Artspeople: Doctor of spin tipped to be master of arts

Whenever two or more artspeople are gathered together, it seems to be the main topic of conversation: who will be Secretary of State for the National Heritage if Labour wins the election? The loud whisper coming from them as should know is that it will be Peter Mandelson, aka as spin doctor supreme. He is rather more arty than is generally known. He is a trustee of the Whitechapel Art Gallery and is on the board of the English National Ballet, at whose functions he has been spotted deep in conversation with the ENB's patron, the Princess of Wales on matters balletic. A frenetic disco dancer himself, Mr Mandelson has not yet taken to the floor with the ENB patron.

Irvine Welsh's new play Marabou Stork Nightmares, the follow-up to Trainspotting which started life on the stage, premieres in England at the Leicester Haymarket Theatre on 20 September. Will the chronicler of urban squalor and underclass nihilism change his spots and give us a tender love story or drawing room comedy perhaps? Make up your own mind from this.The plot, adapted from Welsh's own novel, is described on the Haymarket's advertising thus: "The play plunges into the comatose brain of Roy Strang who recalls being randomly battered, is forced by his hardman father to box his camp elder brother, terrorises a teenage girl at knifepoint, sexually abuses a younger boy at school, participates in a sickeningly brutal gang rape and viciously tortures a dog that once bit him."

The Swan pictured below will, as Mr Mandelson no doubt knows, be part of the first ballet to play a season at a West End theatre since Diaghilev's The Sleeping Princess in 1921. An extremely raunchy Swan Lake, presented by Adventures In Motion Pictures, choreographed by Matthew Bourne with swans that are chaps, will have almost as many dancers in the audience as on the stage at the Piccadilly Theatre for Wednesday's first night, among them Dame Alicia Markova, Natalia Makarova, Lynn Seymour, Darcey Bussell and Viviana Durante.

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