THE WEEK IN REVIEW

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THE DANCE

MR WORLDLY-WISE

A full-length ballet by America's great choreographer Twyla Tharp, created on star dancers Mukhamedov, Kumakawa, Bussell and the Royal Ballet.

"There is little for which to be truly grateful" despite some "magical and serene" choreography, said Sophie Constanti. Others were either ecstatic or furious. "Bodies sparking fiercely and edgily off each other... configurations so exquisite they still the heart," saluted the Guardian. "Makes the Royal Ballet look terrific," sang the Times. "No choreographer has so diminished the company," scoffed the Evening Standard. "I thought it sentimental, disjunct, uncertain in manner," complained the Financial Times. "Swirling with verve, thrills, beauty and some exceedingly dangerous and exciting moves," cheered the Daily Telegraph.

At Covent Garden (0171-304 4000) until 4 Jan. Tickets are only pounds 2-pounds 27.50.

The biggest critical split of the year, but the audience roared their approval. Tickets are disappearing fast.

After a five-year absence the Mancunian band is back (minus flares) with a new drummer and a second album, shyly entitled The Second Coming.

Ryan Gilbey was incandescent. "London has not witnessed such a shameless display of aural flatulence since Morris Cerrullo was in town, making the same claims to possess miraculous powers. (He's got nothing whatsover to do with music either.)" "How could a group whose lead vocalist can barely hold a note have got so far?" asked the Daily Telegraph; "On disc, thanks to the wonders of studio technology, Brown can carry it off. On stage, he just sounds like a bad karaoke singer." "They need a charisma transfusion," concluded the Evening Standard. NME begged to differ: "Perilously close to being the most vital, essential rock band on the planet".

Further dates in Whitley Bay, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Manchester, Sheffield and London.

Should you have the comeback album, sell it. In years to come it could be held and used in evidence against you.

George "Mad Max" Miller produces a Chris Noonan film (animatronics by Jim The Muppets Henson) about a talking piglet saved from the slaughterhouse.

Adam Mars-Jones declared it "a perfect Christmas film, funny and almost too touching". "As if some Australian with more than a passing interest in Bunuel has been engaged to make a Disney Yuletide attraction," mused the Guardian. "Should have whole families chuckling," decided Time Out. "You're delighted by the sheer surprise of finding yourself so delighted: rarely does that happen in a cinema, exclaimed the Evening Standard. "Glorious... in other hands the whimsy and sugar could prove toxic; not here," praised the Times. "You will never again feel the same about Parma ham," warned the Financial Times.

On general release.

Don't be put off by the unlikely premise. The best Christmas film in years.

"The Big Issue Foundation," says the lady at the door of the Photographers' Gallery, "provides so much more than all the things you already know about."

"Like what?" I ask.

"Well," she says, "acupuncture for the homeless, for a start."

At this, the elderly homeless man listening into our conversation - who has already proposed marriage to the woman from the Evening Standard, sung an Adam Ant song to Adam Ant and told us three anecdotes about Frank Sinatra - bursts into uncontrollable fits of laughter.

"Acupuncture?" he screams. "Not only are we sleeping in boxes, but now you want to stick needles into our necks?"

"Yes," says the lady, with a brittle expression. "Acupuncture. Some people like it. Right. Let's go inside and get some wine."

"Okay," I say.

"Okay," says the homeless man.

"Ah. Right. Have you a ticket?" says the lady to the homeless man, kindly but firmly.

"No, no," he replies, wearily. "I was just joking. Don't worry yourself. Goodbyeee!" And he wanders off into the freezing fog, and vanishes from view.

One can almost be reminded, if one is cruel enough, of the old days when black performers were allowed to entertain at the clubs, but couldn't sit in the audience. Nowadays, homeless people can be celebrity fund-raised, but they can't - naturally - attend the celebrity fund-raising parties. They are standing right next to us in spirit, needless to say, we are all sympathising with their plight tonight, here inside the gallery, at the Big Issue fund-raiser, as we chat in an erudite fashion to the celebrity photographers who have donated 10 per cent of the proceeds of their sales to the poor people outside in the freezing fog. And the chat is about nothing, if it is not about the plight of the homeless. Nobody is heard to be chatting about anything less consequential.

"This is real," says Adam Ant. "It's reality. Look at that photo."

We dutifully - no, enthusiastically - examine the photo of a sunken man with a tale to tell in his eyes. It's a Helmut Newton, I think, or maybe one of the Annie Liebowitz Bosnia photos. Hard to tell whether he's a Bosnian old man or a London old man.

"That," says Adam Ant, "is reality. Look at his face. He's seen some things."

"And what are you doing at the moment?" says the woman from the Evening Standard. "What are your plans?"

"Well, now's not the appropriate time to talk about it," says Adam, "but I've got glandular fever. We all came down with it, the bass player, the drummer, when we were recently touring America. And there's another album in the pipeline."

Yes, the homeless are everywhere in spirit: in the canapes, the wine, in the photographs, in the personal message from Faith Brown written up in cardboard on the wall ("Children of the world, let's love each other..." or something). And, even though special guests The Beverly Sisters haven't turned up, I have no doubt that the homeless people are with them in spirit also. And they're probably in spirit with Joanna Lumley too, wherever she may be.

"Where's Joanna Lumley?" asks one of the many press photographers. "The press release says she's coming." "No, no," contends one of the organisers. "The press release says she's invited, and she's expected, but not that she's actually coming." "Aah," says the photographer, darkly.

And outside, when the elegant crowd spills out on to the pavement - to chat eruditely about things, and smoke cigarettes - the Big Issue sellers descend in force, and we all buy one.

"How are you doing?" one gallery-goer says to the young homeless man slumped on the floor.

"Pretty bad," says the homeless man.

"Oh I know," says the non-homeless. "Cold. Wouldn't be out there myself... don't envy your job at all. Not job of course..."

"I haven't got a job," says the homeless man. "I had one, but I got sacked. I worked in a lighter factory..."

"I realise you haven't got a job," says the non-homeless. "It was just a figure of speech. Sorry. I didn't mean it."

"Come and sit down here with me," says the homeless man. "Come on. Have a seat. Come on."

But - after a moment's thought - the non-homeless man politely declines.

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