Kristin Scott Thomas is back in London playing a jaded wife whose former housemate drops by.
In Harold Pinter’s “Old Times,” Scott Thomas’s character Kate and her husband Deeley (Rufus Sewell) welcome Anna (Lia Williams), who remembers what a fun girl Kate once was. Soon it appears Anna and Deeley might have met before. Or they might not. The play becomes a rumination on how human memory reshapes the past.
The actresses swap roles on different nights; Scott Thomas is convincing either way. At the Harold Pinter Theatre, Panton Street, SW1Y 4DN. Information: http://www.oldtimestheplay.com.
If you want a bite to eat before or after, Spuntino is a short walk away. This casual, no-bookings venue is open till midnight. The menu is inspired by hangouts in New York, and focuses on simple dishes such as macaroni and cheese. Spuntino belongs to the owners of nearby Polpo. Information: http://www.spuntino.co.uk/. (There’s no telephone line.)
When is a urinal not a urinal?
When it’s signed by that great con(-ceptual) artist Marcel Duchamp, whose anything-is-art credo influenced generations of creatives. Four in particular -- Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, John Cage, Merce Cunningham -- now get a Barbican show.
Next to major Duchamp works are Johns’s branded ale and coffee cans, sculpted in bronze; and Rauschenberg “combines,” featuring a fork, a boot, or a flashlight. Bringing it all to life are the two Disklavier pianos that play Cage music in a loop, and the contemporary dancers who sporadically perform Cunningham on a central stage.
There’s also a parallel slate of shows, talks and films, including Bob Wilson in John Cage’s “Lecture on Nothing” (Feb. 25) and Beckett’s play “Watt” (Feb. 26-March 16). “The Bride and the Bachelors” ends June 9. Information: http://www.barbican.org.uk or +44-845-121-6823.
The Jugged Hare, across the street from the Barbican, is a busy pub with a popular dining room. The menu is meat-centered and there’s a spit on which dishes such as venison haunch with wild boar stuffing are prepared. It’s wise to book ahead. Information: http://www.thejuggedhare.com/ or +44-20-7614-0134.
The annual NME awards tour is required listening for rock fans keen to hear some of the most promising acts before they make it big.
This year’s lineup is headlined by the Scottish act Django Django, whose debut album won praise for fusing African sounds with folk harmonies. The lineup also includes Miles Kane, Palma Violets and Peace.
O2 Academy Brixton, 211 Stockwell Road, SW9 9SL. Information: 44-844-477-2000, http://www.o2academybrixton.co.uk/
Rock fans may also enjoy balladeer Richard Hawley, who plays The Troxy (490 Commercial Road, E1 0HX) or the urban rhymes of Example at Earls Court (Warwick Rd, SW5 9TA).
On the day the Oscars get rolled out, you can check out one nominee that deserved to win.
Max Ophuls’s freshly restored “Madame de…” (1953) is about a bored countess who sells the diamond earrings her husband gave her to fund an extravagant lifestyle. The jewels spark a chain of events that soon see the countess fall for another guy.
The statuette (one of two given for costume design in 1955) went to “Sabrina” instead.
At the British Film Institute: http://www.bfi.org.uk.
(Farah Nayeri writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include Richard Vines on food; Mark Beech on books; New York and London weekend guides; Lewis Lapham on history and Lance Esplund on New York art.