Kathryn Hughes – historian Michael Simkins – actor and writer Francis Spufford - writer
Charlie Bartlett Charlie Bartlett, a wealthy, intelligent 17-year-old, has been kicked out of every private school in town and is left with no choice but to enroll in the local public high school, headed by the reluctant Principal Gardner (Robert Downey Junior). Initially struggling to find a place in the new school, Charlie eventually gains popularity running a psychiatric drop-in centre from the school toilets and dispensing prescription drugs to his classmates. But although his therapy proves helpful to his school friends it does not help him heal himself and solve the problem of his feelings about his father.
Charlie Bartlett is in cinemas now, certificate 15.
The Good Soul of Szechuan Jane Horrocks stars in the dual role of Shen Te and Shui Ta in Brecht’s parable about a compassionate prostitute who is tested by three gods who wants to discover whether there is any good left in humanity. The kinder Shen Te is, the more people take advantage of her. Brecht’s play was completed in 1943 while the dramatist lived in political exile in America and it explores the idea of goodness and whether it is possible for a good person to stay good in a world of poverty and cruelty.
The Good Soul of Szechuan is at The Young Vic theatre in London until May28.
Glister This novel by the Scottish poet John Burnside is set on a peninsula where a huge redundant chemical plant overshadows the local coastal town, a bleak post-industrial community where the cancer rates are above average. ‘Innertown’ is also a place where young men have been going missing, although the authorities maintain they’ve merely gone off to seek their fortunes. Leonard, the fifteen year-old central character, is determined to unravel the mystery of the missing boys.
Glister by John Burnside is published by Jonathan Cape.
The Brighton Festival
So Close to Home The Brighton Festival is England’s biggest arts festival and includes theatre, dance, music, books, debate, and family and outdoor events. It involves special one-off commissions and several site specific performances in order to make the most of the City’s atmosphere - the play So Close to Home by Mark Wheatley is performed in the kitchen of a disused restaurant in Brighton. Robert, played by Garry Cooper, is a chef who is trying to set up his own restaurant, but unlike his friend and mentor Yan, he is not a celebrity – he’s more like one of the misfits, loners and refugees who work for him. It’s his dream and so far it’s working well, but for how long? His son, who lives with his mother, has decided to go and work for Yan in a rival restaurant and then his father turns up after twenty-five years away.
So Close to Home is at Number 10 Circus Parade, Brighton until May 25.
Russia – A Journey Jonathan Dimbleby embarks on a 10,000-mile journey across Russia from Murmansk in the north-west to Vladivostok in the south-west in this five-part series for BBC2. It was filmed when Dimbleby was in a downward spiral of depression following events in his private life. In a book accompanying the series he expands on the circumstances of his private turmoil, and the journey he takes becomes both a physical and a psychological one.
Part 2 of Jonathan Dimbleby’s series Russia – A Journey is on BBC2 on Sunday May 17 at 10.00pm.
Russia: A Journey to the Heart of a Land and Its People is published by BBC Books.
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