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Ralph Fiennes Rages, Mad Ruby Wax, Uchida Plays: London Weekend

Ralph Fiennes as Prospero in
Ralph Fiennes as Prospero in "The Tempest" at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London. Fiennes has earned new legions of fans as Voldemort in the "Harry Potter" films. Photographer: Catherine Ashmore/Premier PR via Bloomberg

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Ralph Fiennes whips up a storm as a magician on the London stage.

Fiennes is Prospero in “The Tempest.” His movie-star profile -- notably as Voldemort in the “Harry Potter” series - - helped rack up 1 million pounds ($1.56 million) in advance ticket sales for the Shakespeare play.

Dressed in rags, the actor puts in a solid performance as the toppled, vindictive duke. Trevor Nunn’s production is colorful, if slow.

“The Tempest” is at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Information: http://www.trh.co.uk or +44-845-481-1870.

Saturday

Edgar Degas would have given anything for a video camera.

The French painter spent much of his career capturing movement, especially in ballet, as a well-documented exhibition demonstrates. There are sketches of ballerinas seconds before a pirouette, panning-shot-like views of ballet studios, and studies from every possible angle of a 14-year-old dancer.

Degas did get his own still camera in 1895. You can see him use it: Just check the mirror in the photograph he took that year of Renoir and the poet Stephane Mallarme, who had to hold the pose for about 15 minutes.

The show could have used a few more oils. Yet there are fine charcoal sketches, and a room of dizzying pastels so fragile, they can only be shown for three months. They alone are worth the trip -- especially because the exhibition won’t travel.

“Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement” ends Dec. 11 at the Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD. Information: +44-20-7300-8000 or http://www.royalacademy.org.uk.

Saturday Night

Ruby Wax is the loudmouth American-in-London known for going through the Duchess of York’s drawers in a 1996 TV show.

Wax also has a dark side that she exposes in her bittersweet comedy act “Losing It” (which ends Saturday night). This time, she sneers at herself as she recounts her experience with mental illness.

The comedienne serves up plenty of her signature barbs, as when she mocks the British tendency to bury emotion in cups of tea. She also makes time for an audience Q&A.

“Ruby Wax: Losing It” is at the Duchess Theatre through Saturday. Information: +44-844-482-9672 or http://www.nimaxtheatres.com/duchess-theatre/ruby_wax_losing_it.

Joe Allen, near the Duchess, has been feeding theatergoers and actors since 1997. The food is unfussy and reasonable, with the pretheater menu costing just 18 pounds for three courses. Information: http://www.joeallen.co.uk/ or +44-20-7836-0661.

Sunday

Mitsuko Uchida -- the Japanese-born, London-based pianist who became Dame Mitsuko in 2009 -- plays music by a composer she’s known for on Sunday.

Uchida completes her Beethoven piano concerto cycle at the Barbican, performing the Concerto No. 3 with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Colin Davis. If you can’t do Sunday, she plays it again on Oct. 4.

The Barbican Centre is on Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS. Information: http://www.barbican.org.uk or +44-20-7638-4141.

Sedap, a Malaysian restaurant near the Barbican, draws diners from across London. It’s a small, family run establishment, where the parents cook and the daughters serve. It’s inexpensive and can get crowded, so book early. Information: http://www.sedap.co.uk/ or +44-20-7490-0200.

(Farah Nayeri writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the writer on the story: Farah Nayeri in London at farahn@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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