Arts and Entertainment

Without question, the book that has most influenced my life has been Naked Lunch by William S Burroughs. I was astonished by the outrageous pot-head humour: crazy ideas taken way beyond their normal limits. The book was a savage indictment of American racism and consumerism, it dealt with the corruption, graft and lies of politicians with Swiftian humour. I had never read anything like, then or since.

Arts: Theatre: There's nothing funnier than unhappiness

ENDGAME BARBICAN LONDON

First Night: Double act in a game that is unforgettable

Endgame, the Barbican London

Broadcasting: Only a miniature of Chivas Regal?

You will doubtless remember where you were on the day Pepsi painted Concorde blue; because from that moment on, Pepsi's sales just shot through the roof, and within three days no one ever drank Coca-Cola any more. Well, that was the idea, only it didn't happen quite like that, as Steve Punt reminded us in Stuntz last Thursday (R4). This was a run-through of various publicity shenanigans, and while that "z", although deliberately irritating, was no less irritating for that, the programme was itself drolly presented. As far as I could tell, that is, until mechanical catastrophe at my end prevented me from hearing most of the show. Which goes to show that events are never under your control, however much the PR industry thinks to the contrary.

THE INFORMATION on `Krapp's Last Tape'

What Is It?

Theatre: Hello darkness, my old friend

KRAPP'S LAST TAPE BARBICAN, LONDON

First Night: Hurt back to haunt us all with his best

Krapp's Last tape The Pit The Barbican London

Theatre: Worth waiting for

Beckett Festival Barbican, London

Books: Anxious narrative strand (domestic)

Fortysomething

E is for Estuary as a son of Sam grows up

A Week in Books

Theatre: Her master's voice

Play it again, Sam? Beckett's muse Billie Whitelaw makes a final return to his works. By Dominic Cavendish

THE INFORMATION ON: 'Waiting for Godot'

What Is It?

Theatre: We're on the road to nowhere

WAITING FOR GODOT THE ROYAL EXCHANGE MANCHESTER

festival: bite 99

Last year's inaugural Barbican International Theatre Event (Bite) garnered a clutch of Olivier-award nominations and this year's line-up of dance, drama and music theatre could spell the same success. The season gets off to a flying start with Streb, the gravity-defying New York dance company, which heads an impressive dance programme, including the Martha Graham and Twyla Tharp (right) Dance Companies. In the drama section, Dublin's Gate Theatre present a feast of Samuel Beckett featuring the playwright's entire theatre works, while a collaboration with the London International Festival of Theatre (Lift) presents French drama and German music theatre. In all, Bite offers work from eight countries, including 10 UK and London premieres, more than enough to get your teeth into.

The Critics: the Theatre - Blanchett loses the peace

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