Saturday Review - 16/01/2010
Tom Sutcliffe is joined by poet Kate Clanchy, literary critic John Carey and comedian and writer Danny Robins to discuss the cultural highlights of the week - featuring a man whose life is spent up in the air, a woman who's legally blonde, a reclusive movie star arriving in Donegal, Doctorow's eccentric brothers and A History of the World in 100 Objects.
The film Up in the Air stars George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, a corporate downsizing expert whose cherished life on the road is threatened just as he is on the cusp of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and just after he's met the frequent-traveller woman of his dreams. The anguish, hostility, and despair of his 'clients' has left him falsely compassionate, living out of a suitcase, and loving every second of it until his boss hires arrogant young Natalie, who has developed a method of video conferencing that will allow termination without ever leaving the office.
Legally Blonde, The Musical is a stage adaptation of the 2001 comedy film which starred Reese Witherspoon, with a score by Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin. After a run on Broadway, it now comes to the Savoy Theatre in London with Sheridan Smith as Elle Woods, a pink-clad blonde from Malibu who aims to show her ex (Duncan James) that she's the serious type he's looking for by applying to study law at Harvard. Despite numerous setbacks it all hurtles towards a happy ending for those who deserve it with the help of a chihuahua, a bulldog and a UPS delivery man with a big package.
Frank McGuinness's play, Greta Garbo Came to Donegal, is set in 1967. Ireland is on the verge of violent change, two couples are on the verge of separating, a woman tries to save her family, a girl tries to save her future. Above it all but in the midst of things, determining what happens next, is the loveliest and loneliest of all women, the great Garbo.
Homer and Langley Collyer were reclusive brothers whose names became a byword for clutter and eccentricity due to the tons of junk which they accumulated in their Manhattan townhouse. EL Doctorow, whose mother would look into his bedroom when he was a teenager and cry 'The Collyer Brothers!' has used their story as the basis for his novel, Homer and Langley. The blind Homer tells how the house fills up with a bizarre collection of objects relating to Langley's various projects and obsessions - newspapers stacked to the ceiling, a Model T Ford, dismembered pianos, body parts in jars - while the 20th century laps against their doorstep and occasionally intrudes into their lives.
The Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, retells the history of human development on Radio 4, from the first stone axe to the credit card, using 100 selected objects from the Museum. Each of the 100 episodes focuses on a different object from the collection. Neil tells the fascinating stories behind the chosen item, which may be anything from a mundane tool to a great work of art, but which must be man-made. The series is chronological, beginning with some of the earliest objects from Tanzania dating to almost two million years ago, and running up to the present day.