A very English playwright: The return of Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett stages his first play for years this month, at the National Theatre. Paul Taylor, who has met him many times, looks at how the butcher's son from Leeds became Britain's best loved playwright, and tries to unravel his complex personality

Wild Cooking, By Richard Mabey

Thirty-five years after his Food for Free, Mabey has produced an accompanying cookbook. The wait was worth it for such a literate and imaginative work.

Bennett and Gambon to form dream team

Alan Bennett, arguably Britain's greatest living playwright, is to team up with Michael Gambon, one of the best actors of a generation, in the National Theatre's new season.

Internal, Mercure Point Hotel, Edinburgh<br/>East 10th Street, Traverse, Edinburgh<br/>Sea Wall, Traverse, Edinburgh<br/>Susurrus, Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh

Drama doesn't get more intimate (and scary) than an interactive speed-dating show where you are the innocent victim

35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 100 mins, (12A)

This gentle French drama gets under your skin with a heady cocktail of intimacy and family ties

Britten, the boy wonder

Music the composer wrote as a child can now be heard for the first time. It shows a precocious genius, says Lynne Walker

Ron Mallone: Pacifist campaigner who founded the Fellowship Party

Ronald (known to his friends as “Ron”) Mallone, who recently died of leukaemia at the age of 92, was a committed and lifelong pacifist, Christian and socialist, who co-founded a political party and repeatedly contested both parliamentary and local elections between 1959 and 1997.

The Beggar's Opera, Royal Opera House, London

You could experience a momentary double-take walking into the Royal Opera's Linbury Studio Theatre – thinking you've taken a wrong turn into the main house, as a cross-section of the ornate balconies and familiar red curtains of the latter confronts you. John Gay's original The Beggar's Opera was so successful that it laid the foundations for the theatre that is now the Royal Opera House.

Britten The Beggar&rsquo;s Opera, Royal Opera/ Linbury Studio

You could experience a momentary double-take walking into the Royal Opera’s Linbury Studio Theatre and thinking you’ve taken a wrong turn into the main house.

Preview: Albert Herring, Glyndebourne Festival, Glyndebourne

A sterling cast for a vintage production

Punch and Judy, Young Vic, London<br/>Atalanta, Britten Theatre, London<br/>Acis and Galatea, Wilton's Music Hall, London

Mr and Mrs Punch and the Molotov cocktail: Britten was said to hate Birtwistle's violent opera, but, 40 years on, its wit and skill stand out. Just don't look for a moral centre

&#163;51m profit on sale of Boosey & Hawkes is music to HgCapital

The classical music publisher Boosey & Hawkes is the latest addition to the ABP pension fund's programme of direct investment in assets, rather than fare the volatility of the public markets.

BBC SO/Knussen, Barbican, London

Alban Berg was in poor shape, financially and bodily, when he accepted the commission for a violin concerto in 1935, and shattered to learn of the death of Alma Mahler's 18-year-old daughter, Manon, of whom he had been fond.

Punch And Judy, Royal Opera House: Linbury Studio, London

Still murderous after all these years. Harrison Birtwistle and Stephen Pruslin's Punch and Judy is 40 years old. Mr Punch and his unfortunate wife go back much further, of course, but this extraordinary work was perhaps the defining moment when the Theatre of Cruelty set its mark on opera. That moment occurred in Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh, in June 1968, when even our most astute and receptive of music-theatre practitioners, Benjamin Britten, found it just too, too much. It is, of course – but then nightmares are, aren't they?

'Replace trite and trashy statues with trees'

Leading art figures condemn the profusion of public memorials, claiming the majority are sentimental and badly executed
Latest stories from i100
Career Services

Day In a Page

A
Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 1 May 2015
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living