As the new artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Gregory Doran might be expected to lie low as he settles into his new role. But on the contrary – Doran is full of ideas about how to develop the company, as Robert Gore-Langton finds when he interviews him in this week’s Spectator. As well as a plan ‘to stage every play Shakespeare wrote over the next six years’ – that is between now and 2018 – he has also banned Shakespeare from Stratford’s Swan theatre, deciding instead to put on plays ‘by his contemporaries’. Top actors and top ideas are all part of his plan – which you can read more of in the full interview, here.
How do you know when you’re a real fan of a band? For Marcus Berkmann there’s a simple definition of a music fan: ‘You’re a fan if you buy someone’s new record without even thinking of listening to it first.’ Love and Money is a band of which he is a fan – but why does no one else know about them, he asks in his music column this week. True, the lead singer is no Lady Gaga, but if you heard Love and Money, you’d love them too. It remains to be seen whether their latest album lives up to their previous ones, but for now, Berkmann is revisiting their old album again. Here’s one of their more memorable ‘minor hits’, Halleluiah Man.
Do we really need another film in which the White House gets blown up? As Peter Hoskin reminds us in his film review this week, White House Down is ‘the second film on the theme of terrorists-knock-out-the-White-House-before-being-scuppered-by-one-man-with-lots-of-guns’ this year. But is it any good? Compared to Roland Emmerich’s previous films, such as Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, it’s positively restrained on the ‘blowing things up’ level. ‘This’, says Hoskin, ‘is [Emmerich’s] Hedda Gabler’. All in all though, this film is ‘so predictable’ that it doesn’t even matter if our reviewer spoils the plot. If you do enjoy seeing ‘some stuff blow up and some bad guys capped’, then it’s not a bad choice.
In 1916, in the rubble of Ypres, Captain Fred Roberts discovered a printing press and decided to launch a satirical newspaper ‘right on the front line’. And, almost 100 years later, ‘BBC2 honchos have’, as Clarissa Tan puts it, ‘decided to make a drama-documentary unearthing this overlooked nugget of first world war history’. The Wipers Times – both the name of the paper and the BBC’s creation, which features Michael Palin in ‘his first major acting role in 20 years – is ‘about drollery in the face of death, satire as a weapon of war’. But, overall, ‘it’s a music hall of mortality’. The BBC set themselves a difficult task, but one with which they were successful.Tags: arts, BBC 2, Michael Palin, Popular music, Royal Shakespeare Company, RSC, Shakespeare