Keith Allen was cast in his latest show by Lady Antonia Fraser. He explains this odd circumstance when we meet during a break in rehearsals for Pinter’s The Homecoming.
‘I was asked if I wanted to do The Caretaker at the Theatre Royal Bath. And I said, “Yeah, I’d love to.” Then I had a conversation with Antonia Fraser who told me the script was licensed to someone else. She said, “Why not do The Homecoming instead – with you as Max?” And I said, “Yes.
I was going to review hyperpop chanteuse Charli XCX’s album this week, but it was such boring, meretricious, grandstanding 1980s retread electropop vacuity that I thought, nah, even if it is headed to the top of our ravaged charts. So have this instead. Oxxxymiron is Russia’s No. 1 hip-hop artist. Yes, Russian hip hop is indeed an oxxxymiron, much as would be Serbian reggae or Iranian gospel, but never mind.
Cock was written by Mike Bartlett in 2009 while he was in Mexico at a drama conference. The title suggests a cockpit where three characters compete for sexual dominance. W, meaning Woman, is a childminder attracted to a gay man, John, who is thick but handsome and deeply involved with M, or Man. W adores John even though he can’t stand women. ‘They’re like water when you really want beer,’ he says, charmlessly. When they have sex she politely asks him not to treat her genitals ‘like a Travelodge’.
No question, the Royal Opera is on a roll. Just look at the cast list alone for Deborah Warner’s new production of Britten’s Peter Grimes. Allan Clayton sings Grimes, Bryn Terfel is Captain Balstrode, and John Tomlinson is Swallow, with Mark Elder conducting. Even before you get to a supporting cast that includes premium names such as James Gilchrist, Jennifer France and Catherine Wyn-Rogers, you’ve basically got the three pre-eminent British male singers of their respective generations, singing their boots off in the greatest of all British operas under the baton of the conductor who (it’s naive, but let’s dream) really ought to succeed Antonio Pappano when he leaves the Royal Opera in 2024.
BBC2’s one-off drama Then Barbara Met Alan
(Monday) told the true story of how two disabled performers on the cabaret circuit of the 1990s fell in love and campaigned together successfully for disability rights. Most of the cast and a lot of the crew were people with disabilities themselves, and the programme provided a startling reminder of how recently Britain was still a country that made little provision for the disabled – and, even more startlingly, of how controversial the idea of such provision then seemed.
Picture the artist’s studio: if what comes to mind is the romantic image of a male painter at his easel in a grand interior with an admiring audience and a nude model at his elbow, you’re in the wrong century for the Whitechapel Gallery. Its new exhibition, A Century of the Artist’s Studio, runs from 1920 to 2020, and there’s precious little romance about it.
To be honest, the studio was never that romantic; Gustave Courbet’s ‘The Artist’s Studio’ (1855), the main source of the stereotype, was itself a send-up.
The Worst Person in the World is a Norwegian film that has made a big splash. To date, its star (Renate Reinsve) has won Best Actress at Cannes and it has been nominated for two Oscars (Best Original Screenplay and Best International Feature Film). It has also attracted rave reviews. I can now only conclude: I must be the Hardest to Please Person in the World as I can’t fathom what all the fuss is about. It’s not atrocious.
‘I like to have a martini,/ Two at the very most./ After three I’m under the table,/ After four I’m under my host.’ I never fully appreciated the brilliance of that spurious quote of Dorothy Parker until I visited Dukes Bar in Mayfair. It used to be the case – it probably still is – that you may order no more than two martinis there owing to their potency. Had she not preferred whisky to gin, Parker might well have banged her fists on that table for a third.