Issue 266
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There's something in Birmingham's water and not only is it making it taste better than any other council pop on Earth, it's also sending the entire city off its collective box. Below you'll find seven events: all bookable now, all madder than wet hens. 
What happens when artists build, host, and run their own bars, for one nutso night? At the last Artists Behind Bars (see what they've done there?), Brian Catling put himself behind literal bars – turning himself into a prisoner serving spirits, and Rebecca Davies read palms and served cocktails to soften the blow. March 1, £5
Decide the fate of Frank Lane, who's in police custody awaiting trial, charged with the murder of his wife. Criminal barristers will lay out evidence to the courtroom, before you retire to decide your verdict. The totally new Murder Trial Live is in Birmingham (or more accurately Shirley) on May 4. Tickets
Explore female pleasure through food, in a gallery that's also a flat. A women-only collab between artist Kaye Winwood, a theatre producer and a senior research fellow, Hands on Sensuality includes a sensory tasting menu, a good measure of naughty and discussion of gendered double standards around pleasure. More
Across a couple of undisclosed city centre locations, become part of A Moment of Madness, a fully immersive spy thriller. What we can say is that you'll be a secret agent, and that following a briefing, you'll need to conduct surveillance to expose the baddies. You'll also be involved in a stakeout in an actual Brum car park. More
Cheer and jeer at a bunch of fully-formed adults playing dress up around the wrestling ring. Having attended a previous edition of K-Star Wrestling, it's brilliant and bizarre in equal measure. The next meet-up is on Feb 23, and we're calling it Beef in Kings Heath (£6). Or become a pro yourself on Feb 3.
The rules are, there are No Rules, at chef Alex Claridge's pay-what-you-feel food-off, at Nocturnal Animals. And if this doesn't immediately sound batsh*t, in previous versions Alex has lost almost £4,000 on Champagne, squirted food at people and used a busker at pigeon park for the location reveal. January 29. More
You know all those one-woman shows that fuse random YouTube clips with movement, live cinema, belly laughs and a laptop? Us neither. But watch a preview of Barbara Matijević's dizzying, ingenious looking Forecasting, then immediately book yourself a slot for May 1 (£12). 


We do maths, and two cocktails plus an antipasti board at Harvey Nichols beaut of a bar usually costs up to £34. But for Aperitivo Hour (reassuringly, much longer than an hour), it's £15 for the lot. And we're not talking a few peanuts on snackage, your antipasti sharer includes Oxspring ham, Great Glen salami, marinated artichokes, mixed olives and sourdough croutes. On cocktails, the entire list is included in the deal, and yes ours will be a Penicillin (usually £12). And if you're in a drinks only place, it's £10 for two cocktails. From 4pm til 8pm, Sunday through Friday, except on Monday when there's a 7pm ciao. More


Manhole covers and hydrants. Not really dinner party, chat, are they? And yet, though you'll hardly notice them, they're kind of critical when it comes to living in a country that actually functions. Printmaker Sharon Baker noticed them, and — intrigued by the moment in history their nuances represent — has put on an exhibition of limited edition prints of the things. From one made in the Black Country and findable in her Stirchley garden, to one rumoured to be hanging in a certain leader of the opposition's office (and now buyable as a greeting card for £2.50), find them at Moseley's Maison Mayci until April 11.


It's a tale as old as time. But how old is time? Now we've answered none of life's existential questions, can we talk about the darkly gothic production of Beauty and the Beast, opening on Feb 19? As this is a Birmingham Royal Ballet affair, you already know the dancing is going to be enchanting and powerful and gravity-defying in all the right places — and you don't need us to remind you of the story — but the masks in this particular production additionally warrant their own fanbase. Expect a stageful of animals rather than the teacups and household objects of the Disney movie, including the hauntingly human Beast’s mask, designed by Robert Allsopp, who worked on X-Men and Doctor Who. And don't feel sad about the lack of singing candelabra, there's a completely incredible magical chair to keep 'em peeled for. Until March 2 at the Hippodrome. Tickets (from £21) 


Vice is about what happens when someone who’s both evil and competent is in the White House: namely, one Dick Cheney. He may never end up at the Hague, but he’s eviscerated in this savage comedy that, unusually for a big budget US film, really takes the gloves off. Anchored by a transformative performance from Christian Bale – it’s legit uncanny – the blows this film lands are all the more brutal as they come laced with laughs. Sam Rockwell, meanwhile, ably avoids caricature as George W Bush, and Amy Adams is amazing as a more and more demonic Lynne Cheney. Times
Venue: Mr Slim Korean BBQ and Slim Sush, 562 Moseley Road, Balsall Heath, B12 9AD; InstaChoice: BBQ Selection (£35) Chooser: Waitress
You've probably picked up by this point that as well as hitting the big openings, we search out Brum's top nooks and top crannies to keep you in dining options. It's with a heart heavier than a Volvo XC60 that we admit to getting "a really good feeling" about a place to which we probably won't be returning. First, the good: a warm welcome and a traditional Korean citrus drink made from pomelo, a south-east Asian fruit that looks like an enormous grapefruit. Secondly, everything else: we went for the mixed platter (£15), followed by the house BBQ selection. The gun mandu (fried dumplings) were probably the highlight of the disappointing plate of beige which we politely nibbled on in anticipation of the main event. Smug levels, about what was bound to be our new favourite place, rose as a grill (built into our table!) was turned on and little baskets of sides started to arrive. The idea behind Korean BBQ is that you're served a plate of raw meat and fish, which you cook over a grill and wrap in lettuce and/or eat with spring onions, sauces and rice. So you could say that it's our own cooking skills that left us wanting, but whether we grilled hot and rapidly or slow and low, the chicken felt slimey, the beef chewy, and the squid rubbery. And the sides? All cost extra — the lettuce and spring onions were a cheeky feeling £4.50 when you've already sunk £35 on some questionable cuts of meat. Sorry, Mr Slim, you are not the answer to Brum's Korean question.
Last chance sales, departing from BHX*:
Get to Florida over Easter from £317 return with TUI, departing on Good Friday, or how about Cancun? From £329 return, next week.

Get to Hong Kong from £389, return with Turkish Airlines in March.
Get to Salzburg from £54 or Venice from £65, this spring, return with
Get to Gran Canaria, close to the west coast of North Africa, with Thomas Cook Airlines, from £34.99 one-way in March and April.
Get to Malaga from £38, Madrid from £40, Verona from £42 or Porto from £46, this spring, return with Ryanair. Oh, do behave.

*Correct as at 1pm on 23/01/2019

"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."

Robin Williams

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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew Lowry
PICTURES: Artists Behind Bars (Fierce Festival — Katja Ogrin), K Star Wrestling (Facebook), Beauty & The Beast (Delia Mathews as Belle and Brandon Lawrence as The Beast, by Bella Kotak.)

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