Moulin Rouge Star, Neil Diamond, Outdoor Mozart: London Weekend

Neil Diamond
Neil Diamond is finishing a world tour to promote his album ``Dreams'' on Columbia Records. Diamond's final dates are at London's O2 Arena. Photographer: Jesse Diamond/B|W|R Public Relations via Bloomberg

The classic winter comfort food Chicken Soup With Barley is being served in the middle of a steamy summer at Sloane Square’s Royal Court Theatre.

“Chicken Soup” is Arnold Wesker’s play about a 1930s East End mom who hopes to convert her family to the socialist cause. She cheerily makes tea for comrades in her tatty, wallpapered home, and prods her lethargic husband and two children to lash out at capitalism.

As the decades go by, the socialist ideals wither away, though the kettle still hisses in the Kahn household.

The play, which was first performed at the Royal Court in 1958, is directed by the theater’s boss Dominic Cooke. His last staging won an Olivier award (“Clybourne Park,” Bruce Norris’s sharp take on race and upward mobility).

Information: or +44-207-565-5000.

Sloane Rangers can find more refined fare in the restaurants and crowded bars around the Royal Court. If you fancy somewhere removed from the King’s Road crowds, walk back a block to Geales, a fish-and-chip shop whose menu features tempura soft-shell crab and lobster spaghetti as well as cod and fries. The location at Chelsea Green is charming. Information: and +-44-20-7965-0555.


Toulouse-Lautrec’s favorite poster girl had a sad life off the stage, as a Courtauld Gallery exhibition demonstrates.

Jane Avril, the curly-haired dancer flinging her limbs in his images, was the abused daughter of a courtesan. Diagnosed with hysteria, she was treated in a hospital before becoming a star at the Moulin Rouge and a friend of the artist.

Jane comes to life in an exquisite two-room show. First, you see Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters, sketches, and backstage lonesome portraits of her. Then you view photographs of the real woman -- more attractive than in the posters -- and the hospital register bearing the name she was given at birth.

“Toulouse-Lautrec and Jane Avril: Beyond the Moulin Rouge” is at the Courtauld Gallery through Sept. 18. Information: or +44-20-7872-0220.

Saturday Night

Rock fans face a stark choice this evening. Lovers of the mainstream may be heading to hear Neil Diamond at the 02. Those who prefer the alternative and adventurous will be checking out the 1-2-3-4 Festival in Shoreditch Park.

Diamond’s London shows come at the end of a tour that started at Auckland in February, with an emphasis on hits such as “Sweet Caroline” and “Cracklin’ Rosie.”

Those taking part in the Shoreditch event include veterans such as Lydia Lunch and Damo Suzuki, the former singer in German group Can. Also playing are newer garage and punk acts such as Black Lips, Sex Beet and Fair Ohs.

O2, Peninsula Sq., SE10 0DX. Information: +44-20-8463-2000,

Information about 1-2-3-4:

The William IV is a stylish pub-restaurant a short walk from Shoreditch Park. The menu is British, featuring favorites such as bangers and mash with onion gravy, and knickerbocker glory. Information: and +44-20-3119-3011.


Airs from “Le Nozze di Figaro” will float amid the trees of Holland Park on Sunday afternoon. Matthew Hargreaves is Figaro in Mozart’s amorous comedy, which could have been created for the open-air setting.

Director Liam Steel, fresh from the English Touring Opera, gives the work an Edwardian spin, with household staff adding a balletic touch as they whirl around the singers. Matthew Willis conducts the City of London Sinfonia.

Opera Holland Park, London W8 6LU. Information: or +44-300-999-1000

(Farah Nayeri and Mark Beech write for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are their own.)

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