Bard to the bone

ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE

What do Ingrid Bergman, Machine Gun Kelly and William Shakespeare all have in common? Quite apart from being the arbiter of many a pub quiz tie breaker (you're welcome), they all died on their birthdays. And on April 23, it will have been 400 years since the Bard of Avon rolled a seven - here's our pick of precisely how the Midlands will be marking his quadricentennial.
KING LEAR AT THE REP
Angry looking, isn't he? From the heart of power to the cold and barren world of the outsider, as King Lear decides to give up his crown and divide his kingdom, family ties disintegrate (i.e. people start dying at a rapid pace). Shakespeare’s brutal portrait of one man’s unwinding sanity pitches Lear against his children, against nature and against the universe itself. Classic Bill LOLZ. From May 19 to 28. Tickets.
ROMEO & JULIET BY THE CBSO
It's difficult to think of a play that has inspired more generation transcending ditties than Romeo & Juliet. Imagining there might be something in this - and with the big deathdays of the year in mind - those felicitous folk at the Town Hall have arranged an evening of the CBSO's take on Tchaikovsky’s overture, Bernstein’s West Side Story and Prokofiev’s bittersweet ballet. April 23 (as in, the day). Tickets.
FIRST FOLIO IN BRUM
One of the best collections of Shakespeare in the world just so happens to be housed in our city's book-keeping receptacle. Consequently they've got it together with the British Library and the result is an exhibition featuring films, books and photographs as well as a rare chance to see the LoB's copy of the First Folio (1623), the original collected edition of the Bard's plays. From April 22 to September 3.
BALLET AND THE BARD
Tick a bevy of 'speare off the list with Birmingham Royal Ballet's Triple Bill. Based on the tensions, drama and jealousy of Othello, The Moor's Pavane (pictured) is the meat in your balletic sandwich, with sonnet-inspired dancing kicking things off and a celebration of everyone from Hamlet, to Bottom and Titania in David Bintley’s The Shakespeare Suite concluding proceedings. June 22 to 25. Book
BILL AND HIS MUCKERS AT THE BARBER FINE INSTITUTE
Behold, the Barber’s first exhibition exploring Elizabethan art, which focuses on Shakepeare's chief patrons at court and his other rivals and associates. Organised in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery, it features major paintings, sculptures and prints from 1590 to 1620, including iconic images of Wills and a rare first Folio. From June 10. Entry be free.
CYMBELINE AT THE RSC
Everything we've ever seen at the RSC has been brilliant - weepingly, wonderfully, get a little bit spat on if you book good enough seats - brilliant. Begin your RSC patronage at the end, with Cymbeline, a play about deceit, pursuit and seduction, which is believed to be one of Shakespeare's final tales. April 29 to October 15, you'll need to book toward the end of the run if you want a good seat.

UNTIL SUNDAY: HAND-CUT BIRMINGHAM


In an angular exploration of major landmarks and skylines, French born artist Frédéric Daty has created four bespoke Brum wall sculptures using layers of hand-cut steel sheets to create the 3D pieces. Polishing his creations with varnish and coloured tar, the individual elements stand away from the wall at varying angles and distances. Although the metal is itself static, the surface and colour of the sculptures change in response to how they are lit, giving the impression that the work itself is moving. And if you likey, you've got until 5pm on Sunday (April 10) to see the pieces, which despite a price tag of up to £5,500 have almost all now sold and will therefore disappear from public view when Daty's exhibition at Castle Fine Art in the Mailbox closes. More of Daty's work
Venue: British Oak, 1364 Pershore Road, Stirchley, B30 2XS; website
Choice: Seared mackerel, celeriac textures (£5) Chooser: Helen (manager)

Two summers ago, we ordered a pizza at the British Oak. It was woefully undercooked and an altogether unpleasant experience - and so - we stuck to the slightly warm ale and stonker of a beer garden from that point on. Enter left: the team behind the Prince of Wales and Dark Horse. Now under new ownership of the best kind, the menu has been transformed - think pink pigeon from Steve at Johnstans butchers, a confit orange cheesecake with honeycomb ice-cream of elating proportions and our pick, the seared mackerel. Charred and the right amount crispy on the outside but ebulliently moist on the inside, the celeriac textures (a fondant and a puree) add both bite and contrast, while the tea-soaked raisins bring a welcome tangy sweetness. Good food that will be made great once the much needed refurb of the dining room is complete (it starts at the end of the month), try it now, but wait for the ambiance to catch up with the food if you're in special occasion territory. We're hearing hella good things about Sunday lunch. Sample menu

I CHOOSE LIVE:
DRINK LIKE A LOCAL


If you were to cast a net to a 50 mile radius of Brum you'd haul back a lot of stuff. Volvos, dachshunds, maybe even a fish or two, but also an absurdly good selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Gin, wine, cider, beer and craft ale, Birmingham is in the middle of drinkypoos nirvana and so, for one day only (June 25), we're launching the Local Drinks Market, a celebration of quaffable goodies made within 50 miles. Expect free tasters, top exhibitors (think Langleys, Fixed Wheel beer etc), masterclasses, innovative chefs, street food and other sip-able loveliness. Early bird tickets (£12.50 - today only) are £15 thereafter. Details

MOVIE: MIDNIGHT SPECIAL


With this and 10 Cloverfield Lane, we’re in a mini-boom of solid sci-fi where the less you know, the better the film. Frustratingly, this makes them tricky to review, but take it from us: this is a decent film, and then some. Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton are on the road with Shannon’s young son, who’s being pursued by both the US government and a Waco-esque cult. Let’s just say things take a turn for the cosmic. The classy cast is excellent and the genre trappings, while intriguing, are secondary to a beautiful exploration of parenthood. Times

BOOK NOW:
HAL CRUTTENDEN


If you've got six minutes spare, and let's face it, only people who are kidding themselves don't, watching Hal Cruttenden at the Apollo is a wise use of that time. He's the comedic equivalent of a beef casserole - warm, hearty, British and a blooming great crowd-pleaser - and we're predicting a rapid sell out of his recently extended tour. Hal went to school with George Osborne and pretty quickly fell out with him, so for Gideon-based guffaws buy tickets. One night only (fortuitously a Saturday), May 14, the Old Rep.
  • Swingamajig is a glorious glitter soaked explosion of gypsy swing, cabaret, art, street food and Red Stripe. Here's what happened last year. Tickets (£25) for the one-dayer, on May 1, a-this-a-way
  • There's already a waiting list for Simpsons' big Greek kitchen takeover of Mediterranean neighbour, El Borracho (on July 9). Ring Emma and beg her for a table. Don't smash her plates
  • In advance of making Harborne's yeast-based scene completely awesome, Peel & Stone's team are putting on a series of pop-ups at their JQ HQ. Hockley Ke - Bab is this Saturday from 4pm until 8pm
  • Big Easy Lofton and an assortment of other basketbally types are at the Barclaycard Arena on April 30 for the Harlem Globetrotters' annual trip to Brum. Tickets are from £17.58
  • Ben Tesh's CV includes a stint at Noma. Catch him for ten courses (£45) to include potato porridge - enriched with espresso and topped with parmesan froth and garlic flowers. Sat April 16. Book
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"I have great reason to be content, for thank God I can read, and perhaps understand Shakespeare to his depths" - John Keats
WORDS: Katy DrohanAndrew Lowry, Tom Cullen
IMAGES: Bill Cooper (Birmingham Royal Ballet), Peter Cook (C) RSC (The Royal Shakespeare Auditorium), National Portrait Gallery (Barber)


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