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Writer and philosopher whose work, beginning with ‘The Outsider’, searched for the meaning of man’s existence

West End dream becomes reality for unknown actress

It is the stuff that dreams are made of - the star pulls out of a West End show and the unknown actor is plucked from oblivion to play the leading role.

Dark Knight of the soul-destroying

CINEMA; The evil of innuendo stalks Gotham City as Joel Schumacher delivers the latest, pun-plagued version of 'Batman and Robin'

THE FULL MONTY

Actor RICHARD GRIFFITHS talks with Liese Spencer

Emily Lloyd walks out on West End

The actress Emily Lloyd last night pulled out of Pygmalion - her West End debut. Neither her agent, publicist, nor the play's producers would comment on her sudden departure.

Lawrence of Arabia feud revealed by letter

Lawrence of Arabia's mixed feelings about his role in the Arab Revolt in the First World War have been highlighted by a newly-discovered letter.

Theatre With David Benedict

Hot news: David Hare is to direct Heartbreak House. His bold, rigorous translation of Chekhov's little known Ivanov swept audiences off their feet at the Almeida earlier this year (I know, I saw it twice). And Heartbreak House - a Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes is George Bernard Shaw's most Chekhovian play. So enticing is the combination of Hare and the Almeida and this terrific text, that a dynamite cast has already signed up for the pounds 260 per week wage. After playing Galliano there in Hare's Brecht Translation, Richard Griffiths returns to play Captain Shotover. Malcolm Sinclair will play the idealistic Mazzini Dunn, with Emma Fielding as his daughter Ellie and there's the altogether alluring prospect of a sister act by the illustrious Penelope Wilton and Patrica Hodge as Hesione Hushabye and Lady Utterword.

Are they receiving us? By George, she's got it!

The week on radio

Over-caffeinated and over there

When the going gets cold, the cold seek coffee. Sasha Abramsky warms to the cosy cafes of a chilly Amsterdam

I wrote a letter to my love

Don't used lined paper and don't be pornographic ... Suzi Feay on the art of putting passion on paper

Classical Reviews: LSO Brahms Centenary series Barbican Hall, London

George Bernard Shaw reviled the German Requiem, and Benjamin Britten poured scorn on the piano pieces. Even so, the music of Brahms remains one of the good things of life. True, as the celebrations roll in this the centenary year of his death, some people will no doubt find their pet aversions in his work. At its best, however, Brahms's art is balanced, warm and humane. In any celebration of this composer, his positive qualities are bound to predominate.

Mad about the pianist: a Hollywood obsession with insanity

The Hands of Orlac tells the story of a concert pianist caught in a train crash, who is miraculously unmarked except for his hands, which are mangled beyond repair. "Prepare for amputation," says a doctor grimly. "No! Those hands must be saved!" screams his wife, who summons the top surgeon in the land. Enter soft-spoken Peter Lorre, who secretly replaces them with the transplanted hands of a freshly guillotined knife-thrower. The miracle turns sour when the bewildered virtuoso can no longer play the piano, but finds himself compulsively throwing knives. Preposterous? Sure, but this story has been made into three films: you couldn't wish for neater evidence of Hollywood's strange love affair with the embattled gods of the keyboard.

LETTER : Scholarship without borders Scandal? We aid scholarship

The appropriate word to characterize the acquisition of contemporary literary archives by American research libraries is hardly "scandal" ("The scandal of Britain's lost literary archives", 8 December). If indeed it were a scandal, you're rather late in reporting it. The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center has been acquiring, cataloguing and preserving the literary archives of British writers for over 40 years; George Bernard Shaw, D H Lawrence, Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Paul Scott, Edith Sitwell and Virginia Woolf are a few of nearly 100 modern British writers whose papers are held at the Center.

OPERA Oedipus Rex / Silent Prologue Chatelet, Paris

"I am strongly of the opinion that the channel tunnel should be proceeded with at once." So wrote George Bernard Shaw in 1890 (under his pseudonym Corno di Basseto) upon returning from seeing Saint-Saens's Ascanio in Paris. Over a century later, and having viewed a rather different opera in the form of Stravinksy's Oedipus Rex, I should like to add that I am strongly of the opinion that the high-speed rail link should be proceeded with at once.

THEATRE Mrs Warren's Profession Lyric Hammersmith

You come back from a long absence to discover that, while you've been away, your little daughter has grown up into Margaret Hilda Roberts. A joyless go-getter, she mounts her soapbox and shrilly inveighs against your way of life which, indeed, has owed little to the dictates of strict Methodism but has, at least, provided the earnings that have paid for her education. This nightmare scenario has not been prompted by Clare Short's recent, infectiously happy experience of discovering a Tory-inclined son. Rather, it's what springs to mind watching Neil Bartlett's very interesting revival of Mrs Warren's Profession, the Shaw play in which a 22-year-old Newnham graduate, Vivie Warren, rejects her mother when she learns that her money is made from a syndicate of brothels.

THEATRE: Mrs Warren's Profession by George Bernard Shaw,

Mrs Warren's Profession
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
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Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

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