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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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Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
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Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

Rebranding Christmas

More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up
A Greek island - yours for the price of a London flat

A sun-kissed island - yours for the price of a London flat

Cash-strapped Greeks are selling off their slices of paradise
Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

New system means that evergreen songs could top the festive charts
Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence

Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys

He is a musician of wondrous oddity. He is on a perpetual quest to seek the lost tribes of the Welsh diaspora. Just don't ask Gruff Rhys if he's a national treasure...