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Friday Arts Diary

Our cultural picks for the week ahead.

Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton star as a married couple caught in conflict in Half of a Yellow Sun
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton star as a married couple caught in conflict in Half of a Yellow Sun. Photograph: Slate Films

Film

Half of a Yellow Sun, dir: BiyiBandele, cinemas nationwide, Friday 11th April

The film adaptation of Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2006 novel is released today. The screenplay (adapted by director Biyi Bandele) tells the story of the Nigerian-Biafran War in 1967-1970, from the perspectives of four different people whose lives were torn apart by the conflict. The story is a rare example of an African struggle being presented to a Western audience by African voices, although the legacy of colonialism, from all perspectives, is by no means ignored. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton follow up their respective Oscar and BAFTA successes by taking on starring roles which explore the social, political and ethnic tensions of this often overlooked conflict.

Television

True Detective, Sky Atlantic, 9pm, Saturday 12th April

The first series of another one of the "greatest things to happen to television" finishes tonight (that is if you were patient enough to avoid the HBO Go website a few weeks ago, which crashed due to huge amount of traffic the finale garnered). The final episode is both thrilling and poignant, although some critics have said that it lets down the "meticulous mystery" of the previous seven episodes. Nevertheless, it is sure to still draw in viewers and cement Matthew McConaughey’s status as a heavy-duty actor; his performance as Detective Rust Cohle has been credited with lifting the sometimes laboured dialogue into cinematic profundity. How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days seems long lost indeed.

Performance

Soul Trip: Funk Da Cirque, Camden Roundhouse, Friday 11th-Sunday 13th April

Following on from its hugely successful 2012 debut, CircusFest returns to the Roundhouse this weekend. Soul Trip displays the talents of some of the best young street dancers and acrobats from across London, who have recently taken to the stage at the National Theatre and Camp Bestival 2013. The dancers, all aged 11-25, fuse street dance and ground-based acrobatics to test the limits of human rhythm and flexibility. A combination of boogaloo, house, waakin’ and b-boying with theatre, acrobatics, human pyramids and body percussion is sure to tire out the audience, let alone the performers.

Concert

Gary Barlow, Manchester Phones 4U Arena, Monday 14th April

Gary Barlow is back on the road, promoting his new album, Since I Saw You Last (jokes about seeing the last of Barlow can wait outside the door, thank you). Although his re-launched solo career certainly lacks the ammo of Take That’s stratospheric comeback, Barlow has cultivated a strong and loyal fan base. His status as a national icon, if not quite treasure, was confirmed with his OBE in 2012 for services to music and charity. This latest tour, which will surely feature many of the band’s classic hits, will draw in many middle-aged fans, but his appeal to young and old will see him through many more future tours.

Comedy

Russell Howard: Wonderbox, Royal Albert Hall, Monday 14th-Thursday 17th April

Firmly established as a household name, Russell Howard returns for his first live stand-up tour in three years. Fans of his boyish charm may be surprised to learn that he is in fact now 34, but nonetheless, Howard's energetic and enthused routine makes him the boyish antithesis to the Jack Whitehall’s public school breed of rugger humour. His Wonderbox tour has already been called "juvenile" and "smutty", but combined with searing observations about English parochial life ("Some families in England have to wait two weeks for their wheelie bins to be collected. Their suffering is unimaginable"), Howard has managed to tread carefully the line between middle England and its discreetly base sense of humour.

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