Newsnight Review Friday 8 May 2009
Here's Martha with news of tonight's Newsnight Review:
If Westminster has appeared to be a parallel universe this week, there is more of the same on Review this week. All our items grapple, in one way or another, with the small matter of The Meaning of Life.
As a child, my brothers and I loved to watch Star Trek on TV. Even at a young age, we knew that William Shatner's performance verged on cheesy most of the time, but the programme itself seemed so modern. At the height of the Cold War, there was a Russian character, and a black woman when TV was solidly white. I never got into the movies though, which somehow seemed too serious, too technological. But in JJ Abrams' new film the graphics never get in the way of the human drama, and it is a treat to see those familiar characters in their youth. Mr. Spock is actually quite sexy in a Vulcan kind of way. One of our guests, Natalie Haynes, is a proper Trekkie and she has visited a house in Leicestershire which has been entirely reworked to resemble the Enterprise to tell us why she thinks we should take the Trek franchise seriously.
Mr. Spock's greeting "Live long and prosper" is not exactly the theme of our next item: Beckett's Waiting for Godot, which has reached London after a nationwide tour. Its official press night was on Wednesday with a celebrity audience to match the star studded cast. I spotted Sir Paul MacCartney, Sting, John Major, Dominic West, Vivienne Westwood and Neil Tennant. Sir Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart give the tramps a vaudeville past in Sean Matthias's production which highlights the humour of the tragi-comedy more than many recent productions.
The precarious nature of existence haunts the final poems of John Updike's Endpoint which has been published posthumously. Sometimes writing from hospital bed, he reflects on his final illness in Needle Biopsy:
"days later, the results came casually through
the gland, biopsied, showed metastasis"
But there are warm recollections too of his Pennsylvania childhood and musings about the nature of writing itself.
Colm Toibin is one of my favourite authors so I am delighted that we are discussing his latest novel, Brooklyn. He explained to me in an interview that the style is based on Jane Austen whose work he had been teaching on a literature course. The Irish heroine, Eilis, emigrates to the States in search of work and ends up facing a dilemma between her new country and home. Watch the full interview here.
Do join us at eleven,