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Postcard from... New York


Vitaly Churkin, the Russian Ambassador at the United Nations, was congratulating himself on Monday night.  After a marathon three-hour session with colleagues in a UN chamber he reckoned he had grasped about 25 per cent of what had been going on.  The topic should have been familiar: a country had come apart at the seams, its rulers brought down by dysfunction, violence and death.

For one night the hall had been converted into a makeshift theatre and Mr Churkin (above) and hundreds of other assorted UN dignitaries had come to watch members of London’s Globe Theatre as they pursue their somewhat madcap ambition of putting on Hamlet in every country in the world to celebrate the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. The performance just for the UN was special enough that the Globe’s artistic director, Dominic Dromgoole, had flown in from London for the occasion.  As he headed home yesterday, his touring band was already on their way to performances just this week in the Bahamas, Cuba and Mexico.

Possibly Mr Dromgoole should resist trying his hand at diplomacy. Asked by a member of the UN press corps whether there was any country in the world that was being especially difficult about accommodating the tour, he was quick to reply: “The only country we have had persistent problems with would be the French”.  He chuckled loudly, but it’s usually considered bad form to publicly needle a permanent Security Council member, even France.