Written by Danai Gurira and starring Letitia Wright – both Black Panther alumni – The Convert shines like a glittering bauble in Kwame Kwei-Armah’s first season at the Young Vic. But this production is about much more than flashy casting: while the play isn’t new, having been first seen in the US in 2012 and staged only last year at the Gate in London, it has the feeling of a modern classic. And under Ola Ince’s direction, this is a fiercely realised staging of it.
It has been a strange year for women’s rights. In the UK, a survey found that most people don’t know what constitutes sexual assault, while a woman’s lace thong was considered as evidence against her in a recent rape trial. It’s timely, then, to see a hyperbolic version of this trajectory unfold on screen, which is what writer Jess Brittain has done with the second series of Clique, the smart BBC3 thriller exploring a world in which men are fed up with being portrayed as “the victim”.
Ali Mohammad Rezaie does not celebrate his birthday because his Afghan parents never noted the date he was born. More than 1 million people have come to Germany as migrants since 2015 under Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open door policy. Rezaie is among those doing their best to make Germany home, but integration is a journey with many highs and lows and it requires more than simply finding a job and learning German.
After 45 years as a dedicated deputy headteacher, Edward is looking forward to the forthcoming – and unprecedentedly extensive – celebrations that are to honour his retirement. It quickly emerges that, in the course of researching a pageant about his career, the students have uncovered evidence which proves that – before the practice was outlawed in 1986 – it was Edward’s particular duty as the deputy head to inflict corporal punishment. Now his estranged daughter Anna has arrived, complicating things due to the emotional scars from her own past as well as her ideological rivalry with Edward.
Swan Lake with male swans: Matthew Bourne’s reinvention of the world’s favourite ballet is still a marvel. For this revival, he and regular collaborators Lez Brotherston and Paule Constable have refreshed their staging, but the shape and the urgency of Bourne’s storytelling continue to sing out. This is a Swan Lake that taps into the power of the classic – the yearning for love, for freedom – while finding its own spellbinding imagery.
Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper will go head-to-head at the 25th Screen Actors Guild Awards. In the female category, Emily Blunt is recognised for Mary Poppins Returns, alongside The Wife's Glenn Close, Olivia Colman in The Favourite, Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born and Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Philip Glass is hard to pin down. If you think you know who Philip Glass is, you probably don’t. To some, he’s Einstein on the Beach, the breakout avant-garde opera he created with director Robert Wilson in 1976.
The second most disliked video on YouTube is now one of its own. YouTube Rewind 2018, an eight-minute clip looking back at the past 12 months, has received 7.3m dislikes since the platform released it on 6 December. It's not far behind the music video for Justin Bieber's Baby, which has been the most disliked clip on the website for several years and currently has 9.7m thumbs down.
Richard Attenborough’s movie portrayal of Father Christmas has been voted the nation’s favourite of all time, according to a survey.
The Jungle, the play about a French refugee camp which finished its run at London’s National Theatre last month, was an obvious candidate to transfer to New York: critically lauded, commercially successful, timely and talked about. The show’s creative team and producers were reluctant to move the play without all the cast members, saying their life experiences – several had lived in the Calais refugee camp being depicted – gave the show its authenticity. “The odds were against us,” says Stephen Daldry, who is directing the play alongside Justin Martin.
Kevin Hart has stepped down as Oscars host just two days after he was named in the role, amid anger over a series of homophobic tweets. The actor and comedian said he had refused to apologise for the tweets, which were posted from 2009-2011 and have mostly been deleted, when asked to do so by the Academy Awards organisers.
Matthew Dunster’s production of True West is the first major revival of a Sam Shepard work since the playwright’s death in July last year. The 1980 play is a wonderfully warped and blackly farcical study of sibling rivalry, of the self-division within Shepard himself, and of two sides of the national psyche pitted against each other. There’s been no shortage of major talent keen to play the warring brothers as these are meaty parts – John Malkovich and Gary Sinise portrayed them for Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 1982, and Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C Reilly performed on Broadway in 2000.
The heroine’s magical journey takes her from a family party to the glitter of the Land of Sweets, where Marianela Nuñez is a Sugar Plum Fairy of radiant warmth and grandeur. The Nutcracker is an inevitable part of ballet’s Christmas, with its irresistible Tchaikovsky score and a storyline packed with transformations and fantasy. The actual plot itself is subject to change – drastically in Disney’s recent The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, or more gently from ballet company to ballet company.
Last year the 33rd manifestation of the Turner Prize hit the buffers. The Ferens itself had just been newly refurbished, and the entire institution seemed to pivot about the Turner – it has seldom felt quite so feted at its home base, Tate Britain, to which it has returned this year, even though the Stuckists seem to have lost interest in hating it so much these days. Could that be because there’s too much else that’s truly appalling happening in the shrieking rat’s nest of contemporary art?
In last week’s episode of The Little Drummer Girl (BBC1), Commander Picton, Charles Dance’s contemptuous UK intelligence officer, recalled torturing a young Israeli man decades earlier in a failed attempt to extract information. “When I let him go,” he said, “I thought to myself, ‘God if I haven’t made a little drummer boy right here, ready to bang his gong into the next battle they find for him, I don’t know what I’ve done’.” The question heading into tonight’s final episode was this: into which battle will our little drummer girl be marching? Charlie, whose moral flip-flopping would be infuriating if it wasn’t for the warm, nuanced charisma with which Florence Pugh imbues her, is newly returned from the exhilarating hell of her Lebanese training camp.
“I looked at my partner [the actor Tom Anderson] and he looked at me, and we thought there’s no way,” she says, with a laugh. When she did indeed take the Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright, for her debut play Nine Night (which comes with a substantial cheque donated by Wintour's daughter, Anna), the warmth and depth of the applause sustained her all the way across the stalls.
It’s not a typical problem in the life of a theatre reviewer, but then, audience lap dances and all, Magic Mike Live is not your typical theatrical experience. Instead, this much-hyped extension of Hollywood star Channing Tatum’s film franchise about “male entertainers” is strip show, dance spectacular, and wannabe feminist entertainment all rolled into one. Through two films, and now this stage off-shoot, Tatum has certainly played a blinder, in capitalising on his brief pre-Hollywood career as an exotic dancer.
In Ireland, it’s not the John Lewis advert or the Coca Cola bus that heralds the arrival of Christmas: it’s The Late Late Toy Show. Since its debut in 1975, the Toy Show has won a special place in Irish hearts, and a legion of viewers. Once a year, a few weeks before Christmas, it delivers a festive highlight: The Late Late Toy Show.
On 2 November 1987, Bruce Willis, having just dashed from the set of hit TV romcom Moonlighting, found himself gazing down from the roof of a five-storey parking garage on the Westside of Los Angeles. John McTiernan’s valentine to every-dude grit, pump-action one-liners and blood-stained vests would achieve more or less immediate recognition as one of the greatest action movies ever made. Along the way, Die Hard gave us one of the all-time great cinematic villains in Alan Rickman’s German terrorist Hans Gruber – the alpha and omega of the Hollywood Euro-baddie.
Fernand Léger was different. The years between 1918 and 1923 have become known as his “mechanical period”, his work from the time reflecting an infatuation with machinery. In 1924, Léger even made his own film, Ballet Mécanique: an experimental, narrative-free piece featuring 300 shots in just 12 minutes, with pistons, carnival rides and egg whisks among the fleetingly captured subjects.
I always thought I would get into painting, but I got waylaid by rock 'n' roll. And then I had children, so that was game over for me. Finally, once the girls were out of the house and I was living in a place that had a room I could use as a studio, I thought, "Now's the time." As soon as I was in a situation where I could be alone and paint without any interruptions, I just couldn't stop.
“God, I’ve played a lot of policeman,” says Daniel Mays with a smile. Perhaps his most powerful constabulary turn, though, was in the third series of Line of Duty, in which he played a ruthlessly corrupt firearms officer covering up his unlawful lethal shooting of a suspect. Then came The Interrogation of Tony Martin.
Die Stadt ohne Juden – “The City without Jews” – was the title of a novel published in Vienna in 1922, whose author Hugo Bettauer wanted to highlight growing anti-Semitism. Its plot sounds familiar: a fictional politician in his fictional city of Utopia orders the expulsion of all Jews, with the government borrowing special trains to help carry out the order. Breslauer was a lifelong opportunist who later joined the Nazi party, but at the time of making the film his vision of the gathering political storm was clear-eyed.