What’s on: Oct 2021
Autumn's here and the Muddy calendar is bursting at the seams with spooky happenings, clever new musicals, creative dance, plus art, food, film and more... fill your boots!
MUSICAL: Clean, Watford Palace Theatre, 2 Oct
Ok, so laundry might not be the most glam subject for a musical, BUT this one, about the lives of the women on Brighton’s Laundry Hill, has received critical acclaim, winning the Outstanding Theatre Award at Brighton Fringe this year. It sounds raw, emotional and uplifting all at once and, laundry aside, takes a deeper dive into themes of hardship, suffrage, sexuality and sisterhood across 150 years, with some close-to-the-bone parallels to today, including the smallpox outbreak of 1950.
ONLINE THEATRE: Going the Distance, Watford Palace Theatre, 4-17 Oct
Inspired by the events of the last 18 months with theatres going dark nationwide, this uplifting comedy starring Shobna Gulati and Matthew Kelly, follows a local theatre company with a big mission. The Matchborough Community Theatre aren’t going to let a pandemic get the better of them as they fight to save their local venue by putting on a fundraising production inspired by The Wizard of Oz. This is a remote viewing event, so can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own sofa!
ART: Knot Together, Courtyard Arts Gallery, 5-30 Oct
This mixed media exhibition is a culmination of work by two sets of friends, artists Fabiola Alcaraz, Ivan Daggett, Anthony Stapleton and Sue Wagstaff. It explores the way that their work – which features a mixture of drawing, painting, collage and textile printing, stained glass, clay installation and wood sculpture – all interweaves and overlaps with each other.
FILM: Banff Mountain Film Festival, Alban Arena, 8 Oct
I’ve been meaning to go to this for years – it’s back for 2021 so maybe I’ll get there this time! The World Tour of the Banff Mountain Film Festival is the ultimate celebration of adventure film-making and extreme cinematography. There’ll be screenings of two collections of incredible films – featuring a near-impossible descent from K2, a wild running expedition in Tajikistan and an adventurous expedition to Baffin Island – chosen from hundreds of entries into the annual Canadian festival. Put your big girl pants on and watch in awe!
FOOD AND MUSIC: Spanish street food with music from Classico Latino, Saffron Hall, 9 Oct
You might not be jetting off any time soon, but you can get into the Latino spirit at this feast of street food by local food van Azahar with musical accompaniment from award-winning Latin American group, Classico Latino. On the menu will be sharing charcuterie platters and paella, with speciality Spanish wines available, while the music will draw on Samba, Bolero and Tango as well as lesser-known rhythms, conjuring up the stories and emotions of Latin America.
COMEDY: Jenny Elcair: Sixty! (FFS!), The Radlett Centre, 9 Oct
In her typically candid (and hilarious) way, Jenny confronts her 60s (or ‘a new decade of decrepitude’ as she calls it!) for her latest tour. She’ll tackle an eclectic mix of topics, from the endless scrolling to find your date of birth on those pesky online forms to lockdown weight and Nordic walking poles.
FAMILY: Apple Day, Forty Hall Farm, 10 Oct
This organic farm on the Herts/London border is home to rare breed animals, London’s only vineyard, a community orchard, a market garden and a Farm Shop. This year’s Apple Day celebrates the orchard’s 10th anniversary – there’ll be apples and juices for sale, juicing demos and orchard tours.
FITNESS: Run with Willow, Hatfield House, 10 Oct
Get your trainers on and dust off that running gear for this annual charity event in aid of Willow, which supports seriously ill young adults. There are 5k and 10k options as well as a junior 1k run, with courses taking in the gorgeous grounds of Hatfield House. This year there’s more of a festival feel with food stalls, music and a Tiny Tots Scamper. Plus entrants will have access to the Stable Yard Shops and Coach House Kitchen. Minimum sponsorship £50.
WORKSHOP: Beginners’ photography course, Ashridge Estate, 11 and 16 Oct
Want to get your head around your camera functions or just learn to take some decent outdoor snaps? Sign up to this workshop led by Lyndsey Abercromby, where you can explore the gorgeous Ashridge Estate as the leaves turn for autumn (plenty of photo ops to be had!), while learning about composition, exposure, focussing and depth of field. £99 per person.
COMEDY: Stephen K Amos: Before and Laughter, The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 15-16 Oct
Switch off from the seriousness of life for a bit with some laughter therapy. Funnyman Stephen K Amos takes a wry look over the last decade and his own personal highs and lows. Things are still going downhill but hey – there’s always humour… and gin!
MUSIC: Herts Jazz Festival, South Mill Arts, Bishop’s Stortford, 15-17 Oct
Re-scheduled from last year’s cancelled date the 10th Herts Jazz Festival is a celebration of the best of British Jazz. Headliners include pianist Darius Brubeck (son of jazz icon Dave Brubeck) with his quartet on the Friday, singer and pianist Liane Carroll on the Saturday and the Simon Spillett Big Band playing the music of the legendary Tubby Hayes on Sunday evening.
TALK: Amanda Owen: The Yorkshire Shepherdess, Saffron Hall, 17 Oct
You may remember her from the Channel 5 series Our Yorkshire Farm which made her an overnight sensation. If not, let me tell you, this lady has crazy skills – shepherdess, author and mother of nine (yes nine!) children – I for one do not know how she does it! Hear Amanda talk about life on her 200-acre farm and what the next chapter has in store. Should be fascinating!
EXHIBITION: Warden Abbey Revealed, The Higgins Bedford, from 19 Oct – Oct 2022
Opening this month, this new exhibition will reveal the former gradeur of the medieval Cistercian abbey, Warden Abbey. There’ll be artefacts, like the section of tile and lion’s head carving pictured above, and reconstruction illustrations, on display. Anyone with a passion for archaeology or local history will be intrigued.
DANCE: Kattam Katti, Bedford University Theatre, 20 Oct
Here’s your chance to see a preview of this exciting and colourful new dance production based on the famous kite festival which takes place in Gujarat, North India every year. Literally meaning ‘cutting through’ Kattam Katti captures the drama, danger and excitement of this fiercely competitive event through the medium of contemporary, South Asian-inspired dance. It’s being toured by the Pagrav Dance Company (who are based in Milton Keynes) starting at the MK Gallery and Bedford University Theatre, before making its world premiére at London’s Sadler’s Wells.
DANCE: Ballet Black, Watford Palace Theatre, 21 Oct
This double bill of ballet comes from two Olivier Award-winning choreographers, Will Tuckett and Mthuthuzeli November. Then Or Now is a combination of classical dance, poetry and music, exploring the themes of home and belonging, whileThe Waiting Game contemplates the meaning of life.
DRINK: Gin and Jazz Festival, George Street, St Albans, 22-23 Oct
George Street in St Albans will come alive with the sound of Swing jazz music, as visitors flock to this free two-night festival showcasing the amazing food, drink and independent shopping businesses. Chin, chin! Mine’s a gin!
IMMERSIVE THEATRE: The Veil of Despair, Hatfield House, 28-31 Oct
Not for the faint-hearted, this scarily immersive production by events experts Sneaky Experience comes to the grounds of Hatfield House. Guests are transported back to 1930 and invited to take a walk in the woods after dark to find a missing girl. Just don’t get trapped by the veil of light which seems to suck everyone in with its mysterious force! Yikes! Age 18+.
MUSICAL: Vinegar Tom, Maltings Theatre, 28 Oct – 6 Nov
Written during the feminist movement of the 70s about the brutal witch trials of the 17th Century, this gritty play written by Caryl Churchill tackles some bold and still relevant topics. Telling painfully moving stories of the women who fell under suspision of witchcraft, with a dash of dark humour, Churchill’s script has been transformed into lyrics to be performed via the medium of err… folk rock music! Imagine Kate Bush, Blondie and Stevie Nicks taking on folklore and you’re just about there…
COMEDY: MARVELus: All the Marvel movies… kind of, The Place Bedford, 30 Oct
Any Marvel fans in the house? Double act, The Just Us League (see what they did there?) brings their high energy show to Beds, which attempts to cram all the marvel movies into one action-packed and hilarious evening. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be full-on super-hero geek – even if you’ve only seen one or two of the movies, you’ll geddit. It was a sell-out at Edinburgh Fringe, so tickets will sell fast!
FAMILY: Spooky Woodland Walk, Wrest Park, 29-31 Oct
Hear some spine-tingling tales from the Wrest Park’s ghost-hunting storytellers on this family friendly walk through the shadowy grounds after dark. Just don’t jump out of the bushes shouting ‘boo’, ok? Aimed at families with children aged 5-12.
FESTIVAL: Halloweentown Festival, 29-31 Oct
Now this sounds awesome – if you’re not easily spooked, that is! The three-day fully immersive festival welcomes 15,000 revellers and some massive headliners including Craig David and The Levellers on stage. Expect a mind-blowing Day of the Dead-style set, zombie ticket collectors, a three-storey Bar of the Bizarre (watch out for the monstrous creatures lurking), and a professional makeup bar where you can get a macabre makeover. And there are prizes for the best costumes (best up your game then!)
LAST CHANCE TO SEE…
EXHIBITION: Animal Mummies, Natural History Museum, Tring, until 17 October
I, for one, am delighted that this fab free museum has reopened – it’s a great place to pop in with the kids on a rainy day and we spot something new every time we visit. The current exhibition will entice kids and big kids who have a fascination with ancient Egypt, with the opportunity to examine real animal mummies and x-rays showing how they were preserved. There’ll also be a 2,000 year-old cat coffin on display and an interactive scanning machine.
ART: This Living Hand: Edmund de Waal presents Henry Moore, Henry Moore Studios and Gardens, Perry Green, until 31 October
If you’re familiar with Moore’s sculptures you’ll know that they’re innately tactile. This exhibition by acclaimed artist, Edmund de Waal, explores the role of touch in the sculptor’s work. Naturally, visitors are invited to get hands-on with the pieces on display – including Moore’s works in bronze and stone, plus a series of carved benches by de Waal. Moore’s studies of own and others peoples’ hands, as an expression of power and symbolism, will also feature.