Letching at the theatre

Rothko vs. Warhol

Hadrian? Sorry mate, you’re only the warm-up act; the real contenders for this year’s "must-see" exhibition are Mark Rothko and Andy Warhol. First up is the Rothko exhibition at Tate Modern. The gallery, which already has a Rothko room, is hosting the first significant exhibition of the artist’s work for two decades. Warhol, being celebrated at the Hayward, is a little more familiar. The Tate held a major retrospective of his work six years ago and last summer Edinburgh’s Royal Scottish Academy held their own show. Though arguably the best-known American artists of the 20th century, the two weren’t friends; Rothko viewed the pop artists as "charlatans and young opportunists"". Despite their fame and influence, the work of both artists has been reduced to lazy and inaccurate stereotypes, one the purveyor of enormous splashes of colour, the other obsessed with cans of soup. Hopefully these exhibitions will illuminate the extent of their talents and output.

Nothing like a Dane

This week the feverishly-anticipated RSC production of Hamlet opened, with David Tennant playing the lead. The critics have lain prostrate in their gratitude and praise. “This is a Hamlet of quicksilver intelligence, mimetic vigour and wild humour” wrote Michael Billington while Paul Taylor admired the “thrillingly risky display of barbed levity and flippant sarcasm”. Quentin Letts, writing for the Daily Mail was more restrained. “The awkward truth, however, is that for all the stage door excitement and box office success, this is not the greatest Dane.” Still, he’s got more out of Letts than his Doctor Who sidekick Billie Piper did. Reviewing her turn in Treats last year, Quentin Letch, sorry Letts, observed that she “turned up… she remembered her lines, moved fluently, took off her shirt at one point and looked jolly pretty”.

All eyes on Bush

Having tackled JFK and Nixon, Oliver Stone is about to release a biopic of George Bush. Simply entitled W, film fans are busy trying to decipher the tone of the film from the new teaser trailer. What is known is that Josh Brolin plays "W" and the film examines his earlier, wilder days. One scene shows George Bush Senior (James Cromwell, last seen as Prince Philip in The Queen) scolding his son for his behaviour: “Who do you think you are? A Kennedy?”. Meanwhile Curtis Sittenfeld takes on Laura Bush, or at least someone remarkably like her, in her forthcoming novel American Wife. All the details match (librarian, responsible for killing a classmate while driving, marrying the prodigal son of an influential Republican family), along with saucier details that have kept the blogosphere buzzing.