Arts: Arts Diary

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The Independent Culture
PERSONALLY, I like football. But there are those who don't, and they might choose to avoid it by going to a concert at the Royal Festival Hall. Tough luck for them.

From next Monday the RFH are relaying World Cup matches on a screen in the foyer, and if any of the matches goes into extra time, the start of the concert will be delayed. The man responsible is the laconic Liverpudlian broadcaster John Peel who is in charge of this year's Meltdown Festival at the Hall.

Peel, needless to say, is very much a football fan. But for those who are not, it will be rather trying to have a half hour delay because Nigeria gets a late equaliser. Trains won't wait; restaurant reservations have to be cancelled; babysitter fees mount up. And why is it only football that receives preferential treatment? Of course, the South Bank Centre management could always start the concerts on time and forget the gimmick.

WHEN IT COMES to gimmicks, though, the South Bank Centre cannot hold a candle to Derek Deane, artistic director of the English National Ballet. Deane received far too much publicity this week for telling his dancers to make love as much as possible before the coming run of Romeo and Juliet at the Royal Albert Hall.

It's not so much that this is a pretty tacky way of selling tickets (though it is). What irks more is that Deane does not seem to appreciate the story he is choreographing.

Romeo and Juliet were not a happy couple with a regular comfortable sexual routine. If Deane really wanted his dancers to become method actors he should have instructed them to dump their current partners, find new loves, pine after them, have all too brief a time together, tell their parents to get lost, ensure that they then lose their new partners in tragic circumstances, and endeavour to have a street brawl on the way. True, the ballerinas would come on stage looking pretty exhausted; but then they probably will anyway if they follow their artistic director's instructions.

THERE IS ONE scandalous aspect to The Rolling Stones gimme (tax) shelter story. It took many of us by surprise to learn in their row with the Treasury this week that Keith Richards pays no tax here at all because he is now an American citizen and indeed lives in the States. Keef an American! When did one of Britain's national treasures cease to be British? Decaying and in need of restoration he may be, but this still looks like yet another careless cultural lapse by the Government. Why wasn't an export stop put on this prime exhibit of post-war popular culture?

TOM STOPPARD took cast members of his play The Real Inspector Hound out to dinner at the end of a performance at the Comedy Theatre recently. He entered the Italian restaurant and said he had a table booked in the name of Stoppard. The waiter tried several times to pronounce the name. The playwright enunciated it helpfully. Then the waiter beamed and said: "Ah. Stoppard. Of course. As in Dr Miriam." The playwright's face, I am told, was a joy to behold.

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