Arts and Entertainment
 

No shortage of thought and effort has gone into making this updated working of the Arthurian legend more than just a hot afternoon or evening at the theatre.

The Greek Passion, Royal Opera House, London

Heaven and earth show

Murderous desire to dance the salsa

Nichola McAuliffe is thrilled to be putting on the razzle-dazzle in a dramatic blend of salsa and song

Theatre: How to reduce grown men to tears

Kathryn Hunter has played King Lear. So the 11-year-old lead in Spoonface Steinberg should be a piece of cake. By Dominic Cavendish

You Ask The Questions: (Such as: Ned Sherrin, legendary raconteur, are any of your anecdotes actually true?)

NED SHERRIN, 68, was born in Low Ham, Somerset. He trained as a lawyer at Oxford University, where he became involved with the theatre. He began his career producing for ATV in Birmingham and has since worked in film production and has acted for TV and the stage. He received an Olivier Award for directing The Ratepayer's Iolanthe. He presents Loose Ends on Saturdays on Radio 4 and is director of the musical comedy A Saint She Ain't, opening on 22 September at the Apollo Theatre, London.

Critics' choice: Goodness gracious me - they're on the road

Before Goodness Gracious Me was a huge hit on Radio 4 and BBC2, Asian comedy was widely perceived as a contradiction in terms. "People used to think Asians weren't funny," sighs Anil Gupta, the producer of the acclaimed Asian sketch show and director of the spin-off stage production which makes its debut this week. "They'd say, 'black people can be funny - look at Lenny Henry - but where are the Asian comedians?' I remember sitting in one meeting at the BBC and someone said, 'we never see Chinese comedians - maybe they're not funny'. I thought, 'what? You've just written off a nation of a billion people'." Of course, Goodness Gracious Me - performed by Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhasker, Kulvinder Ghir and Nina Wadia (above) - has helped explode these stereotypes. It successfully mocks both white British (with such memorable sketches as the drunken Indian yobs "going for an English" after a booze-up and insulting the waiters) and the Asians (in characters such as the Kapoors, the wannabe middle-class family who are determined to be more English than the English and demand that their name by pronounced "Cooper"). These kind of figures should flourish in the live arena. But why has it taken so long for this rich vein of humour to be tapped? "My pet theory is that it's the second generation coming of age," says Gupta. "Our parents' generation came over in the 1960s, and the immigrant mentality was to keep their heads down and work hard. The second generation are luckier; we are integrated, we have been born here. Our generation feel more confident of our identity. I don't have a problem with my duality, and I don't want to be an accountant. Writing jokes wasn't an option before - although now all we do is write jokes about accountants, so perhaps we haven't escaped yet." (Goodness Gracious Me UK Tour: Leicester De Montfort Hall (0116 233 3111), Fri and Sat; York Barbican (01904 656688), Sun 21 Feb; and touring to 19 Mar. Information hotline: 0891 455 484.) JAMES RAMPTON

theatre: the street of crocodiles

One of the many remarkable visual strokes in theatre de complicite's The Street of Crocodiles (right) involves a man walking down a wall, a stunt which gives the audience the weird impression that they have an overhead view of the man walking along a pavement. This bifocal image neatly encapsulates the critical response to the show, which interweaves the life and surreal work of the Polish-Jewish writer, Bruno Schulz. Most loved the fluid, dream-like presentation (it got four Olivier Award nominations), but some wondered whether there was anything more to it than met than eye. That was in 1992 - since then it has been extensively toured and reworked, making its return a source of teeth-gnashing anticipation.

Cast gathers to buy Old Vic

SOME OF the leading lights in British theatre are joining together to try to buy The Old Vic theatre for the nation.

Choice: Opera - Xerxes

Xerxes, The Coliseum, London WC2 (0171-632 8300) 7pm

Review: The good, bad and ugly

Dance: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Theatre: Good, better or best?

When is a play a play, and is a comedy a play or not? Is a new play the same as a lost or unperformed one? What's the difference between best opera and outstanding achievement in opera? It appears that the organisers of the prestigious Olivier awards are not so sure...

Chicago in for Olivier awards

The two stars of the hit musical Chicago are competing for a best actress prize in the Laurence Olivier Awards. In the nominations announced yesterday Chicago received seven nominations. And its leading ladies Ruthie Henshall and Ute Lemper are both vying for best actress in a musical.

Theatre: Going liberal on the drama

Well-meaning plays with wishy-washy dramatic credentials can leave actors with little to get their teeth into

Dench wins award for a lifetime's work

Dame Judi Dench added yet another award to her collection yesterday. The actress who was licensed to call James Bond "a sexist, misogynist dinosaur and a relic of the Cold War" when she played his boss in Goldeneye, was honoured for her lifetime's work at the Women in Film and Television Awards.
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?