December 22, 2011

BBC Radio 4

The Mumbai Chuzzlewits

Convinced that his relatives are after his money, wealthy old landlord Martin Chuzzlewit has adopted an orphan called Mary as his carer. Although she will be housed and fed as long as he lives, she will inherit nothing - a seemingly foolproof plan to ensure that she will do everything possible to keep him in good health. Yet when his grandson Mickey falls in love with her and is cut out of his will, it soon triggers a complex web of deceit, betrayal and manipulation. In this gripping and fast-paced drama, recorded on location in India, award-winning writer Ayeesha Menon has reimagined the events of Charles Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit among the Catholic community in modern-day Mumbai.

Sundays 1, 8 and 15 January, 3pm-4pm


Lygia Pape: Magnetized Space

Lygia Pape (19-2004) was a leading Brazilian artist who became a founder member of the pioneering Neo-Concrete movement. Her work combined formal rigour with a commitment to daring experimentation exemplified in her statement that "I always want to invent a new language that's different for me and for others...I want to discover new things." Although initially interested in European abstraction, she soon began to address specifically local issues such as the political repression of the 1960s and later turned to the direct depiction of emotion and sensation. This exhibition, at the Serpentine Gallery until 19 February, ranges across her whole career, featuring drawings, poems, books and boxes as well as ballets and performances such as Divisor (Divider) and O ovo (The Egg).


Coram Boy

Alexander Ashbrook is a well-born and talented young man determined to become a musician. Forced by his father to choose between his two great passions, music and family, he makes the painful decision to abandon his home, his first love - and, unbeknown to him, his unborn child. Based on Jamila Gavin's celebrated children's book of the same name, Helen Edmundson's play is set in southwest England in the 18th century, following the linked stories of Alexander and the son he never knew from stately homes to slave tunnels, by way of cathedrals and Thomas Coram's newly opened Foundling Hospital in London. A hymn to the power of human kindness to transform people's lives, Bristol Old Vic's new production runs at Colston Hall from 22 to 30 December (except Christmas Day).


Noises Off

Based on a one-act play called Exits (1977), Michael Frayn's Noises Off was first performed in 1982 and soon established itself as a rare example of a classic modern farce. A hilarious play within a play, it takes us front and back stage of an amateur touring company's production of a dreadful sex comedy called Nothing On. The disastrous dress rehearsal reveals a cast still fumbling with entrances, exits and bothersome props such as a plate of sardines. But although it seems as if things can only get better, rivalries, jealousies and the occasional drink too many ensure that later performances are equally notable for missed cues, forgotten lines and attempted violence. Billed as this year's Christmas show, Noises Off continues its run at The Old Vic until 10 March.


Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People

The 14 paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries in this exhibition were once believed to represent famous sitters including Queen Elizabeth I, but their identities are now disputed and unclear. Renowned authors such as John Banville, Tracy Chevalier, Julian Fellowes, Alexander McCall Smith, Terry Pratchett, Joanna Trollope and Minette Walters have been given an opportunity to imagine the stories behind the mystery portraits. Their fictional biographies accompany the exhibition. New research, much of it carried out by MA students from the University of Bristol, assesses the traditional claims and, in some cases, proposes alternative identifications. Imagined Lives continues at the National Portrait Gallery until 22 July.

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