Go and see The Caretaker at the Old Vic. Timothy Spall stars in a brilliant Matthew Warchus production. But main reason to go is to be reminded what a great writer Harold Pinter was. He can shift in a sentence from out-and-out menace to laugh-out-loud vaudeville. Brilliant.
Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy (published in paperback by Vintage)
One of my favourite books is The Great Gatsby and this is a new retelling of it. I feel protective towards Gatsby so hoped this would be good. It’s not just good but brilliant. The setting in modern London is vivid and authentic. Gorsky is an ultra-wealthy Russian, and no one quite knows where his money came from. The parallels and echoes of Scott Fitzgerald’s story add to the pleasure of reading – I hadn’t quite expected that. Vesna Goldsworthy is also Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia – yes, that original and most famous of writing courses.
Mapplethorpe, a provocative documentary about the American photographer who died of AIDs in 1989, now showing at the Curzon. While on the subject of great documentaries, The Case Against 8, made my 23-year old daughter cry and she never cries. It’s about the fight to overturn California’s ban on same-sex marriage. The case against Proposition 8 made it all the way to the US Supreme Court and this film won the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Directing Award in the US Documentary category.
The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit – What’s your story? Solnit examines how we tell them and how we use them to learn about ourselves and others, a lyrical memoir that shows how the faraway can strike closer than we thought.
‘Another World: Losing our Children to Islamic State’ is extraordinary political theatre – story-telling that’s powerful, revealing, credible. One reviewer criticised it for never really catching fire. That’s missing the point. Its restraint is what gives it edge. Words are by Gillian Slovo. At the National Theatre to May 7.
Poetry and Survivor’s Guide by Mark Yakich (Bloomsbury): it’s easier to catch clouds with a net than it is to write well about poetry. Yakich does not take himself too seriously. It’s the best book on the art of writing and reading poetry I have ever read.
A Month in the Country by J L Carr (Penguin Modern Classics): I wanted something short to read. Set in the aftermath of the First World War this glorious novel of rediscovery is both effortless and profound.
Symphony No.1, Sir Edward Elgar. Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin make a magnificent case for this underrated masterpiece, it is not just an English gem it is a glory of European music.
Our Little Sister, directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu. What an enchanting film. The story of three single, 20-something sisters, all living together, inherit a much younger half-sister they didn’t know they had following the funeral of their father. As three becomes four, more of their back story is slowly revealed, together with that of their parents. Beguiling, tender, non-judgemental, it’s an exquisite jewel of a film. If I weren’t already delighted with my own sisters, I’d want these four.