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Culture Review: Zoë Wanamaker

The Times, 2002-03-01

It was Gabriel Thomson, who plays my younger son Michael in My Family, who got me started on Harry Potter.  He went on and on about J.K. Rowling's novels.  I happen to be such a sucker for those kinds of fairy stories that it was just a licence to indulge myself.  They were totally unputdownable.

Having just finished The Human Stain by Philip Roth, a truly incredible thriller, I am now in the middle of Sister Crazy, written by a friend of mine, Emma Richler, a very, very clever girl.

I love Gimme Gimme Gimme because it is tacky and outrageous.  I like bad taste.  I saw The Producers in New York the other week and Mel Brooks has put in every tasteless joke he could think of - much more than in the movie.  There is a great number, with all these old ladies on their Zimmer frames - the height of bad taste and very good.

David Mamet's writing is just extraordinary.  Boston Marriage in particular, is very muscular and intricate as well as being very clever.  I find it an exhilarating play to do because it is so different from the way in which he normally writes.  It is a marvellous piece of fun - one brilliant bon mot after another.

I have seen a lot of things recently, but none that I would like to comment on apart from a production of Jitney by August Wilson at the National which was flawless, technically brilliant and beautifully performed.

Music is such an important constant.  It eases and uplifts the soul and puts you in a good space.  A CD called Organized (Source), by a band called Morgan, has just come into my hands.  There is a line in one track, 'Paparazzi', that goes: 'Why don't you take on Zoe Wanamaker?'  I think they were looking for something that sort of rhymed with 'Schwarzenegger'.  It is a gas, very funny and a good song, too.

My daughter has also introduced me to the music of Zero 7, who are extremely groovy.

I do like to find out what is going on because music is so much a part of our culture.  I love classical music - Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn; all those guys - and I would love to see more opera.  But you have to plan these things way ahead and I am not a 'booker'.  I cannot make a commitment for two months in the future.

One of the things that I find very sexy about New York is its seasons.  There is something exhilarating about the city, but I can only manage about nine months in it and then I become exhausted.  I went down to Ground Zero when I was there recently.  At night it was dramatically beautiful in its horror, and during the day very moving and depressing because of the dirt and devastation which is so inconceivable when you see it on television.  But the city's vibrancy and pioneering spirit is still there.

Pet Hate
Bad architecture.  Especially one building in particular on the Farringdon Road in London.  I think it is No. 20.  How you can build this piece of sh*t when you are surrounded by the beauty of places such as St Paul's is mind-boggling.

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