Arts and Entertainment Pen pals: Vanessa Redgrave and Olivia Colman in 'The Thirteenth Tale'

Lots of good stories start like this: an overcast sky, a lone woman pulling up the gravel driveway of a large house and a frowning housekeeper waiting on the doorstep to meet her. This feature-length adaptation Diane Setterfield's novel The Thirteenth Tale (BBC2) had all the makings of an atmospheric gothic horror, and it didn't disappoint.

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THEATRE / Star-studded cast, shame about the show

'TRULY, I live in dark times]' reads Vanessa Redgrave in a low, cracked voice from an old book in which the page has been marked with a large daisy. The simplicity of her recital and this foible of the flower are unexpectedly moving, revealing both honesty and affectation. Later, Redgrave dons tap-shoes and dances - appallingly - to the songs of Brecht and Weill with a look of the purest, most defiant happiness on her face. Brecht in Hollywood is a deeply eccentric enterprise.

THEATRE / Meltdown in Battersea

APART from its imperfect sightlines and death-trap foyer, I have nothing against Battersea's Bridge Lane Theatre. But what an address for a high- powered international venture] Launched by Corin and Vanessa Redgrave, with a company including John McEnery and Jennifer Hilary, and with future participation from two stars of the former Yugoslavia and the Berliner Ensemble's Ekkehard Schall, Moving Theatre arrives in a side-street fringe house 20 minutes' walk from the nearest railway station. So much for the age of sponsorship. At least the company can be sure of serious interest from the audiences they do attract.

A Critical Guide: Two months that might shake the world

'NONE of us dares to think about what the future will hold,' says Corin Redgrave (above), whose new company, Moving Theatre, is in residence at south London's Bridge Lane Theatre for two months. Set up with his sister Vanessa, the company is chock-full of international heavyweight talent: Ekkehard Schall was a founder member of Brecht's Berliner Ensemble, while Rade Serbedzija was, says Redgrave, 'the most popular actor in former Yugoslavia. And now he can't perform anywhere in his native language.' But the company hasn't been formed only to give a platform to great European actors: the Redgraves also want to bring affordable, stimulating theatre to a part of London that isn't over-endowed with thespian endeavours. At pounds 10 a ticket, and with a programme that's distinctly radical in tone (The Flag, by Alex Ferguson, features a socialist vicar raising the Red Flag over his church during the General Strike), it's unclear how many local people will be tempted. But Vanessa Redgrave's presence on stage in Brecht in Hollywood should guarantee audiences. As for the future that they daren't think about - well, it all depends on the good will of sponsors and the Arts Council. (The Flag, Tues to 2 Apr; Brecht in Hollywood, 5 to 30 Apr; at the Bridge Lane Theatre, SW11, 071-228 8828.)

The List: Birthdays

Vanessa Redgrave, actress, 57; Boris Spassky, Russian chess champion, 56.

Star wars break out over seats to Sarajevo

A GROUP of actors and film-makers, including Oscar winners Daniel Day-Lewis, Jeremy Irons and Vanessa Redgrave, were yesterday barred from a United Nations relief flight to Sarajevo.

MUSIC / A new king crowned at the court of Karajan

AT pounds 188 for a stalls seat in the Grosses Festspielhaus, the classless society has yet to come to the Salzburg Summer Festival. It's still the most outrageously expensive cultural affair in Europe; and although its new director, Gerard Mortier, wants a younger, less Chanel-soaked audience and younger artists who don't necessarily belong to Deutsche Grammophon - the record company that has king-made here since the days of Karajan - there isn't, so far, much to show for his intentions.

THEATRE / History lessons: Jeffrey Wainwright on Mikhail Shatrov's Maybe

Banned for many years, Mikhail Shatrov's plays became the focus of feverish debate during the perestroika years of the late 1980s. They form part of 'the struggle for history' - attempts to challenge the Party's account of its own and the country's past and analyse it anew.

Law Update: Saintly revival

ROBERT BOLT'S A Man for All Seasons is being performed in Lincoln's Inn next week. The production, by the Bar Theatrical Society, will be staged in the Old Hall - where Sir Thomas More, the play's subject, would have eaten as a member of the inn. More, the publicity literature points out, was the last Lord Chancellor to be executed, and probably the only member of an inn of court to become a saint.

Oscar panel gives the Game away

THE TANTALISING secret at the heart of the highly successful British film The Crying Game was blown wide open yesterday, ending months of self-imposed censorship by most of the world's film critics.

Mikhail Gorbachev welcomes Vaness Redgrave

Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet president, welcomes the actress Vanessa Redgrave to a meeting of his political affairs forum in Moscow yesterday Photograph: Gennady Galperin/Reuter
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