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A double-bill set in a hotel, libretto by Caryl Churchill, music by Orlando Gough and choreography by Ian Spink for dance-theatre company Second Stride. "Eight Rooms" superimposes separate couples over one night with 13 singers, piano duet and bass; "Two Nights" is a dance-led tale of mortality for two dancers and chorus.

Paul Taylor praised "Eight Rooms", "a densely-layered modern opera", but was slightly less sure of "Two Nights" although he pointed to its "strange, suggestive power". "The musical-verbal effect is much like one of Sondheim's more glibly cynical essays in people-watching. But repetition - always a key Second Stride device - starts to become more deeply lyrical and expressive," admired the FT. "As their voices mingle and soar, the triviality of their individual moments combine to become something tender and humane ... [`Two Rooms'] neither specific nor compelling enough," asserted The Guardian. "`Eight Rooms' is more imaginative in its form than its content ... cool, casual jazz, rising to a crescendo when sex is on the agenda ... `Two Nights' is more elusive, poetic, striking and substantial," nodded The Times.

At The Place, London WC1 (0171-387 0031) tonight; Manchester Dancehouse (0161-237 9753) 2-3 May.

Second Stride more than live up to the overworked term "innovative" with Spink's surreal choreography of Gough's jazz-inflected setting of Churchill's strikingly allusive libretto.



A newly restored 70mm print of Hitchcock's 1958 film which was poorly received on its initial release due to the extraordinary device of revealing the plot to the audience halfway through. Vertigo sufferer and former policeman James Stewart becomes obsessed with the woman he's tailing, Kim Novak.

Adam Mars-Jones hailed an "astonishingly influential film, and its themes of repetition and compulsive romanticism, its lush bleakness or bleak lushness". "One of the most extraordinary and nerve-jangling scores ever written ... Explores the dark side of men, the cruelty and manipulation that can lie behind the most loving male-female relationships," said the Mail. "No actor in the history of film has better conveyed the moral being ... One of the handful of finest movies ever made," gloried The Telegraph. "A film about illusion and delusion, stamped with Stewart's perplexed eyes and the trance-like stare of Novak, ice-cold but teasing, haunted and haunting," revelled The Times. "A dream-like quality to the film that Hitchcock never matched," marvelled The Guardian. "The greatest American love story of the last 50 years," announced the Standard.

128 mins, PG, at the Lumiere, London WC2 (0171-836 0691)

A magnificent restoration of a masterpiece, a truly fascinating film about fear, control, guilt, transference, necrophilia ... all the things you miss in contemporary thrillers.


Caucasian Chalk Circle

Simon McBurney directs and plays the dodgy judge in one of Brecht's most famous plays with members of Theatre de Complicite and an international cast in the new Olivier-in-the-round at the National Theatre. Juliet Stevenson plays Grusha who saves a child and is forced to pay the consequences. Music by Gerard McBurney.

Paul Taylor enjoyed Complicite again creating "theatrical magic with the simplest of means ... Juliet Stevenson's staunch, moving Grusha ... Let's hope that in-the-round seasons become a permanent part of Richard Eyre's legacy." "I was transported ... has the magic of folk legend," applauded The Times. "A piece of epic storytelling ... it asks fundamental questions ... With this superbly democratic production, Complicite have staked their own claim to the transformed Olivier stage," saluted The Guardian. "McBurney's staging dissipates theatrical tension ... This major play has been diminished," growled the Standard. "Horrid coarseness ... the acting is almost all appalling," thundered the FT. "Boring old Bertolt Brecht ... it's absolute bliss when it stops," snorted The Telegraph.

In rep at the RNT, London SE1 (0171-928 2252) until 18 June.

At 31/4 hours it's a long evening but after the leaden prologue, a progressively rewarding one. The simplicity and directness of the storytelling and the beautiful choral singing is engrossing.