The Diary: Nick Clegg; Alexandra Roach; Lucian Freud; Secret Cinema; Graham Linehan


Nick Clegg: a tragedy

What's it like to be Nick Clegg? Impossible to say, really, but a new play based on the tribulations of the Deputy Prime Minister may offer some insights. Coalition, set in 2014, imagines the fractious final six months of the current government and the desperate attempts of the Lib Dem leader, Matt Cooper – Clegg in all but name – to save his party. In one scene, Cooper tries to coax his left-wing Energy Secretary into announcing a huge new nuclear-power programme and is called "Faustus" in return. The satire will be given a series of rehearsed readings at the Leicester Square Theatre next month with Cooper played by Thom Tuck, Best Newcomer nominee at this year's Edinburgh Fringe and one third of the sketch troupe The Penny Dreadfuls. "It's a tragic farce," says Tuck, 29. "Cooper's fatal flaw is that he thinks he's the one in control – scheming behind the Tories' backs and juggling backbenchers – but in reality, he's the one who is being played all along." The playwrights – Tom Salinsky, director of the improv company The Spontaneity Shop and Robert Kahn, a writer who also serves as a Labour councillor in Islington, north London – are currently redrafting the play to include post-veto ructions. By the time it gets to a full production, one imagines they'll have a surfeit of material to work with.

Alexandra the great

It's the time of year to make predictions, so here's the Arts Diary's tip for the top: Alexandra Roach. The Welsh actress, who graduated from Rada last year, plays the young Margaret Thatcher to Meryl Streep's lead in The Iron Lady. And, displaying a Michael Sheen-like talent for playing real people, she's just been announced as the lead in Girls' Night Out, playing Princess Elizabeth in the film about the future queen and Princess Margaret (Dakota Fanning) at the end of the Second World War. At 24, Roach has been acting for years, having started out in the Welsh language soap Pobol y Cwm when she was a teenager. Next year, she'll appear in a brace of British movies: an adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's Private Peaceful, opposite Richard Griffiths and Frances de la Tour and Joe Wright's Anna Karenina, playing the gossipy Countess Nordston who needles Keira Knightley's lead.

Bring me the head of Lucian Freud

It's known that Lucian Freud was painting up until the day he died in July, aged 88. It's less well known that the artist spent his final months sitting for a portrait by his daughter, Jane McAdam Freud. Next month, a large terracotta bust of her father, titled EarthStone Triptych, will go on show at the Freud Museum in north London. Freud drifted out of contact with his daughter (by Katherine Margaret McAdam) when she was eight years old and only reconnected with her 22 years ago. "The last time I saw him was shortly before his death, when I finished the sketches," says McAdam Freud, 58, whose work is in the British Museum and the V&A. "I've now used them to make this large portrait. It helps me to keep him alive." He was an inspiring teacher. "He taught me what it meant to really concentrate. He looked with every inch of his body, his muscles and nerves, his whole being."

Classified cuisine

Without giving too much away – its motto is "tell no one" – Secret Cinema has recruited a tasty new partner. The event, screening a classic film in a mystery location, with live reenactments of seminal scenes and fancy dress, began an epic 40-night run in a stunning east London venue last week. Those adventurous enough to climb to its top floor will find a pop-up, run by the celebrated London restaurant St John. The 50-seater "secret restaurant" has a Russian theme, with Russian-speaking staff serving a three-course set menu for £28.50 in two sittings before the screening at 9pm. St John is also running the street-food stalls, serving dishes inspired by the film – bratwurst, goulash, ox kidney or herring stew and mushroom stroganoff. Top marks to anyone who can guess the movie from those ingredients.

Not-so-golden Graham

He's wowing the West End with his new version of The Ladykillers, but reviews of another Graham Linehan production have been rather less flattering. The creator of Father Ted is also behind those annoying Direct Line adverts, starring Chris Addison. At least Linehan's involvement goes some way to explaining why Addison agreed to sell out in the first place.

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