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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.

Revelations: I was once told I looked like Rudyard Kipling. Now it's pe rsonal

The Time: 1996 The Place: South East London The Man: David Haig, actor (Inspector Grim in `The Thin Blue Line', Harold Nicolson in `Portrait of a Marriage', `Art' at Wyndhams)

Theatre: Don't go into the water

Question: What's the difference between Jaws and An Enemy of the People?

CINEMA; The queen of all she surveys

It has taken Judi Dench a long time to appear in a lead role on film. But Billy Connolly made it worth the wait. Theatre's grande dame talks highland flings with Sarah Gristwood

DANCE Swan Lake Royal Albert Hall, London

The drawbacks of ballet in the round are obvious. Swan Lake mounted on a traditional proscenium stage allows the audience to peer through the fourth wall of a magic box and enter the world of Siegfried and his Odette. At the Albert Hall, where fellow spectators can be glimpsed fidgeting on the far side of every scene, that level of involvement is seldom possible. The compromises dictated by the democratic arena sightlines can mean that, in getting everyone to face the audience, the formal geometry of the ensembles can only really be appreciated by the mushrooms on the ceiling.


Interview by Jonathan Sale

5 days in the life of DENNIS MARKS

MONDAY: Thank you, Radio 3, from all early risers. My wife, Sally, dozes to James Naughtie, but I find a cup of tea and some bracing Dvorak sets me up better. Particularly today, most of which will be spent in the piranha tank, announcing the results of ENO's feasibility study to the press. Some papers have already anticipated that we will opt for a newly built theatre. If we do, it had better be warmer than the Coliseum this morning, where the geriatric boiler has packed up again.

Rambert Dance Company perform The Rooster

DANCE With Louise Levene

EYE SIGHT; Siobhan Davies - the Jean Muir of British dance

Siobhan Davies will have rearranged her crowded mantelpiece once again after winning yet another major award. Not content with two Olivier awards, an MBE and countless Digital Awards, this gong-crazed choreographer has now won the hugely prestigious (and hugely huge) Prudential Award. If anyone deserves pounds 50,000 to spend on furthering her artistic programme it is Siobhan Davies, the Jean Muir of British dance. She is at her peak creatively, and her dancers, who include Amanda Britton, Catherine Quinn, Paul Old and Gill Clarke, are among the best in the country. They are currently on tour with a mixed bill of old and new. Trespass (left), which premiered last May, has a curious fidgeting score by Gerald Barry. Affections, which premiered in Oxford last week, uses six delicious Handel arias including songs from Rinaldo, Alcina and Tamerlano sung live by the Welsh mezzo soprano Buddug Verona James. Although Davies is keen to experiment with different composers, she has stuck with the same lighting and set designers: her husband David Buckland and Peter Mumford. With so many awards to show for it why change a winning team?


Actor/director Mark Rylance talks to JAMES RAMPTON

LEADING ARTICLE : The National's show of secrecy

The great and the good are making themselves comfy in front of the casting couch. The board members of the National Theatre are scratching their brows as they ponder on the choice of the right man or woman to fill the most important role in British theatre. The director of the National Theatre, Richard Eyre, plans to leave sometime next year or the year after. His successor will be appointed by the middle of this year. Despite the importance of the position, the casting process and even the names of the potential players are shrouded in secrecy. If it is our National Theatre, why should we be so in the dark about who might run it?

Has Adrian Noble lost the plot?

All's not well at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Productions are failing, actors are unhappy, talent is leaving. And, to add insult to injury, anything its artistic director can do, the National's can do better. By David Benedict

Obituary: David Healy

David Healy, actor: born New York City 15 May 1929; married 1961 Peggy Walsh (two sons); died London 25 October 1995.

Tufnell star turn

Middlesex 338 Leicestershire 284-4

theatre The Painter of Dishonour, RSC The Other Place, Stratford :REVIEW

Calderon's The Painter of Dishonour was written in 1645, so English theatre can't be accused of over-haste in getting round to considering it. What exactly have we been missing these last three and a half centuries? To judge from the dark zest and full-tilt theatricality of Laurence Boswell's premiere production at the Other Place, this Spanish "honour" play is a compulsively stageable mix of overwrought passion and undercutting comedy, high-minded melodrama and its near-cousin, low farce.


Sir Ian McKellen is our greatest classical actor. But he wouldn't thank you for saying so. As he told David Benedict. Photograph by Herbie Knott
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