Stars take on 24 Hour Plays gala challenge

Some of the biggest names in theatre descended on London’s Old Vic over the weekend to write and perform six plays from scratch as part of the theatre’s seventh “24 Hour Plays” celebrity gala.

Diary: Never met – done a duet

Dizzee Rascal, named Ultimate Man of the Year at this week's Cosmopolitan Ultimate Women of the Year Awards, has teamed up with Cheryl Cole (named Woman of the Year at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards, which were in June, in case there's any confusion) for her remarkably non-awful track "Everybody, Everyone" from new album Messy Little Teardrops. But the two, he tells me, never shared a studio. "It was like it never happened," Mr Rascal admitted at the Cosmo event. "I never saw her. They sent me three tracks and I basically picked the one I thought would be best. It saves money on planes: imagine going halfway across the world in first class then deciding that you don't like the person. If they just send you a track, you can get it done in your own studio, in your comfort zone.

Graham Crowden: Character actor whose work ranged from 'King Lear' to the sitcom 'Waiting for God'

Initially, Graham Crowden's idiosyncratic characterisations made him an actor ahead of his time, but as performing styles changed and strictures relaxed, the times came round to his way of thinking.

Exit, pursued by a camera: Backstage portraits offer a unique glimpse of stars relaxing at the Old Vic

Aformer stage hand at London's Old Vic theatre, Matt Humphrey, took advantage of his position backstage and asked the actors if he could photograph them in their dressing rooms and behind the scenes. His atmospheric shots of life backstage include a ghoulish-looking Rebecca Hall, as Hermione in The Winter's Tale, standing in the theatre's corridor, while Jessica Hynes holds her leg in a yoga pose in her dressing room before a performance of The Norman Conquests.

Diary: Johnny expands his mind

In what may come as something of a surprise to those familiar with Johnny Borrell's interview history, the not-universally-beloved Razorlight frontman has some useful advice – particularly for potential undergraduates put off by the rising cost of higher education.

The Misanthrope, Old Vic, Bristol

Molière's grumpy truth-teller Alceste has been stomping the stage, pouring verbose scorn on sycophancy and mendacity, for over 340 years, but humanity has yet to produce a generation of a calibre he'd admire – nor one unable to spot the flaws in his loud protestations of frankness.

Design for Living, Old Vic, London

Three's company, two's a crowd in this 1933 Noël Coward comedy about an arty trio who wind up in a ménage à trois.

Scorched, Old Vic Tunnels, London

Like siblings of Oedipus, the Lebanese twins Janine and Simon – she's a maths teacher, he's a boxer – set out to discover the truth of their own origins, and the story of their dead mother, Nawal, in the aftermath of civil war and a criminal trial.

Theatre's love affair with ménages à trois

As Noël Coward’s Design for Living returns to the stage in a landmark production, Paul Taylor explores the simmering tensions of the ménage à trois and its irresistible allure for dramatists

The royal rogue that Spacey was 'born to play'

He is Shakespeare's gloriously Machiavellian monarch-in-waiting, who machinates and murders his way to the throne during the 15th-century Wars of the Roses.

Villagers, Old Vic Tunnels, London

It’s to the Mercury Music Prize’s credit that it brings attention to artists such as Villagers, whose album Becoming A Jackal might otherwise have slipped under the radar in a burgeoning folk-rock scene.

Pygmalion, Chichester Festival Theatre

The potency of Pygmalion resides in its conflation of so many theatrical myths: the king who falls in love with the statue he carves; Svengali creating his ideal actress; Cinderella transformed from kitchen girl to belle of the ball.

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