(Issue 98)
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Nightly across the Midlands, a dedicated troupe of internationally revered actors, musicians and ballerinas take to our stages. And this Autumn (yes - we went there) there's a plethora of silly good productions set to make you beam, weep and quite possibly question what it is you've been doing with your life thus far. Here's our pick.
What: King Charles III  Where: The Rep
When: Friday, 4 September - Saturday, 19 September
The Queen is dead (not literally, bear with us). After a lifetime of waiting, Prince Charles ascends the throne. But how to rule? Winner of the 2015 Olivier Awards Best New Play and a whole heap of first class reviews from its West End run, this ambitious look at what will become our shared history deals seriously - if not exactly sensitively - with the lives of the people underneath the crowns and the conscience of Britain's best known family. Book here. And long live the Queen and all that.
What: Swan Lake Where: The Hippodrome
When: Monday, 28 Sep - Tuesday, 6 October
If watching Billy Elliot is the closest you've come to taking in a ballet, it might just be time to get out of your comfort zone. Birmingham Royal Ballet are quite simply, stupendously good at their trade and true to form, their production of Swan Lake is enirely stand out. Set around a moody, moonlit lake, this romantic fable of ill-fated passion is powerfully illuminated by Tchaikovsky’s legendary score and has bewitched audiences for generations. So, for a guaranteed bewitching, book here.
What: The Graduate Where: The Crescent Theatre
When: Saturday, 5 September - Saturday, 12 September
The film adaptation of The Graduate (pictured) put Dustin Hofmann securely on the movie-making map. Then, in April 2000, a stage version opened to some pretty vocal praise. And if you somehow missed both: it’s the 1960s and Benjamin has graduated with every opportunity in front of him. But the zip on Mrs. Robinson’s dress is about to intervene. This chortle-worthy adaption charts misadventures and some best-forgotten lowlights from the painful process of growing up. Book.
What: Gewandhausorchester Leipzig perform Strauss Where: Symphony Hall
When: Monday, 19 October (7.30pm)
Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, sometimes simply referred to as Gewandhausorchester, is coming to the Symphony Hall. And we'll forgive it the big name not only because it's rather larger than your average orchestra. In fact, with over 100 players, you could correctly describe it as a super-orchestra and based out of Germany's cultural capital (Bach, Mendelssohn, and Wagner all lived in Leipzig), it's really rather good. Check out the full programme here.
What: Hecuba Where: The Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
When: Thursday, September 17 - Saturday, 17 October
Aged 15, we played Hecuba in a school play. And though we weren't exactly spellbinding, we know a theatre company who has a pretty good rep and is giving a new version of the production a whirl. Troy has fallen. Agamemnon has slaughtered his own daughter to win the war. But now another sacrifice is demanded. And if the last two productions we saw care of the Royal Shakespeare Company are anything to go by, its new adaptation of Hecuba is going to be entirely superb. More here.


British director Andrew Haigh’s follow-up to 2011’s Weekend is one of the least compromising looks at a long marriage ever put to film – if you see this with your significant other, make sure everything’s on an even keel. Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay play a couple settled into a comfortable retirement, childless but outwardly happy, as they prepare for their 45th anniversary. However, a revelation of the husband’s life before they got hitched opens up enough of a fissure to make the pair reevaluate everything. It’s very British – upper lips have seldom been stiffer – but there is a quiet devastation to the closing scenes, and the leads are outstanding.


The UK's largest inner city lifestyle festival will be on your doorstep (well, at Boxxed in Digbeth) this very Saturday. The main attraction is thousands of the latest and most hard to snaffle sneakers (or "kicks", as we're quickly learning to call them). There'll also be plenty of apparel, DJs, live graffiti, street food and a bar. This is how things shaped up last year. Entry is £3 from 12.30pm. More here.


In a ludicrously attractive nod to Brum's couldn't-care-less-what-the-rest-of-the-nation-thinks taste in architecture, Birmingham born graphic designer, Rich Cartwright, has created an illustration which brings together the new, the very old and everything in between. Available in four sizes, starting from £15 for an A4 copy, email Rich (rich.cartwright@hotmail.co.uk) to get your walls attractively adorned as a matter of urgency. And there are points available for anyone who can name every building featured. Lots of them.
Venue: Jamie's Italian, Bullring Shopping Centre, B5 4BE; website
Choice: Italian nachos (£3.95) Chooser: Waiter

It's hard to put into words quite how excited our waiter was about Jamie's Italian nachos, but being as we are writers and we are paid to do just that, we should probably try. Take the most excited you have ever seen Jamie Oliver and throw, say, four Pomeranian puppies into the mix. That's how excited he was. The fear, of course, when someone waxes lyrical about a dish to such a degree is that it simply can't live up to the billing, but this antipasti was rousingly splendid. Crispy fried mini ravioli is stuffed with mozzarella, ricotta and parmesan, and served with Sicilian tomato sauce. The marriage is a taste union that speaks deep into your bones, with textures from crunchy to crispy, melty to undulating, peaking and lilting as the flavours come and go. Jamie's is not without its faults but on balance, we've never had a bad meal there and this smart take on nachos is a sparkler.


Pay what you feel for drinks by the glass, then graze on snacks and charcuterie, or, go all out and plump for the most experiential supper menu we've heard about in Brum. In a joy making hook up which includes Nomad's Alex Claridge and Kitchen School's Chris Hughes, The Man & The Myth is offering anything from cauliflower served with wood ants to black pudding, contrasted with whatever looked best at Claridge's allotment that morning. Then get acquainted with a summer squash and buckthorn cheesecake. And prizes for anyone who knows what buckthorn is without the use of a website rhyming with tickipedia. In the central yet laid back surrounds of Urban Coffee's Church Street HQ, Wednesdays to Saturdays from 6pm, this limited run is the prelude to something big. But you didn't hear that from us, right? Book here for supper (available until 9pm) or just turn up for the snack menu and a glass of something life-affirming.
  • Peel & Stone is taking over Brewdog from 5pm today (September 3). They're bringing the burger that won Bristol's Grillstock and a hot, Thai, pork creation as well as apple pie. Huzzah! 
  • In:Site Festival showcases the art of recent graduates through interactive, live creations and will be outside Birmingham Cathedral from September 11 - 17. More here
  • Cafe Opus is hosting lunch in celebration of Vanley Burke's epic Ikon exhibition (til Sept 27). Vanley's jerk chicken is on the menu, as well as gingercake to finish. Sunday September 20, £15pp. Call to book
  • Get your swing on this weekend in Moseley with lindy hop and jazz workshops care of the Swing Era. There's a Saturday night and Sunday afternoon social if you're already expert. Tickets
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"It was only in the theatre that I lived." - Oscar Wilde
WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew LowryTom Cullen
IMAGES: Jens Gerber (Gewandhausorchester); Paul Stuart (Hecuba);  

I CHOOSE Birmingham, Unit 317, Zellig, Gibb Street, Birmingham, B9 4AA

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