The Urban Guide to the Countryside
Gloucestershire Edition

The Muddy Guide: Thu 16 to Wed 22 March

16 Mar 2017

We’re halfway through Race Week – and here are the runners and the riders for a good time for the week ahead, from a St Patrick’s Day at the races (and night at the bar) to middle-aged laughs and Shakesperian tragedy.

St Patrick’s Thursday, Cheltenham Races, Thu 16 March

St Patrick’s Day comes a day early at Cheltenham this year to make way for Race Week’s Gold Cup finale on Friday. Expect the usual vats of Guinness, Irish music, leprechaun hats and emerald outfits, as well as the two big races of the day, The Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle and The Ryanair Steeple Chase. The town’s bars are always rammed during Race Week, and you can expect a next level of merriment. Cheltenham Muddy faves include the new Cosy Club in The Brewery Quarter, The Bottle of Sauce in St James (which this week has a pop-up Guinness bar), Crazy Eights at No 131 The Promenade or The Retreat in The Suffolks. Or bar crawl all four for a tipsy tour of the town!

Pizza Night, Far Peak Climbing Centre, Northleach, Thu 16 March

As well as its very cool yurt, the Northleach climbing centre now has a wood-fired pizza oven to add to its repertoire and is looking for volunteers to eat the first batch of pizzas to be fired up in it. Hmmm, you don’t need to ask twice! There’ll be an honesty box for the pizzas and cold beers in the fridge to wash them down with.

Jenny Eclair, Gloucester Guildhall, Fri 17 March

Join professional grumpy old woman Jenny Eclair for a night of laughs as the comedian puts middle age under the microscope in her How To Be A Middle Aged Woman (Without Going Insane) tour. “It’s about the fury of middle age and what you can do about it,” she says. “There’s always an army of middle-aged furious women who like to come together and be in the same room and recognize themselves and laugh at it.” Middle-aged, check. Furious, check. Sounds like my kind of club!

Contemporary Royal Academicians, Chapel Arts, Cheltenham, Sat 18 March

Saturday is the last chance to see Chapel Arts’ Royal Academicians show, with works by Chris Orr, Michael Craig-Martin, Antony Gormley and Christopher Le Brun, among others (see my review here). Enjoy the light and airy space, a former Baptist’s chapel, with all the art expertly and imaginatively hung by gallery owner Ian James. There’s a great café too, which serves hard-to-resist cakes, pastries and pretzels.

Rachmaninov: All-night Vigil, Gloucester Cathedral, Sat 18 March

The marriage of the great Russian composer’s finest composition and the stunning setting and acoustics of Gloucester Cathedral is inspired. The piece, which Rachmaninov composed in less than two weeks in the freezing days of January and February 1915, will be sung in Russian by the Gloucester Choral Society without accompaniment. A highly religious work, it consists of settings of text taken from the Russian Orthodox all-night vigil ceremony. It was one of the composer’s favourite works (although he’d lost his faith by the time he wrote it) and he requested that its fifth movement be sung at his funeral.

Othello, Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol, until Sat 1 April

There’s still time to catch this outstanding production of Shakespeare’s great tragedy of jealousy and prejudice directed by English Touring Theatre’s Richard Twyman at Bristol’s favourite theatre, the Tobacco Factory. Norah Lopez Holden and Abraham Popoola, two young actors straight out of Rada, give are riveting as Desdemona and Othello. And if you want to grab a bite before the show (and get £1 off your ticket), the theatre’s café serves up a Mediterranean-inspired menu.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside -
Gloucestershire Edition