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
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Bruges
Lake Como
Burgundy
South AFrica
Paris
Northern Corsica
Prices correct as of 21 November 2014
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible