Alice Jones' Arts Diary: There's only one response to this sort of squeamishness: they're Talking C*ck


The Edinburgh Fringe has come over a bit Mary Whitehouse.

Stand-up Stuart Goldsmith was the first to raise the alarm when he was told that his show title Prick would be printed Pr!ck in the programme. Richard Herring was then told that his title would be edited to Talking C*ck, though it appeared unasterisked when he first took the show to the Fringe in 2002. A 40-word blurb in the brochure costs £400, or £10 a word. A quarter-page ad costs £1,200.

Herring, who was forced to change both, tells me: "It's insulting. This is my 25th anniversary Fringe – it's a festival I love and it's the artistic freedom that makes it great... It's worrying that it's becoming so organised and so corporate." It's also inconsistent. Herring's uncensored posters will plaster the city come August and, as comedy website Chortle points out, shows called Kunt and the Gang and Reginald D Hunter's Work in Progress... And Niggas have escaped the censors. A Fringe spokesman said: "We have a responsibility to make sure the programme is suitable for as wide an audience as possible."

Writers' views canvassed on their pictures at an exhibition

Writers are notoriously vain creatures so it was brave of Dan Llywelyn Hall to paint the portraits of 30 men and women of letters and then ask for their verdicts. The artist, 32, whose picture of Harry Patch was nominated for the BP Portrait Award in 2009, will unveil his work, with comments from his subjects, at a show at St John's Chapel Gallery in Hay-on-Wye next Friday, to coincide with Hay Festival.

Andrew Motion ("I thought, 'Do I really look like that?'"), Tracy Chevalier ("Most people think I am younger than I really am, but Dan has clearly seen something else in me. Here I look old and tired. And sad. Am I really that sad?'"); and ex-director of the V&A, Roy Strong ("I would be interested to know whether, if this was unlabelled, anyone would recognise me") are among those offering muted appraisal. Hilary Spurling, prize-winning biographer of Matisse, refrained from commenting on hers.

Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood for these rival Henry Vs

Twice more unto the breach, dear friends! As patriotism sweeps the nation, two Henry Vs will battle for audiences next month. Dominic Dromgoole's production arrives at The Globe next month, with the monarch played by former History Boy, Jamie Parker. Then there's a lavish BBC2 version, starring Tom Hiddleston and directed by Thea Sharrock. The film will screen as part of a cycle of four History Plays commissioned for the Cultural Olympiad and produced by Sam Mendes. Jeremy Irons and Simon Russell Beale also star as Henry IV and Falstaff. Dishonour not your mothers, boys!

It's all a boys act: where are the leading ladies?

This is a golden period for young female playwrights. Laura Wade's Posh has just transferred to the West End, Ella Hickson's Boys opens at Trafalgar Studios next week, not to mention Polly Stenham, Anya Reiss and Penelope Skinner. It's not looking so rosy for actresses, though. Speaking at Queen's Park Book Festival last week, Dame Harriet Walter said: "There are all these young female playwrights but they are writing plays full of men. Think of Posh or Enron – both West End plays and neither with a single leading female role." Good point.

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