May 12, 2011


Bully Boy

Major Oscar Hadley is flown to the front line to probe allegations of severe misconduct within a self-styled "Bully Boy" unit of the British Army. Yet when young squaddie Eddie Clark is interrogated, he soon begins to discover that it is almost impossible to get at the truth of what happens during the constant cut and thrust of a modern insurgency. Comedian and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig's powerful new play, at the Nuffield Theatre until 28 May, raises uncomfortable questions about the nature of heroism, military occupation and its impact on the mental health of serving soldiers. Directed by Patrick Sandford, who also worked with Toksvig on her first play, Charity Begins (2009), it stars Anthony Andrews, recently seen as Stanley Baldwin in The King's Speech.

St Ives

Tate St Ives Summer Exhibition

This year's summer season, which runs from 14 May until 25 September, brings together an eclectic mix of modern and contemporary works - from the Tate Collection as well as on loan - in what amounts to a series of independent one-room displays. Yet they are united by an emphasis on space, structure and light - highly appropriate to the beachside setting. Highlights include some beautiful late works by the US abstract expressionist Agnes Martin (1912-2004); a striking piece by Martin Creed, Half the Air in a Given Space, which will fill the spectacular sea-facing galleries with hundreds of balloons; and a display of paintings and constructions by Margaret Mellis (1914-2009).


Asia House Festival of Asian Literature

Established in 2007, this is still the only literary festival in Britain devoted solely to Asian literature. This year's line-up includes an evening of Persian poetry (18 May) and a celebration of new Persian cooking (21 May). There will be an exploration of "global feminisms" (16 May) and a discussion of "Iraq - Lost Homeland or Salvageable Nation?" (23 May), while Angela Saini, author of Geek Nation, asks "Will Indian Science Take Over the World?" (24 May). Writers from India, Mauritius and Zanzibar will explore the notion of literary connections across the Indian Ocean (25 May). And the closing night, at the Commonwealth Club on 26 May, will feature Hanif Kureishi "saying it like it is" in conversation with Kenan Malik.


Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads

Although he was detained by the Chinese government in April, Ai Weiwei had already approved the installation of the 12 vast bronze animal heads on display until 26 June in the historic Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court at London's Somerset House - the first pieces of contemporary sculpture ever to be displayed there. These represent re-creations of the Chinese zodiac sculptures that once adorned the fountain-clock at the Yuanming Yuan imperial retreat in Beijing. They have already been shown in Brazil and in the Grand Army Plaza in New York's Central Park, with a world tour of other venues to follow. The London exhibition will be accompanied by talks on the artist and his work, China today, "politics in the age of Twitter" and "art, activism and the avant-garde".


Bette & Joan

Although they played up to it and the press exaggerated it, the 30-year feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford remains one of the most famous in movie history. In this new play by Anton Burge, we find them on the set of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), the classic over-the-top thriller in which both played film stars and which, against all the odds, proved a huge hit and propelled them back to real-life stardom. At a time when even world-famous actresses were treated appallingly by the Hollywood machine, can the two women recognise their similarities and find a kind of solidarity within their rivalry? The production, which stars Greta Scacchi as Davis and Anita Dobson as Crawford, continues at the Arts Theatre until 25 June.

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