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Mecca Show, Camden Cocktails, Lorca’s Mad Widow: London Weekend

February 05, 2012

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Preview by Farah Nayeri

Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- A dozen women in black chadors crowd the home of a mourning widow and her unwed daughters.

The widow’s name is Bernarda. She’s the heroine of Federico Garcia Lorca’s “The House of Bernarda Alba,” transposed to rural Iran in a new staging. The two cultures are not as unrelated as you might think: Honor and virginity are paramount in both. Replace the priests with mullahs and you’re there.

Well, almost. Bernarda is played by Iranian-born Oscar nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo, whose English is heavily accented. Her daughters, meanwhile, have posh English elocution -- and tricky Persian names, like Asieh.

“The House of Bernarda Alba” is staged by British-Iranian director Bijan Sheibani at the Almeida Theatre. Information: or +44-20-7359-4404.


Unless you’re Muslim, you will never experience the pilgrimage to Mecca.

The British Museum gets you as close as possible in a sweeping and engaging exhibition.

Choice items include an 8th-century Koran inscribed on parchment with a reed pen; a milestone on the pilgrims’ road to Mecca, also from the 8th century; and the broom and cloth that concert Harry St. John Bridger Philby (father of British double agent Kim Philby) used to clean the interior of Mecca’s holy shrine, the Kaaba, a rare privilege.

There are 21st-century displays, too. A vitrine showcases what today’s pilgrims wear -- plain cotton garb and blue flip- flops. A notebook chronicles a schoolgirl’s time in Mecca. And artist Ahmed Mater sums up the experience with a tiny magnetic cube, representing the Kaaba, surrounded by metal filings (the pilgrims).

Information: or +44-20-7323-8181.

Paramount is a restaurant and bar at the top of Centre Point, a short walk from the British Museum. It used to be a private club. Now anyone can enjoy the views from the venue, which is on the 31st to 33rd floors. Advance booking is required. Information: or +44-20-7420-2900.

Saturday Night

Roots Manuva is back in London, the city where he grew up. His tales of urban struggle, which gained extra relevance with last year’s riots, are set against a tripping backbeat.

The star, who was born Rodney Smith, will be looking back at a career that includes hits with Gorillaz, Leftfield and Coldcut. His style has evolved since his debut album in 1999, “Brand New Second Hand,” and his Roundhouse show will echo with hip-hop, funk, dubstep, pop and dance music.

The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8EH. Information: or +44-844-482-8008.

Made in Camden, inside the Roundhouse, is a good place to eat or drink. Chef Josh Katz previously worked for Yotam Ottolenghi, the restaurateur known for his light, seasonal cooking. Share small plates -- such as soft-shell-crab tempura, nori salt, jalapeno dressing -- or try inventive cocktails. Information: or +44-20-7424-9992.


Get your credit cards out for the VIP Art Fair.

The world’s first online contemporary-art bazaar (Feb. 3-8) is an opportunity to buy $200 to $1 million items from the comfort of your desktop.

Here’s hoping the fair will overcome the connection problems it had last year, when a live-chat function froze.


--With assistance from Mark Beech and Richard Vines in London. Editors: Mark Beech, Jim Ruane.

To contact the writer on the story: Farah Nayeri in London

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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