Tax Exile Returns, Savoy Brunch, Finicky Rothko: London Weekend

William Scott and Mark Rothko
William Scott and Mark Rothko have a cigarette and a conversation at Elm Tree Cottage in Somerset in August 1959. The photograph is part of "Rothko in Britain" at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. Photographer: James Scott/William Scott Foundation/Whitechapel Gallery via Bloomberg

A tax exile and his wife sneak back to the U.K. for some time alone at home.

They are met with much commotion in a riotous new staging of Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off.” The dirty weekend is disrupted by a frumpy housekeeper, an ageing burglar, a keen young realtor, and a redhead tax inspector.

That’s just half the story. The other half is the behind-the-scenes making of the play, which you also see: a spectacle of swinging doors, missing props, and serial seduction.

Lindsay Posner directs the play at the Old Vic Theatre. Information: or +44-844-871-7628.


Mark Rothko was a tough one to please.

He gave minute instructions for his 1961 exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery that are now in a gripping 50th-anniversary display of letters, photos, and a single canvas.

Walls, he wrote, should be “considerably off-white with umber and warmed by a little red.” Paintings “should not be over-lit or romanticized by spots; this results in a distortion of their meaning.”

Britons (pictured here in their 1960s frames and duffel coats) liked the show, and Rothko liked them back.

“I feel so in tune with people like Shakespeare and Dickens,” he wrote, “I often think that they must really have been Russian Jews who emigrated to New York.”

“Rothko in Britain” is at the Whitechapel Gallery through Feb. 26. Information: or +44-20-7522-7888.

Moo Grill is a popular and inexpensive Argentine steak house near the Whitechapel Gallery, serving gourmet sandwiches as well as the usual cuts of meat. It’s open from 6 p.m. on Saturdays and for lunch on Sundays. Information: or +44-20-7377-9276.

Saturday Night

The Wild West is coming to London. Queen Elizabeth Hall will be taken over by themes from “For a Few Dollars More” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”

A week after the Southbank Centre hosted a firework display patriotically set to British music, the Spaghetti Western Orchestra is looking to America for inspiration. The quintet plays more than 100 instruments and specializes in tracks by Ennio Morricone. They add humor with sound effects, blowing on bottles, crushing cornflakes and bashing squeaky toys.

Concerts through Jan. 11 at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX. Information:, +44-20-7960-4200 or


Today is your last chance to buy edgy designs at low cost.

A dedicated fair at Somerset House offers jewelry, vases, ceramics, stationery and glassware by 40 designers for between 20 pounds ($31.20) and 200 pounds. They may not be precious gems -- some jewels are even made of plastic and paper -- but they’re sure to be fresh designs.

“Designers & Makers at Somerset House” ends today: or +44-20-7845-4600.

You might think the Savoy would be too expensive for a meal near Somerset House. It’s certainly not cheap. Yet the Sunday Jazz Brunch -- 38 pounds for two courses, 46 pounds for three -- at the River Restaurant is worth considering for special occasions. The menu is tempting and there’s a view across the Thames. Just don’t dress too casual. It’s a fancy restaurant and sportswear isn’t allowed. Information: or +44-20-7420-2111.

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