Things To Book, Watch & Listen To This Month
Things To Book, Watch & Listen To This Month

Things To Book, Watch & Listen To This Month

There are some exciting things to add to your calendar this month, as well as podcasts and films to have on your radar. We’ve rounded up ten of the best – including a must-see play, an opera and a new exhibition…

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Joanna & The Maestro

New podcast Joanna & The Maestro is hosted by Dame Joanna Lumley and her musical conductor husband, Stephen “Stevie” Barlow. After nearly 40 years of marriage, they realise there are still lots of new things to learn about each other. Recorded in the music room in their London garden, listeners can tune into affectionate and funny stories between the pair, as well as live music performed by Stephen. The couple also delve into the remarkable stories behind some of the greatest composers and symphonies, intertwined with personal anecdotes about their own musical journeys.



Curated At Dorfold: British Art Then And Now

Curated at Dorfold: British Art Then and Now is a celebration of British art. Taking place at stately home Dorfold Hall in Cheshire, visitors can see works by British artists past and present, alongside an extensive collection of art and antiques from Dorfold’s owners. It includes paintings, prints, ceramics and sculptures by Paul Benney, John Craxton, Grayson Perry, Sir Matthew Smith, Keith Vaughan, Patrick Heron, Nigel Hall, Tom Hammick, Alan Rankle, Sophie Ryder, Rebekah Tuluie and Valeria Nascimento. One of the highlights is in the Coach House, which houses immersive sound and video work by British artist Paul Benney. 

Dorfold Hall, Nantwich, Cheshire, CW5 8LD; until Saturday 11th February





Carmen at the London Coliseum

Calixto Bieito’s acclaimed and fiery Carmen returns to the London Coliseum this month for its third revival since it was first staged over a decade ago. One of the most popular operas ever written, it features Bizet’s recognisable score with dramatic songs including ‘Habanera’ and ‘Toreador Song’ – all of which will be performed by the English National Opera. As the famous story goes, Carmen is a woman ablaze with passion and surrounded by men possessed by obsession and jealousy. One of opera’s most well-known characters sets herself on a road to tragedy when she meets Don José, a corporal in the army who is searching for love. Tickets start from £10.

St Martin's Lane, West End, WC2N 4ES



Victory City by Salman Rushdie

Victory City is Salman Rushdie’s first novel since he was attacked in New York last summer. The book begins in the wake of an insignificant battle between two long-forgotten kingdoms in 14th-century southern India. A nine-year-old girl has a divine encounter that will change the course of history. After witnessing the death of her mother, she becomes a vessel for a goddess, who tells her that she will be instrumental in the rise of a great city called Bisnaga, the wonder of the world. Over the next 250 years, the girl attempts to make good on the task that the goddess sets for her: to give women equal agency in a patriarchal world.



London Bookshop Crawl

According to recent research, independent book shops in the UK are thriving, as people look to support local businesses during the cost-of-living crisis. If you want to do your bit, the London Bookshop Crawl takes place from Thursday 16th to Sunday 19th February with a programme of online and in-store events. Download a free map from the website to follow a curated trail in your area, including stops at some of the best bookshops in the capital. On Friday 17th February, there’s also the Big Bookish Quiz at the new Battersea Bookshop to raise funds for literacy charity Give a Book. 




Women Talking

Based on Miriam Toews’s 2018 novel of the same name, Women Talking is a fictional story based on real-life events in a remote Mennonite colony in Bolivia. Over 100 girls and women were knocked unconscious and violated – by what many thought were ghosts or demons – as punishment for their sins. Their accounts were dismissed as 'wild female imagination’, but when the women learned that they were in fact drugged and attacked by men in their community, they hold a secret meeting in a hayloft. They have two days to make a plan before the rapists are bailed out and brought home: will they dare to escape? The star-studded cast includes Claire Foy, Rooney Mara, Frances McDormand and Ben Wishaw. 

In cinemas from 10th February. 




Kew Garden Orchid Festival

Kew Gardens has just opened its annual orchid festival at its Prince of Wales Conservatory. This year, the festival celebrates biodiversity hotspot Cameroon. The country is home to some of the world’s most delicate and threatened orchids – some so rare their locations must be kept secret for their protection. From lush rainforests and volcanic mountains to arid desert plains, Cameroon’s huge variety of plants and wildlife are supported by varied habitats, reflected across the ten unique climatic zones in the conservatory. Guests will also see large-scale sculptures by Kew’s team of expert horticulturists, hand-crafted from an array of real, colourful orchids and plants. Tickets cost £16.50.

Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, TW9 3AB



Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel

New York’s legendary Chelsea Hotel is an icon of 1960s counterculture and has been a refuge for some of the world’s biggest stars over the decades. It’s where Madonna shot some of the images from her book Sex, while the likes of Arthur Miller, Bob Dylan and Patti Smith became regulars. Over the past eight years, the hotel has been under construction, but 51 people still live in the building. In this documentary, its residents are caught between fear and frenzy, as some prepare for imminent upheaval while others protest against the hotel’s administration. Against this backdrop of constant change, the film explores the origins that contributed to the Chelsea’s mythical stature, as well as its current challenges and uncertain future.



Manchester Museum

After a £15 million transformation, Manchester Museum, part of the University of Manchester, will reopen its doors on Saturday 18th February. Visitors can see the modern two-storey extension with new exhibition spaces, which includes a South Asia Gallery, a British Museum partnership and the UK’s first permanent space to explore the lived experience of South Asian diaspora communities. There will also be a new Chinese culture gallery and a dinosaur display, as well as its first major exhibition – Golden Mummies of Egypt. A great spot to keep grandchildren entertained during half-term. 

University of Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL




Phaedra at the National Theatre

Writer and director Simon Stone has adapted Seneca’s famous tragedy into a modern play about love, lust and revenge. After years of fierce focus on her political career, Phaedra (Janet McTeer) turns her attention to her personal life. The reappearance of her stepson shakes the foundations of her house and the beliefs that have underpinned her power. As buried lust and loneliness surge to the surface, Phaedra’s actions threaten to destroy everything she has built. Also stars Assaad Bouab (Call My Agent).

Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PX


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