Mark Rylance has changed gender.
Face caked with pale white powder, lips painted dark red, the actor is Olivia in Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” at the Apollo Theatre. Sharing the stage with him is Malvolio, played by Stephen Fry, who runs around in a beard and yellow tights.
Rylance last wowed audiences as the limping lout in “Jerusalem.” This time around, he draws giggles aplenty as the grieving Olivia, who spurns the nobleman Orsino, then develops a huge crush on a handsome messenger. Lust gets the better of the timid geisha. Trouble is, the object of her affections is a woman in disguise.
As Olivia’s manservant, Fry is entertainingly pompous. At the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 7EZ. Information: http://www.nimaxtheatres.com.
Bob Bob Ricard is near Shaftesbury Avenue, and far from the bustle of Soho on a Friday night. This eclectic restaurant is one of London’s most lavishly decorated, yet it keeps reasonable prices. Every table is equipped with a buzzer -- for that emergency Champagne refill. Bobby’s Bar, hidden in the basement, is a fine retreat for cocktails.
Information: http://www.bobbobricard.com/ or +44-20-3145- 1000.
A curly-haired blonde sits alone in a room, talking on the phone. She’s stark naked.
This is “An Annunciation” (2005) by Richard Hamilton, who died last year and has a small show at the National Gallery. It’s his iconoclastic take on the Virgin Mary receiving the news that she’s expecting. The computer-generated, painted-over image is a witty wink at the Florentine Renaissance.
Hamilton seems to have looked back a lot. The show’s climax is an unfinished triptych titled “Le Chef d’Oeuvre Inconnu” (“The Unknown Masterpiece”), which shows a nude surrounded by Balzac, Courbet and Titian. The idea came from a Balzac short story, where an artist boasts he’s making a masterpiece, then produces a dud where only a woman’s foot is recognizable.
“Richard Hamilton: The Late Works” is at the National Gallery until Jan. 13. Information: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk or +44-20-7747-2423.
Jools Holland is hitting the road to bash out good-time boogie-woogie on his piano.
The television host and former Squeeze member will be at the Royal Albert Hall for his annual two-night residency with the Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.
Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall is supporting.
Launceston Place, a short walk away, is a charming neighborhood restaurant with exceptionally good food. It has won a Michelin star under chef Tim Allen, who joined in February. The early evening menu is 30 pounds ($48).
Information: http://www.launcestonplace-restaurant.co.uk/ or +44-20-7937-6912.
Alternatively, you can follow the adventures of a group of African migrants headed for Spain in “Quimeras,” by guitarist Paco Pena, in a staging by the Southbank Centre’s artistic director Jude Kelly. Pena shares the stage with the talented dancer Angel Munoz and with a troupe of performers from Senegal and Guinea.
Information: http://www.sadlerswells.com or +44-844-412- 4300.
Stock up on gingerbread, cards and a little Bratwurst at the traditional German-style Christmas fair in the wooden chalets along the South Bank.
There’s singing while you shop -- and for recession-hit pockets, a special stall with cheap and cheerful options. The fair ends the day before Christmas.
(Farah Nayeri writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)
To contact the writers on this story: Farah Nayeri in London at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at email@example.com.