MUSICAL / As if lives depend on it: Robert Maycock on a production of Guys and Dolls by prisoners and Pimlico Opera

Following last year's West Side Story is a tall order. When a group of Wandsworth Prison inmates swings round and belts out 'Gee, Officer Krupke - krup you]', it doesn't just sound as if they mean it. Guys and Dolls, the choice of Pimlico Opera for this year's collaboration, is a more ironic, nostalgic sort of show, but it has the asset of blurring the moral boundaries.

Duchess dies

Margaret, the Duchess of Argyll, died aged 80 in a nursing home in Pimlico, south-west London, after a long illness. Her divorce from the Duke in 1963 caused a sensation when his evidence included photographs of her and a naked man.

FILM / England's Dreaming: In the dark, depressed years that followed the end of the war, a small film studio in suburban London helped a nation escape. Robin Buss meets some of Ealing's few

WHEN HE sold Ealing Studios in 1955, Sir Michael Balcon put up a plaque: 'Here during a quarter of a century were made many films projecting Britain and the British character.' The character owed a good deal to Balcon's own - a certain idea of Britain that led to the creation of the best examples of this country's most distinctive contribution to world cinema - something that foreign critics, like Georges Sadoul, could dignify with a generic name: l'ecole humoristique anglaise.

MUSIC / No break with routine: Nick Kimberley reviews Pimlico Opera's La Traviata

WHAT ARE touring opera companies for? Leaving aside the national and regional companies that tour from a fixed base, they serve two main functions: to bring a version - usually somewhat miniaturised - of the opera house experience to locations otherwise starved of opera; and to develop ways of staging that radically differ from that same opera house experience.

OPERA / Unjust desserts: Jan Smaczny discovers that a little Pimlico Opera goes a very long way

NO ONE should underestimate the value of small travelling opera companies. Outside the metropolis, opera is, for many, at best a sporadic experience. The yearly or twice yearly visits of the big national companies have acquired almost the status of religious festivals. In between, the smaller touring companies keep the operatic lights ablaze.

BOOK REVIEW / Paperbacks: The Gonne Yeats Letters 1993-1938, eds Anna MacBride and A Norman Jeffares: Pimlico, pounds 12.50

The record of a half-century's friendship, devotion, perhaps sexual love, between the mesmerically beautiful Maud and the haughty Willie: mostly hers to him, but fascinating nonetheless.

Letter: The aesthetics of leaseholds

Sir: Whether one thinks of Belgravia or Chelsea, Regent's Park or Hampstead Garden Suburb, the major leasehold estates are distinguished by the integrity with which their urban image has been maintained. These oases stand out for their urbane and civilised calm; for the way in which the expression of the individual is balanced in the interest of the harmony of the whole.

Leading Article: Belgravia going freehold

LIKEABLE man though he clearly is, the Duke of Westminster has probably not gained much sympathy by resigning from the Conservative Party, of whose Chester branch he had been president for 16 years. His gesture of disgust was prompted by the Government's plans to change leasehold law in ways that, to his mind, infringe two basic democratic principles: the right of a private citizen to own and enjoy private property, and the right to uphold contracts freely entered into.

Former actor cleared of antiques shop murder

A FORMER television actor was yesterday found not guilty of battering to death Lady Brenda Cross, 73, who worked in his antiques shop.

ARTS / Splendour in the North: Opera of the Year

IT WAS, as they say in company reports, a year of consolidation: neither mirabilis nor - with a few exceptions (Princess Ida, Ubu, Biko) - horribilis. At Covent Garden, standards rose while the deficit deepened. At ENO, the regime settled into the home straight before Messrs Jonas, Pountney and Elder go their various ways in July 1993. Glyndebourne staged a goodbye-to-all-that season which literally brought the house down.

A vandalised crucifix outside St Saviour's Church in Pimlico

(Photograph omitted)

THEATRE / Three Shouts from a Hill - Lilian Baylis, London EC1

This trio of comic playlets from the 1930s makes an odd choice for the O'Casey Theater Company's second production - it can't do much for Sean O'Casey's reputation. The End of the Beginning is a painfully extended piece of slapstick in which two weak-minded Irish bumpkins (Gerard McSorley and Risteard Cooper, mugging fit to burst) wreck a house. Direction and acting are atrocious: both are partly redeemed by the following sketch, about two drunken Irishmen outraging gentility in a Pimlico post office.

BOOK REVIEW / Paperbacks: A Life of Picasso, Vol I, 1881-1906 - John Richardson: Pimlico, pounds 15

Prodigy in Spain, bohemian in Paris: seldom has an artistic biography justified itself so well as this account of Picasso's immensely active early years (we break off just before the Demoiselles d'Avignon). Richardson gives a fine sense of the already formidable personality - the 'Andalusian obsession of mirada fuerte (strong looking)', the eye as a sexual organ - and the intimate connections of work and everyday life, especially with his intelligent use of continuous illustration (pictures in the margin of almost every page).

Obituary: Ross Hamilton

Ross Hamilton, antique dealer, born Melbourne Australia 3 May 1942, died London 5 September 1992.
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