The Diary: Mike Daisey; Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark; Francis Ford Coppola; Liam Thomas; Chortle Awards


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The Independent Culture

Oopsy Daisey

High Tide scored a coup when they announced that The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs would have its European premiere at the theatre festival in May. The monologue by Mike Daisey, examining his obsession with Apple gadgets and lifting the lid on shocking conditions at the company's factories in China has seen him held up as theatre's answer to Michael Moore. This American Life even dedicated an episode to the play but this weekend a news article questioning the veracity of Daisey's story led to the radio show airing a retraction, in which they listed Daisey's embellishments and fabrications, bringing a storm of criticism down on the playwright.

The High Tide performances will still go ahead as planned, with some tweaks, says Steven Atkinson, artistic director. "Mike Daisey has chosen of his own accord to remove any content that he cannot verify. The monologue will make reference to the recent controversies." Did they consider retracting the invitation? "When the story broke, it was trending on Twitter worldwide. The reaction was vitriolic. People felt they'd been lied to," says Atkinson. "I don't believe that he set out to purposefully mislead the public to his own ends. He had a political point and was outraged by the conditions in China where people are paid so little to make objects for which we pay so much."

Atkinson is now planning a festival debate which will examine the boundaries of theatre and journalism. "We need to discuss how truth is positioned on stage from now on. Unfortunately, Mike has become a cautionary tale. He might not have a career after this."


Gasp as acrobats tumble through the air! Swoon at the $75m budget! Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, possibly the most ill-fated Broadway musical of all time, could be swinging its way across the ocean. The show, which finally opened last year after a record-breaking preview run has faced cast drop-outs, injured actors, a sacked (now litigious) director and a slew of bad reviews. Things, though, are looking up. In the first week of 2012 it took over $2.9m, the highest week gross in Broadway's history. For its European tour producers are thinking bigger than the "Victorian playhouses of the West End", reports the New York Post. Instead they are looking at "gigantic, 10,000-seater arenas" to accommodate the hi-tech extravaganza, and also, no doubt, to recoup that $75m in the fastest possible time.

A luxury hotel you can't refuse

Francis Ford Coppola has returned to his Godfather roots and opened a hotel in the tiny town of Bernalda in South Italy. The director has restored the 1892 Palazzo Margherita where his grandfather was born and where his daughter Sofia got married in August. Features include nine suites, a pool in the walled garden and a cinema showing films from Coppola's collection of Italian classics. It is the sixth hotel in the director's portfolio, which also includes a winery and a pasta sauce business. Rumours that the Palazzo offers a complimentary horse's head in its beds are unconfirmed.

Character cop

Liam Thomas had a head start when it came to getting into character as a KGB officer in Purge at the Arcola. Before he became an actor, he spent a decade working as an undercover police officer for the Met, pretending to be other people on countless operations. When his police career ended in 2002, he revisited his teenage dream of acting and found work as an extra on Joe Wright's Pride and Prejudice. Since then he has appeared in Macbeth at the Globe, worked with Punchdrunk and starred in The Damned United. Purge is his first time playing a cop. "Being undercover is not dissimilar to being a character actor. However you were deployed you'd have to research your back story," he says. "In both jobs you're better if you have a wider range." Thomas, 49, is now writing a play inspired by his former life. "It's about an interrogation that is not quite as it seems," he says.

Shortlists fall short

Here's an interesting statistic from the Chortle Awards. The organisers of the comedy bash, at London's Café de Paris this week, managed to find more female presenters than it did female nominees. While Jenny Eclair and Sadie Frost were among six women opening the envelopes, there were only two females on a shortlist of 54 – Dana Alexander and Susan Calman. Alexander lost out but Calman won Best Compere and made the most of her moment. "Now is not the time to talk about the shameful lack of women on the shortlists," she said from the podium. "But I will be at the bar for the next six hours talking about it."