An old man with a hole in his shirttails pulls a banana out of his desk and chomps on it with evident glee.
The man’s name is Krapp, and he’s the lone character in Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape,” starring Michael Gambon (also known as Dumbledore in “Harry Potter”).
After a long, wordless start in which bananas are consumed, Krapp celebrates his 69th birthday by playing a reel he recorded on his 39th, when life and love still held out hope.
“Just been listening to that stupid bastard I took myself for 30 years ago,” Krapp barks into the microphone, as he begins the recording that will be his last.
Gambon, who is also 69, pulls off this theatrical tour de force. The play ends Nov. 20 at the Duchess Theatre, 3-5 Catherine Street, London WC2B 5LA. Information: http://www.nimaxtheatres.co.uk or +44-844-412-4659.
A racy vision adorns the poster for the latest extravaganza at the Royal Academy of Arts: two women embracing, only one wearing clothes (a red negligee).
Egon Schiele’s 1915 work is one of more than 200 on loan in “Treasures from Budapest: European Masterpieces from Leonardo to Schiele.” Tamer works include a proud water-carrier woman by Goya, an unfinished Madonna by Raphael, and Rembrandt’s drawing of his wealthy wife and sitter Saskia, who died at age 29.
Another gem: El Greco’s unusually suggestive portrait of St. Mary Magdalene, who all but bares her left breast, and rests her hand on a human skull.
The show, which ends Dec. 12, is at the Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J OBD. Information: http://www.royalacademy.org.uk or +44-20-7300-8000.
U.S. songwriter Jonathan Richman is back in London, playing four shows including the Monto Water Rats on Saturday night. Richman, 59, started with “Roadrunner” and “Egyptian Reggae” and has continued making music such as the childlike “Tag Game” and comic “Ice Cream Man.”
Rock fans who find Richman’s feigned innocence a little irritating may prefer Jean Michel Jarre, who brings his icy synthesizers to the O2 arena this weekend. Information: http://www.themonto.com, http://www.theo2.co.uk/
A Brueghel that may be sold by its aristocratic owner has triggered a U.K.-wide campaign to keep it where it is.
“The Procession to Calvary” (1602) by Pieter Brueghel the Younger shows Christ bearing the cross in a crowd of 200 and a Flemish landscape. It has hung for two centuries at Nostell Priory in Yorkshire, and if 2.7 million pounds ($4.3 million) aren’t found by year end, the “for sale” sign will go up.
You can see the Brueghel beside works by himself and his father at the National Gallery through Nov. 9, and support the campaign via the Art Fund, which has given 500,000 pounds: http://www.artfund.org.
London used to be a culinary joke before Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay helped raise standards in the mid-1990s with their fine French cooking. English cuisine still has a way to go. Hix (http://www.hixsoho.co.uk/) is the leader of the pack, along with St John (http://www.stjohnrestaurant.com/). For tradition, try Wiltons (http://www.wiltons.co.uk/home), which traces its history to 1742.
(Farah Nayeri writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)