February 3, 2011



Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, published anonymously in 1818 when she was just 19, remains one of the archetypal statements of anxiety about modernity, progress and science. It has been endlessly reinterpreted by everyone from pulp-film directors to psychoanalytic critics, and seems particularly resonant in an age of cloning, new reproductive technologies and genetic engineering. This new production, adapted by Nick Dear, opens at the National Theatre on 5 February and remains in repertory until 17 April. It is directed by Danny Boyle, winner of the best director Academy Award for Slumdog Millionaire. For this staging, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller will alternate the roles of Frankenstein and the Creature.


The Poetry of Drawing: Pre-Raphaelite Designs, Studies and Watercolours

This exhibition at Birmingham Museum (until 15 May) represents the largest survey of Pre-Raphaelite drawings and watercolours ever staged, and includes works by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and Edward Burne-Jones that have never before been exhibited. Textiles, stained glass and ceramics by designers such as William Morris, William de Morgan and Florence Camm are displayed alongside their original working drawings. Themes explored include the training of artists, the development of Pre-Raphaelite theories of naturalism, and the promotion of new, "intense" subjects for painting and illustration. The Poetry of Drawing includes works by all the leading figures: from the original Brotherhood and their mentor John Ruskin through the "second generation" to later artists influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites such as Aubrey Beardsley.


Pierre Cordier: Into the Labyrinth

Born in 1933, the Belgian artist Pierre Cordier is an essentially self-taught photographer who was encouraged by the French singer-songwriter Georges Brassens to follow "a road not yet travelled and full of obstacles". In 1956, he invented the chemigram, a technique for producing "photographs" in full natural light using varnish, wax, oil, photosensitive emulsion, developer and fixer, but without a camera or enlarger. Some of Cordier's images can be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum's exhibition Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography (until 20 February). Now he is also the subject of a solo exhibition at HackelBury Fine Art (until 31 March), which brings together material from more than half a century, much from his own collection, including new editioned work as well as unique original chemigrams dating back to the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.


Sandra Bernhard: Whatever It Takes

The daughter of a proctologist and an abstract artist who wanted her to become a dental hygienist, Sandra Bernhard inevitably rebelled early and became an actress, singer, writer and stand-up comic who has often attracted controversy - most recently by suggesting that Sarah Palin would be gang-raped if she went to Manhattan. She returns to London for the first time in two years with a show based on her latest album (Leicester Square Theatre, 9-13 February). In musical terms, Whatever It Takes is a cross-cultural journey through Africa, the Middle East and South America, although Bernhard's live performances are notable for an almost unique combination of comedy, cabaret and hard-edged social satire.


Sports Lab: The Science Behind the Medals

Does a shark-skin swimsuit really help you to swim faster? How many hours of training do gold medallists need to put in? This exhibition at Weston Park (until 20 November), created by Museums Sheffield in partnership with the Centre for Sports Engineering Research at Sheffield Hallam University, examines just what it takes to get to the top in sport. Items on display include everything from a penny-farthing and Sheffield FC's first rule book to an electronic dancefloor and cutting-edge sports technology.

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