Voices

The top 20 of The Stage newspaper’s recently published “power list” of the 100 most influential people in British theatre made for fascinating reading. Most of the usual suspects were there, but many of them found themselves paired with another name for their entry. For it’s not only the artistic directors, the Nick Hytners and Gregory Dorans, who are celebrated but their all-important executive directors, the men and women who oversee every aspect of an organisation except what goes on its stages. Without executive directors, no contracts would be written, no money raised and no ambitious building projects undertaken.

Album: Marina and the Diamonds, Electra Heart (679/Atlantic)

From opening track, “Bubblegum Bitch”, onwards, Marina and the Diamonds' second album promotes the more mean-spirited and synthetic aspects of childhood aspiration.

Jakob Lenz, ENO/Hampstead Theatre, London

The poet Jakob Lenz (1751-1792) flashed like a shooting-star through the literary firmament, notable less for his output that for his bewitching personal charisma.

David Suchet and Laurie Metcalf are compelling as James and Mary Tyrone

Long Day's Journey into Night, Apollo, London
Uncle Vanya, Festival Theatre, Chichester
Chalet Lines, Bush Theatre, London

Eugene O'Neill's tragedy about a blighted and bitter clan embroiled in internecine conflict is given a masterly treatment

Going Dark, Young Vic, London 

It was Milan Kundera, I think, who said that an author should, as a point of firm principle, avoid giving a character a job or a profession that is too convenient to the thematic or symbolic intent of the work of art.

Joe Penhall's new play, Birthday, will open at the Royal Court a record-breaking six months after his last new play, Haunted Child, opened at the theatre

Cultural Life: Sidse Babett Knudsen, actress

Television: Before I started on 'Borgen', people introduced me to some great American box-sets to convince me that TV could be good. I now watch them all the time. Amy Poehler is very funny in 'Parks and Recreation' and 'In Treatment', with Gabriel Byrne, is also really good. How can one room with just two characters be so captivating? For more laughs I watch 'Modern Family'. Rico Rodriguez is very funny as the son, Manny Delgado.

Idris Elba established himself in the US first, playing the role of Stringer Bell in 'The Wire'

Black British actors told to head for Hollywood if they want big roles

Black British actors should head to Hollywood as quickly as they can because they won't find leading roles in the UK, David Harewood, the acclaimed National Theatre performer, has advised.

France's most prestigious theatre company, the Comédie Française

After 320 years, Paris theatre's stage hands demand égalité

A pay deal signed during the reign of Louis XIV has led to indefinite strike at famed Comédie Française

DVD: The Scarlet Blade (PG)

This 1964 Hammer production is blessed with two hammy performances from Lionel Jeffries, as the sadistic Colonel Judd, and Oliver Reed, as the dissembling Captain Sylvester.

Cabbie's snooker story is right on cue

On an unremarkable night in 2004, Middlesbrough taxi driver Ishy Din was listening to Radio 5 Live in his cab, when the station announced a competition to find short stories with a sporting theme. Having just bought his first computer, Din thought he'd give it a go and sent something in. To his amazement, that story, his first attempt at creative writing since his school days, was produced and aired.

The Art of Concealment, Jermyn Street Theatre, London 

Jermyn Street Theatre, which has just deservedly won The Stage's  Fringe Theatre of the Year Award, kicked off 2011 with Less Than Kind, a fascinating, hitherto unperformed draft of an early play by Terence Rattigan.

Album: Hyperpotamus, Delta (El Molino Music)

Hyperpotamus is Spanish musician Jorge Ramírez-Escudero, who brings a new rigour to the notion of solo performance: all the pieces on Delta are structured from his own looped and layered vocal tracks, painstakingly built into exotic sonic edifices without using any actual instruments.

Downton delivers the one present its devotees wanted

Christmas TV review

Arts review of 2011 - Theatre: Words failed us. But never mind the writers, let's hear it for the players

In a thin year for new scripts, some outstanding performances caught the eye – and, 400 years on, the King James Bible scored

Mysteries of Lisbon (PG)

Starring: Adriano Luz, José Afonso Pimentel
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Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

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The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

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