In this week's programme presented by Martha Kearney :
Charles Saumarez Smith |
Stephanie Merritt |
Sarfraz Manzoor |
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Notes on A Scandal
Rapturous reviews and award nominations galore have greeted this Richard Eyre film, adapted by Patrick Marber from the best-selling Zoë Heller novel. It tracks the relationship between spinster teacher Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) and her colleague Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett). Lonely, and alone, Barbara is enraptured by Sheba; younger and married she is embarking on an affair with one of her underage students. As the two women become friends, Sheba's affair is discovered and Barbara attempts to trap Sheba in her debt, to keep her close and allay her chronic isolation. What follows is manipulation, vanity, desire, self-obsession, self-pity and a deranged level of delusion by all. The sheer rottenness of modern life is here, in glorious technicolour. Our panel discuss if there are any chinks of light in this very bleak landscape.
Notes on a Scandal Certificate 15 is on general release
Pinter's People, Theatre Royal Haymarket
Many regard Harold Pinter as Britain's greatest living playwright but he is perhaps less well known for the revue sketches which he has been writing since the 1950s. Actor and comedian Bill Bailey has been a fan of these sketches since he first came across them 20 years ago and has now brought them together to be performed collectively for the first time in a show in which he also stars.
Given the name Pinter's People by Pinter himself, the four strong cast also includes Sally Phillips (Smack the Pony, Jam 'n' Jerusalem), Kevin Eldon (Big Train) and Geraldine McNulty (My Hero) and is directed by Sean Foley (The Right Size, The Play What I Wrote).
The 14 sketches, which range from Trouble in the Works first performed in 1959 to Apart From That written only last year and performed by the playwright himself here on Newsnight Review, deal with Pinter's familiar themes of nameless menace, erotic fantasy, obsession and jealousy, family hatred and mental disturbance. Bailey says "I'd never come across them before and I just thought they were really funny, slightly Pythonesque and a bit surreal. I also thought that if people could see these, it would change the way they think about Pinter. I've always thought he was hilariously funny, but he has this reputation for being sombre, dark and absurd."
Bailey's aim is to offer a great night of comedy and show just how accessible and warm Pinter's writing can be but will the panel think he's succeeded?
Pinter's People continues at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, London until 23rd February 2007
David Golder by Irčne Némirovsky
Irčne Némirovsky is best known as the author of the unfinished bestseller Suite Française, after its publication here in the UK last year. The unfinished manuscript had been found by the author's daughter after her death at Aushwitz in 1942; but it remained unread for fifty years. With its first publication in France in 2004 it was declared a lost masterpiece.
Irčne Némirovsky was an acclaimed novelist in her own lifetime, and penned several novels. In 1929, aged only 26, she shot to fame in France with the publication of her second novel, David Golder. Now re-published in the UK for the first time since 1930, this novel is a brilliant portrait of the frenzied capitalism of the 1920s. David Golder is the story of a wealthy Jewish financier who was born into poverty on the Black Sea, and moved to Paris to make his fortune speculating on gold and oil. At sixty-eight, a lifetime of work has taken its toll on Golder, and following the suicide of his business partner, he begins to make some stark revelations about both his business and family life.
David Golder by Irčne Némirovsky is published by Vintage
Citizens and Kings, Royal Academy, London
The period 1760 - 1830 was a time of political and social upheaval. Revolutions across the Western world, from France to America, caused changes in the way countries were governed but also, thanks to the influence of the Enlightenment, in the way the individual was viewed. By concentrating on portraiture, both painted and sculptural, this exhibition traces the shift in how countries' leading figures were portrayed.
At the beginning of the period we see the bombast and finery of Marie Antoinette and Louis XIV and the need for figures to be shown with their accoutrements, whether inkwell or papers of state, to prove their status. In contrast George Washington stands uneasy in his portrait by Gilbert Stuart, both artist and sitter unsure of the iconography for this new role. By the end of the period a much more realist style had taken hold - families were shown as affectionate groups rather than dynastic triumphs and, as in Ingres' portrait of the journalist and editor Louis-Francois Bertin, the emphasis was on illuminating the psychology of the sitter through accurate portrayal.
The Royal Academy exhibition is curated by the late Robert Rosenblum and features nearly 200 works. It gathers together masterpieces by Reynolds, Ingres, Canova, Gainsborough and David, with works by Goya one of which, of the Conde de Floridablanca, has never been seen in public before.
Citizens and Kings: Portraits in the Age of Revolution continues at the Royal Academy in London until 20 April 2007
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