What the Butler Saw, Theatre Royal, Bath, Mon 27 March – Sat 1 April
Joe Orton completed his famous, subversive, farce only weeks before he was murdered by his lover Kenneth Halliwell in 1967 at the age of 34 and he actually never saw the play performed. Considered totally shocking when it was first staged in 1969, it tells the tale of Dr Prentice (Rufus Hound), a sex-obsessed psychiatrist in a private clinic, who’s attempting to interview and seduce a prospective secretary when his nymphomaniac wife, an over eager hospital inspector and a dim-witted policeman turn up.
Everywhere gets so darn booked up for Mothering Sunday – as you’ll know, if you’ve ever spent the day before desperately trying to nab a restaurant reservation only to find it’s Burger King or bust. So in the interests of being super-organized, we’ve decided to get in there early this year with our guide to what to do with your mother – or your children – on Sunday 26 March (I can think of a few suggestions that aren’t quite in keeping with the spirit of the day, but let’s leave that there).
Go to the theatre, watch a film (or some birds), listen to music, browse a market – or audition for the X-Factor – this week in Somerset.
Hedda Gabler, National Theatre Live, various venues, Thurs 9 March
Hedda and Tesman have just returned from their honeymoon and the relationship is already in trouble. Trapped but determined, Hedda tries to control those around her, only to see her own world unravel.
Grayson Perry – Typical Man in a Dress, Colston Hall, Bristol, Weds 2 Nov
Only five dates on this quiet, unassuming man’s one-off UK live theatre tour – and one of them’s just up the road. An intelligent evening of laughs, discussion, insight and costume changes are promised from the artist, writer, presenter and Turner Prize winner who asks, whilst wearing a frock, ‘what is masculinity and what can it become?’ And guess what?
Stornoway, Komedia, Bath, Thurs 6 Oct
The alternative indie-folk band who loved Zorbing are at the Komedia with their new album Bonxie. Clever clogs PhD in ornithology Dr Brian Briggs used his love for the natural world to good effect, apparently he recorded the calls of 20 different species of birds to appear in this album of folk and electronica.
Quartz Festival, Queens College, Taunton, Weds 5-Sat 15 Oct
Art, music, theatre, puppetry, comedy, literature at Queen’s College but this is no student showcase – Michael Morpurgo, the Treorchy Male Choir, James Pearson, Milton Jones and The Chicago Blues Brothers are all on the bill.
An Elephant in the Garden, The Brewhouse, Taunton, Weds 5 October
Just seen that are putting on a production of An Elephant in the Garden – a friend saw it at the Bristol Old Vic earlier in the year and said it was brilliant. Based on Michael Morpurgo’s book of the same name, it’s the story of Elizabeth, a teenage girl growing up in wartime Dresden who flees the advancing Russians with her mum – and an elephant (as you do).
Rory Kinnear (Hamlet, Othello, James Bond) is Mack the Knife in this new production of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s landmark musical, screened live from the stage of the National Theatre. Enjoy the wonderful music, filthy language and immoral behaviour at a cinema near you.
Somerset Open Studios, venues across Somerset, Sat 17 Sept- Sun 1 Oct
I love this event which celebrates contemporary visual art throughout Somerset by letting the public into over 200 artists’ and makers’ studios – nosing around other people’s gaffs is on my CV under ‘Hobbies’. First I spend ages browsing the guide (you can download a digital copy here), then I chose a handful of studios in roughly the same area, jump into the car and I’m off.
Seen that National Trust list of 50 things to do before you’re 11 and ¾ ? Well you can tick most of them off during a single afternoon at Shearwater Lake, a large freshwater lake close to the village of Crockerton set amongst the woodlands on the Longleat Estate. Squeeze out the few last drops of summer sun and have a rollicking, good old-fashioned, out-doorsy, free day out on me.
The lake’s just over the border in Wiltshire (no passport required) but with those tall conifers, you could easily be fooled into thinking you’re in Scandinavia.
Crime novelist Clare Donoghue was brought up in Somerset and spent the obligatory ten years in London before moving back to the West Country to do an MA in creative writing at Bath Spa. By the end of the year she had her first novel – Never Look Back – and her main characters DI Mike Lockyer and DS Jane Bennett, ready for submission. Since signing with Pan Macmillan, she hasn’t looked back…forgive the pun.