Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell in Seven Psychopaths
Theatre In the Republic of Happiness Royal Court, 6th December to 19th January Martin Crimp is a lurking playwright. His characters lurk in the margins of misery. And his reputation lurks in the wings of expectancy, even after all these years. A play such as Attempts on Her Life(1997), which challenged conventions of theatrical form and narrative, has become a modern classic in Europe and a touchstone text in contemporary theatre studies.
Crimp’s latest is a dystopian triptych for Christmas with an unseasonal twist. In the first part, a family gathering is interrupted by a sudden arrival; in the second, there’s a reality TV take on our runaway confessional culture; and then, in the third, the characters’ identities become fluid and things get very strange.
Crimp is an expert in the insecurities of modern speech, with his own special line in taut atmospheres and ensemble patterns. He’s a genuine experimentalist, sometimes infuriatingly obtuse, but always fascinating. He should be well served, not only by director Dominic Cooke and mesmeric designer Miriam Buether, but also by a top cast including the emerging star of our subsidised stage, Michelle Terry. Michael Coveney
Classical Philip Glass at 75 Barbican, 14th to 15th December
America’s legendary minimalist composer turned 75 this year, and the Barbican is marking the occasion with a mini(malist) festival, giving us a rare opportunity to look back over four decades of experimental music- making. The venue already brought us Glass and Wilson’s opera-meditation Einstein on the Beach back in May, and now it’s the turn of the composer’s music for film and small ensemble.
On 14th December, Godfrey Reggio’s cult classic Koyaanisqatsi—a cinematic “tone poem” whose visual music is the landscape of contemporary America—will be screened to the live accompaniment of Glass’s score. Ascetic restraint collides with the sensuous textures of voices and both natural and synthesised instruments to create an immersive sonic wonderland.
On the Saturday, 15th December, the Philip Glass Ensemble—the best specialist exponents of the composer’s work—will take the lead in a concert that assembles a collage of Glass’s music. The phasing, echoing patterns of Music in 12 Parts, will sit alongside the popular Glassworks, excerpts from chamber opera The Photographer and Glass’s soundtrack to 1998 film The Truman Show. It’s a programme that makes clear…