13/08/2011

Bidisha and her guests comedian David Schneider, novelist Deborah Moggach and theatre writer David Benedict review the week's cultural highlights including Anna Christie.

Anna Christie is Eugene O'Neill's stormy, sea-swept play about a woman returning to the docks and sailors' bars where her sea-lag father drinks himself into oblivion. He's trying to forget his guilt at having sent her away to a farm when she was a little girl. He thought he was sending her to safety, but land turned out to be just as dangerous as the sea. In Rob Ashton's production at the Donmar Warehouse in London, Ruth Wilson plays Anna, for whom redemption seems to come in the form of Jude Law's virile Irishman, Mat Burke. But he knows nothing about her former life - and when he finds out, all hell and hypocrisy break loose.

The Artist of Disappearance is a trio of novellas by the internationally acclaimed writer Anita Desai. These novellas are a sober, carefully written lot, dealing with the past and its mementoes: a young government worker visits a museum full of artefacts from colonial voyages; a translator tries to render some literature in a minority dialect for a wider audience, and a hermit-like man finds his solitude disrupted by a film crew documenting the ravages of climate change.

Project Nim is director James Marsh's documentary about a group of American scientists and researchers who, in the 1970s, decide to try to teach a chimpanzee sign language and bring it up in all respects as a human baby. A 10 day old chimp - Nim Chimpsky, named in satirical honour of the academic Noam Chomsky, who'd scoffed at the project - is taken from his mother and handed over to one of psychology professor Herb Terrace's former students to bring up. The documentary tells the story of Nim's chequered life and of the consequences of the scientists' intervention on their own relationships - and their conscience.

Debbie Tucker Green's play Random debuted to great success at the Royal Court in 2009. Its star was actress Nadine Marshall, who played all the different roles of a black British London family going about their business on a spring morning, until their lives are transformed by a devastating event. Debbie Tucker Green has now adapted the play for Channel 4 and also directs it, while Nadine Marshall returns to narrate and to play one of the characters.

Curtain Call is the latest attempt by the Roundhouse in North London to capitalise on its vast, rotund shape. Designer Ron Arad has put up a giant round curtain made up of 5,600 white silicon rods hanging from the ceiling, with a diameter of 18 metres. You step inside and sit yourself down to watch a 2 hour loop of video pieces by a variety of contributors from fashion designer Hussein Chalayan to students from the Royal College of Art. Is it the perfect meeting of form and function? Or is it like watching a big Imax screen?

Producer: Torquil MacLeod.

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45 minutes

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Sat 13 Aug 2011 19:15