Cultural Life: Niamh Cusack, actress


Theatre: Brian Friel's masterpiece 'Faith Healer' at Bristol's Old Vic is a haunting, mysterious play. Three people telling their version of the same sad story. At Salisbury Playhouse I saw 'The Constant Wife' by Somerset Maugham, a witty period piece about sexual politics. At the Old Vic, I went to see 'A Flea in her Ear', which reminded me of those silent movies with everyone running away from each other at top speed and then bumping into each other anyway...

Visual Arts: I loved Book of the Dead at the British Museum. It was reassuring to think that even 5,000 years ago, we were grappling with what happens in the afterlife. The artistry is sublime. The exhibition was so carefully and lovingly curated. I wandered round with the audio tour ringing in my ears. The curator's accent was a delight in itself: his lovely rolled "r's" as he enunciated "Osiris" and "papyrus".

Films: I loved 'The King's Speech'. I watched an eerie, unsettling film on DVD called 'Lourdes', about a young woman with MS in search of a miracle.

Books: This week, I finished 'Olive Kitteridge' by Elizabeth Strout, which won the Pulitzer prize a couple of years ago. The novel is really a series of short stories about small-town lives, all linked (sometimes tenuously) to Olive, who is an anti-heroine: a big rough diamond of a woman who fights with those she loves best but is unexpected in her compassion and tenderness as well as her fury and frustration. Very fine. I'm reading 'Of Mutability' by Jo Shapcott (above). I love poetry; the way a moment in time, a detail, an emotion is examined, celebrated. And this collection does just that. I don't understand all the poems but I'm sitting with them until I do.

Niamh Cusack performs in 'Cause Célèbre' at the Old Vic, London SE1 (0844 871 7628; www.oldvictheatre.com) 17 March to 11 June

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