The Diary: Joe Orton; The Fighter; David Hare; Grayson Perry; Les Dennis
Friday 21 January 2011
In 1962, Joe Orton and his lover Kenneth Halliwell were sent to prison for six months for stealing and defacing books from their local library. Bored by the selection on offer the pair amused themselves by sneaking out dust jackets and altering them with collages and their own text. "I used to stand in the corners after I'd smuggled the doctored books back into the library and then watch people read them. It was very fun", noted Orton in his diaries. Now some of the defaced books, normally hidden in storage at the Islington Local History Centre, have gone on show at London's Ancient and Modern gallery. It was Adam Gillam's idea to exhibit them, alongside his own sculptures. "My work is not as racy, but there's a shared playful spirit," says the artist. "They're provocative and amusing." Covers on show include The Collected Plays of Emlyn Williams, with altered titles including Night Must Fall to "Knickers Must Fall"; Agatha Christie's The Secret of Chimneys with added cats; and Collins Guide to Roses in which a monkey's face unexpectedly stares out from the centre of a beautiful English rose.
Sisters of mercy
As critics and award juries alike have noted, authenticity drips off The Fighter like sweat off a boxer's chin. Mark Wahlberg spent four- and-a-half years in training to play the fighter Micky Ward, while Christian Bale lost 30lb to play his deadbeat junkie brother, Dicky Eklund. The movie was filmed in the heart of blue-collar Massachusetts, and Mickey O'Keefe, a local cop who trained Ward for five years, plays himself.
Pulling no punches in his quest for gritty, true-life drama, director David O Russell also found parts for Ward's sisters and his uncle Gerry, who appears as the boss of the paving company where the brothers worked. "We had to have them in the movie," says Russell. "They're just amazing people. We wanted to be absolutely respectful of who these people are and, at the same time, be direct about the truth of their story." The scene-stealing, big-haired line-up of seven sisters who belligerently track Micky's every move – sporting and romantic – are played by a mix of established actresses, local amateurs and TV host Conan O'Brien's sister, Kate, in her acting debut. Not all of the sisters were happy with their on-screen incarnations, though, with Phyllis "Beaver" Eklund storming out of an early screening. "I talked to the family about it," Russell told the New York Daily News. "And they said, 'One out of seven ain't bad"."
Licence to Bill
Filming has started on Page Eight, David Hare's first original screenplay in 20 years. It stars Bill Nighy as an MI5 officer embroiled in a tricksy case after his boss (Michael Gambon) dies suddenly. "David wrote this part for Bill," I'm told. "They have a long-standing relationship. Bill adores David." Nighy last appeared in Hare's The Vertical Hour on Broadway in 2006. Ralph Fiennes, playing the Prime Minister, makes up a heavyweight trio of leading men, but Page Eight focuses on "Bill surrounded by his women", apparently. Rachel Weisz , Saskia Reeves, Judy Davis and Felicity Jones all co-star. The BBC2 thriller screens later this year.
A kinky morning
Just in time for Valentine's Day, Grayson Perry is to take to the lectern at London's School of Life to deliver a morning (gulp!) lecture on the joys of kinky sex. The Turner Prize-winning potter and flamboyant cross-dresser has previously claimed his first sexual experience came aged eight when he tied himself up in his own pyjamas, while his decorative pots often reveal sado-masochist sex scenes when looked at close-up. The event on 13 February will celebrate "a more creative, daring, playful and honest approach to sex", as part of a series of determinedly secular sermons for modern urbanites.
Reversal of fortune
Think famous failures, think Les Dennis, right? Ever since the ex-Family Fortunes host appeared on Extras as a broken and cuckolded panto star, it has been tricky to separate the two. Now Dennis is to appear in the London premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's satire on celebrity Drowning on Dry Land. The play centres on Charlie Conrad, a man who has achieved great fame simply by being a failure. Dennis plays Conrad's womanising, ruthless agent, Jason. No, not Conrad – shame on you for typecasting!
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