Skellig and Death and the King's Horseman at the National Theatre

Tom Sutcliffe is joined by writer Philip Hoare, novelist Aminatta Forna and documentary film-maker Adam Curtis to discuss the cultural highlights of the week. Featuring an arthritic angel, a knackered Viking and a man who can't quite accept he is a Nazi.

David Almond's Whitbread prize-winning novel for teenagers, Skellig, has been adapted for TV by Sky One, in a version starring Tim Roth, Bill Milner, John Simm and Kelly MacDonald. But when the panel accompanied the story's lonely schoolboy hero into the shed at the bottom of the garden, were they as fascinated as he was by what he found?

The exhibition Madness and Modernity: Mental Illness and the Visual Arts in Vienna 1900 anatomises the links between psychiatry and the fin-de-siecle fine arts, from the impact of grotesque medical photographs on Egon Schiele to the artwork of the insane.

The obsession with degeneration and the prospect of creating perfect humans helps to nudge the anti-hero of the film Good towards a moral black hole. Viggo Mortensen plays an absent-minded literature professor in 1930s Germany who finds himself gradually drawn into the Nazi regime. The movie is based on a 1981 play by the Scottish playwright CP Taylor, but does it have anything new to say?

Death and the King's Horseman is Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka's 1975 dramatisation of a real incident in post-war Nigeria. A tribal leader attempts to commit suicide in order to follow his late master into the afterlife. But a colonial official intervenes, with disastrous results. Rufus Norris directs an all-black cast, who play the white characters in 'white-face'.

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned is the debut of a young American writer called Wells Tower. This collection of short stories traces the lives of unhappy Americans, thwarted by hamburger-like growths, poisoned moose and dogs that cannot urinate. And for good measure he throws in a story about a Viking rampage, narrated in the voice of a weary manager.

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45 minutes

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Sat 11 Apr 2009 19:15