Arts and Entertainment Jamie Lloyd has become the youngest director to break into The Stage 100 power list since Sam Mendes

Jamie Lloyd has become the youngest director to break into The Stage 100 power list since Sam Mendes.

A school that fell from greatness

Its original building burnt down, but deeper changes than that account for the decline of Hackney Downs. Fran Abrams and Judith Judd report

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A high-powered government "hit squad'', the first of its kind, is to be drafted in to run Hackney Downs School, a troubled boys' comprehensive in east London.

Theatre: OLD TIMES Wyndham's, London

The back of my copy of Old Times quotes Harold Pinter's famously unhelpful answer to the question: what is he writing about? "I can sum up none of my plays. I can describe none of them, except to say: that is what happened. This is what they said. That is what they did."

LEADING ARTICLE: An angry watershed in British culture

Noel Coward said of himself that he had "a talent to amuse". John Osborne, who died on Christmas Eve, had a talent to attack. He elevated vituperation into an art form. Latterly, his vitriol poured out in journalism and autobiography. But, as a p laywright, no one could ever take away his star part in the year of the greatest upheaval in recent British history: 1956.

THEATRE / Missing, presumed promiscuous

IN THE DAYS before it became an official issue, stage homosexuality was a reliable source of comedy. There was plenty to object to in its limp-wristed stereotypes, but even they had a wit and lightness of touch seldom to be found elsewhere. Homosexuality was a forcing-house of irony; the traditional weapon of the weak against the strong. Then came the Gay Pride movement, followed by Aids, and homosexual drama went serious: rather like Yiddish comedy evaporating in the deserts of Israel.

Highly literary and deeply vulgar: If James Kelman's Booker novel is rude, it is in good company, argues Robert Winder

JAMES KELMAN's victory in the Booker Prize on Tuesday night has already provoked a not altogether polite discussion

Browned off: teased Taki, peeved Perry, harangued Harry

FOR A number of years there have been two excellent columns in the Spectator, side by side. One is Jeffrey Bernard's 'Low Life', which formed the basis for the Keith Waterhouse play Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell, and the other is Taki's 'High Life' column, which nobody has ever turned into a play.

THEATRE / The memory game: James Conway on Karel Reisz's staging of Moonlight and Pinter's own production of Landscape at the Gate, Dublin

Twenty-five years separate Landscape and Moonlight, the final two offerings of the Gate's Pinter Festival, which also included Betrayal, The Dumb Waiter, Old Times and One for the Road. But it's a fortuitous pairing at the end of an intelligent (and risky, given the lean audiences in Dublin this season) initiative, with virtuoso playing in both pieces by Ian Holm and Penelope Wilton.

THEATRE / Notices

After serving a 28-year sentence as a bingo hall, Frank Matcham's Empire Theatre in Edinburgh is about to resurface, phoenix-like, as the Edinburgh Festival Theatre. The exuberant range of its opening season is due to the general manager, Paul Iles. His recognition of the diversity of his potential audiences paid off handsomely at the Blackpool Grand, which underwent a renaissance during his time there.

Media / Talk of the Trade: On your Marx

RED PEPPER, a new left-of-centre political and cultural monthly magazine, launches on 19 May in an attempt to find a market in the gap left by the demise of Marxism Today. Denise Searle, the editor, who edited the Socialist paper until it was crushed by debt in September 1992, says that experience taught her the need to run a businesslike publication.

REVIEW / Bringing in Bond to fight the blooming soap

I seem to remember a Spitting Image sketch in which a rubbery version of Sir John Gielgud intoned poetry while someone poked at him from the wings with a broomstick. It was a running joke - on would come the wobbly Sir John, voice tremulous with diction, and then an unseen hand would attempt to stem the flow or to hook him offscreen. The sketch didn't appear in Omnibus's mostly reverential trot through Gielgud's nine decades in the theatre, though they did acknowledge in a more formal way that his style had gone out of fashion at one point. More interestingly, Gielgud himself recognised the dangerous perishability of any acting style, listening to an early recording of himself and observing, with nice diplomacy, that 'it sounds to me very voice- conscious'.

THEATRE / Putting in a disappearance: Paul Taylor reviews Sam Mendes's production of The Birthday Party at the Lyttelton

The last time I saw Dora Bryan on stage, she was doing the splits in 70, Girls, 70, a musical about feisty oldsters in which the character made a 'posthumous' appearance at the end, crooning along while swinging on a sickle moon. The legs whose spunky agelessness was such a feature of that show now turn up warped and swathed in wrinkly woollen stockings in Sam Mendes's compelling revival of Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party, a play which also, though in a very different way, requires her to grow old disgracefully.

The Art of Theatre: 19 Pauses: NICHOLAS WRIGHT'S MASTERCLASS

ORSINO: . . . Make no compare

The Daily Poem: Time and Again

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