Arts Diary

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The Independent Culture
SOME ACTORS are prepared to go to Yorkshire to get away from London audiences. The humorist Barry Fantoni, Private Eye veteran and playwright, has gone one better. He has opened his latest, Modigliani, My Love - the last hour and a half in the life of the artist's mistress - at Le Bouffon theatre in Paris, with some performances in French and some in English. "I just think the audiences in Paris are more responsive," he says. "The alternative and fringe theatre we see here in England tends not to be written with the accent on language and poetry. I like the cosmopolitan scene in Paris and my long-term plans now are to do what Peter Brook did and start a small theatre company there. I suppose it's because of my nationality." But surely your origins are Italian, Barry? "Yes, but a lot of Italians live in Paris." There's a profound logic in that, somewhere, but probably a Franco-Italian logic.

ASK THE Rabbi, say I, if you want a piece of film criticism. This week's protests by Messrs Menuhin, Rostropovich and other distinguished musicians about the film Hilary and Jackie had the actress Emily Watson, who plays Jacqueline du Pre, close to despair: despair, as she told me at the premiere, that so many people are slamming the movie without having seen it.

An incisive commentary comes from Rabbi Albert Friedlander, who ministered to du Pre in her last years (she converted to Judaism on marrying Daniel Barenboim). He says in the premiere programme, Inside Film: "Hilary wanted to pull Jackie down from the pedestal on which she'd been placed, and there's probably some justice to that. In the end, it doesn't serve any purpose to have a St Jacqueline who was perfect in every way, suffered bravely, went into darkness. That's not the reality... it is probably better we see the anguished life of a genius. I don't think in the end that Shaffer's play about Mozart [Amadeus] deprived Mozart of the adoration he received."

In fact, the film seemed more even-handed than has been suggested, and I said to Hilary du Pre at the party afterwards that she may have been unfairly vilified. By the way she grasped my hands for a full 90 seconds, I gathered she'd had a rough few weeks.

IF EMILY Watson does win a Golden Globe tomorrow, as she should for her brilliant performance, she should desist from thanking anyone in her acceptance speech. At Wednesday's premiere the film's director, producer and screenwriter all made speeches consisting largely of thanking people who were completely unknown to the bulk of the audience. Mass thanking from a public platform is a curse of the arts and mind-numbingly boring. It forms the staple acceptance speech at every awards ceremony I attend - enlivened only once, when Vanessa Redgrave broke down in tears while thanking the stage carpenter. Anyone about to make an acceptance speech should heed the advice of Cerys Matthews, singer with Catatonia. Before receiving a Q award she was asked, backstage, whom she would be thanking. She replied: "People shouldn't get thanks for being in this business. They're lucky buggers."

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