Hunker down, get out of the cold and discover the best of winter in Reading with our guide to the top events to check out in town this November. Look out for Matilda the Empress, The Whiskey Affair tasting festival, Reading Comic-Con, the Henley Symphony Orchestra and the opening of the Apres Ski Bar.
Matilda the Empress
Thursday 2 – Saturday 18 November | 7.30pm, 2.30pm matinee | St James’ Church, Abbot’s Walk | £20, £16 (concessions) | Book online
Excellent local theatre company Reading Between the Lines return with their sequel to the award-winning production Henry 1. RBL’s work always highlights Reading’s rich history and this time Beth Flintoff’s play follows the story of Matilda, Henry’s daughter and rightful heir to the throne, and the rebellion which stopped her becoming Queen of England. We attended preview night and saw a powerful, atmospheric and fascinating look at one of the most formidable women in England’s history. Look out for our review of Matilda the Empress very soon.
Old Fashioned Week
Until 11 November | Milk Bar, Merchants Place
Reading’s most innovative cocktail bar turns its focus to the most classic of cocktails this month as part of the national Old Fashioned Week. Expect a dedicated menu of at least four twists on the rye and sugar mix, including one likely featuring rum. Sure, it’s not traditional, but the team at Milk know what their doing with a rum bottle – they recently won the national Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai cocktail competition.
Saturday 11 – Wednesday 15 November | 10am-3pm | 3 Forbury Place | Free | Read more
Touring photo exhibition group The Photographic Angle bring their latest free show, 200 Faces, to the office block opposite Forbury Gardens. As the name suggests, the show features 200 portrait photos from 191 international photographers, each capturing personalities, worries and joys of subjects of all ages from across the world.
Henley Symphony Orchestra autumn concert
Sunday 12 November | 4pm | The Concert Hall | £10 | Book online
The Henley Symphony Orchestra open its 48th season with a concert welcoming soloists from the BBC Scottish Symphony, symphony leader Laura Samuel on violin and principal viola Scott Dickinson. Ian Brown conducts the orchestra in three Debussy pieces: ‘La Mer’, and two of the three ‘Nocturnes’, inspired by the artist James Whistler. The programme also includes Mozart’s ‘Sinfonia Concertante’ for violin and viola, and Schubert’s charming ‘Rosamunde Overture’.
Buddy Cop 2
Monday 13- Saturday 18 November | 7.30pm | Progress Theatre | £12 | Book online
After last month’s powerful female-led Hamlet, local theatre company Progress return with this quirky police station comedy, adapted from New York’s Debate Society original production. It’s a charming small-town USA comedy, which sees the local cops set up shop in their community centre after a flood destroys the police station. It’s also set to be full of ‘80s nostalgia, perfect for anyone currently on a Stranger Things 2 binge.
Wednesday 15 November | 6.30pm | CIRDIC, St Saviours Church Hall, Berkeley Avenue | £5 | Read more
Reading’s community crowdfunding event returns after an unexpected break in the autumn. Pay £5 for a bowl or two of homemade soup and an evening of entertainment and your door entry goes to one of three local causes pitching for funding on the night. Pitching this month is Reading City of Sanctuary, New Beginnings and Cianna’s Smile. Music comes from a capella choir the Readiophonics. Due to issues with the usual venue at St Laurence Church, this month’s event takes place at the Churches in Reading Drop in Centre on Berkeley Avenue.
Thursday 16 November | 8pm | South Street | £11 | Book online
This is almost certainly the only theatre and dance performance exploring Communism, anarchy and anti-austerity Europe you’ll see this year. Told by a flamenco dancer, a punk guitarist and a stripper, Republica is inspired by politics in 1930s Spain, the run up to the Civil War and the ‘last time a government took from the super-rich to give back to the people’. It comes from the creators of the Guardian Critic’s Choice awarded Don Quijote and should be an intriguing performance.
In Syria (Insyriated)
Thursday 16 November | 8pm | Reading Film Theatre | Book tickets
Reading’s only independent cinema screens this claustrophobic Syrian war thriller set inside one small Damascus apartment. The gripping drama shows the daily struggles of war through one family trying to keep life normal while trapped in their home, with food and water running out. In Arabic with subtitles.
Saperavi Dinner Party
Friday 17 November | 7.30pm | Island Bar & Restaurant | £35 | Email email@example.com to book
Georgian Feast, our favourite street food vendors, take over the kitchen at the once unloved Island Bar & Restaurant for another series of dinner parties inspired by Saperavi. That’s a Georgian wine grape, so you know it’s going to be a good time. There’s 22 seats at a big group table, with five delicious courses of intricate Georgian home cooking, served sharing style. We loved the spicy lamb meatballs and the sticky garlic chicken. The dinner price includes a glass of a rich, sumptuous Georgian red wine, so you can embrace the Saperavi atmosphere.
Stand Up Cinema: Plan 9 From Outer Space
Friday 17 November | 7.30pm | Rising Sun Arts Centre | Free | Read more
Every month, The Rising Sun Arts Centre present screenings of Reading home-grown cinema as well obscure documentaries and cult independent films. This month, they’re showing Ed Wood’s 1959 black and white sci-fi thriller Plan 9 From Outer Space, which The Golden Turkey Awards called ‘the worst movie ever made’. In it, aliens come to earth and turn our dead into a zombie army, ready to take on the world’s governments. Today, this is probably the ultimate ‘so bad it’s good’ flick with hilariously bad special effects but bags of enthusiasm and a plot that is nothing if not entertaining.
The Apres Bar at Station Hill
From Friday 17 November | from 5pm, from 12pm at weekends | Station Hill | Read more
The popular alpine lodge bar from WePop returns to the bottom of the station steps for the second year. Inside the festive covered marquee there’ll be outdoor heaters, blankets and a bar serving mulled wine, beer from London’s Meantime brewery, giant shareable ski boots full of punch and a series of winter cocktails, only one of which, the hot toddy (whiskey and mulled cider) is actually hot. There’ll also be regular live music and mini chalets (fancy garden sheds) or a large private ski lodge to hire for groups (from £20/1 hour 50 minutes).
The Whiskey Affair
Saturday 18 November | 1pm-5pm, 7pm-11pm | Great Hall, University of Reading, London Road | £8 | Read more
Get your fill of fire water at this whiskey tasting festival, which returns to Reading for the second year. Just like a beer festival, your entry ticket gets you a glass and then you can buy tokens to sample your choice of Scotch, Bourbon, Irish and Japanese whisky as well as blended cocktails from a whole range of international brands. There will also be live music, talks from whiskey experts and food stalls.
Comedy at Milk
Tuesday 21 November | 7.30pm | Milk Bar | £5 | Book online
Former The Sunday Show host Paul Tonkinson heads a great lineup of comedians at Milk’s monthly comedy night. As well as the Live at The Apollo star, you’ll get sets from The Comedy Store’s Marlon Davis, New Zealand comic Robert Lindesay and Brett Goldstein, who has appeared in Derek. And all for a fiver.
Rich Hall’s Hoedown
Friday 24 November | 8pm | The Concert Hall | £19 | Book online
You’ve probably seen Rich Hall’s brand of dry American humour on shows such as QI and Have I Got News For You. Here, he brings his second UK tour to Reading, developing on the themes of his BBC4 documentary, Presidential Grudge Match, to dissect Trump’s America and the special relationship between us and the United States. Expect not just stand up, but also music, ballads and a foot-stomping good time.
Saturday 25 November | 9pm | Global Cafe | £5 | Read more
Engaging Scottish folk singer Hamish Hawk came up through BBC Introducing Scotland before being picked for an acoustic sessions on 6Music. This month he brings his lilting sound to Global Cafe for an intimate stripped back show in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. Global Cafe regular Becky Liddel and local alt-rock band Fat Mac bring acoustic sets as support. All proceeds from the door go to Macmillan Cancer Support.
Saturday 24-Sunday 25 November | 10am-5pm | Rivermead Leisure Centre | From £11.25 | Book online
The local convention for all things comic, superhero and fantasy returns to Rivermead for the second year. While this Con obviously isn’t as large as London’s or the San Diego original, there will be a cos-play competition, a gaming zone and the chance to have your picture taken with actors from sci-fi and fantasy film and TV. Look out for Primeval’s Hannah Spearritt (also of S-Club fame), Hattie Hydrige, who was Holly in Red Dwarf and Josh Herdman – that’s Goyle in the Harry Potter films. There’ll also be appearances from Wonder Woman body double Cez Williams, comic sketch artist Simon Wyatt and Bumblebee from Transformers (yes, the bot).
The Critic as Artist
All month | Reading Museum | Free | Read more
This Oscar Wilde inspired art exhibition from exciting local art organisation Reading:International continues this month at Reading Museum. Expect works from artists including bold fashion photographer Miles Aldridge, British painter Stephen Buckley and late Sex Pistols founder Malcolm McLaren. Until Saturday 27 January 2018.