The Diary: A Walk on Part; Tomas Alfredson; Gilbert & George; After Miss Julie; Piff the Magic Dragon


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The Independent Culture

Political recognition

There is nothing politicians like more than the sound of their own voice, so it was a full house when the cast of A Walk on Part, based on the waspish diaries of the former MP Chris Mullin, visited Parliament for a one-off performance this week. Tony and Hilary Benn, John Bercow, Betty Boothroyd and Mullin were among the 100-strong audience for the show, which was staged in the Speaker's apartment. The play premiered at the Live Theatre in Newcastle, near Mullin's old constituency, last year and will play at London's Soho Theatre from 21 March. A cast of four – including John Hodgkinson as Mullin – play some 100 characters, including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and John Prescott, between them. "I'm 6ft 5in and have a full head of hair and he's a small, rather spritely man," says Hodgkinson. "I'm lucky that most people don't really know what he's like so I can get away with a rather inaccurate impression." What did the man himself think? "He said he'd been played five times on stage and screen, including once by John Hurt," says Hodgkinson, referring to a TV drama based on Mullin's book, Error of Judgement: the Truth about the Birmingham Bombings. "But he said that this was by far the best portrayal of him he'd seen. There were quite a few bitter laughs of recognition."

Original tinkerer

His majestic Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has been overlooked by the awards juries, so Tomas Alfredson could be forgiven for being a little crabby. The director who came to prominence with the Swedish vampire romance Let the Right One In has harsh words for Matt Reeves, who remade the film for Hollywood as Let Me In. "I think that there's something dishonest about copying someone's work," he told The Wall Street Journal. "It's much stronger if you do something personal of your own that's original." Tinker Tailor, of course, was a remake of a 1979 BBC series but that, says the director, is completely different. "There are so many ways to tell the same story with so many different approaches." Right.

Gilbert & George spread the news

Where Gagosian goes, others follow. The gallery has recently scored a coup exhibiting Damien Hirst's spot paintings at all of its 11 locations across the globe, promising a signed print to anyone who visits every show. Now White Cube is copying the idea, showing Gilbert and George's London Pictures in each of its four galleries. The new work – 292 pictures made from 4,000 newspaper headline posters stolen by the artists over the years – inaugurates White Cube's new Hong Kong outpost today and will open at all three London galleries next week. As yet, there's no promise of a signed Gilbert and George to anyone who ticks off all four – but there's still time.

Climate change

If you book to see After Miss Julie at the Young Vic, don't expect to get a ticket. The show, which opens on 15 March, is the theatre's first "Classic for a New Climate", and as such has been given an eco-friendly makeover. Aiming to halve energy consumption, the crew has taken inspiration from the play's austerity-era setting, sourcing props from local vintage shops and borrowing the staircase from the set of the current production of The Changeling. The cast have pitched in too, getting in half an hour earlier to make the most of daylight hours. And director Natalie Abrahami now cycles to work. "We work in such a wasteful industry," she says. "We make a show and then it's chucked in a skip at the end of a run." The aim is to make it the theatre's first "paperless show" – no flyers, no press releases and no tickets. Scripts, happily, are still permitted.

Rapid-fire gags

It's supposed to be 15 minutes of fame but when your fellow performers include Russell Brand, Sarah Silverman and Coldplay, you might settle for 15 seconds. Piff the Magic Dragon, a Londoner who performs deadpan stand-up and close-up magic in dragon costume, has won a spot to perform at the star-studded Secret Policeman's Ball in New York on Sunday. Piff, born John van der Put, was chosen by a panel including Inbetweeners creator Simon Bird to perform the world's shortest gig, 15 seconds, at the Amnesty International fundraiser at Radio City Music Hall. "Dragons love New York," he says. "Though New Yorkers seem to have a bad opinion of dragons ever since that Godzilla episode in 1998."