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Runaway Dancer, Atkinson Mopes: London Weekend Guide

February 14, 2013

'Quartermaine's Terms'

Rowan Atkinson as St. John Quartermaine in "Quartermaine's Terms" by Simon Gray at Wyndham's Theatre. The title character is a well-meaning and lonely teacher in a language school. Photographer: Nobby Clark/Cornershop PR via Bloomberg

Runaway Ukrainian dancer Sergei Polunin returns (briefly) to the Royal Opera House.

Polunin -- who quit the house in 2011 after becoming its youngest-ever principal the year before -- joins fellow departee Tamara Rojo (the new head of English National Ballet) in the one-act “Marguerite and Armand.”

That’s the piece Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn made memorable. Also on Feb. 21. Information: http://www.roh.org.uk or +44-20-7304-4000.

In Simon Gray’s “Quartermaine’s Terms,” Rowan Atkinson plays a lonely, tweed-suited teacher whose pleasant demeanor conceals an utterly joyless life. His peers at a Cambridge language school are no better off, each struggling with a problem parent, spouse, or child.

An excellent cast and deft directing from Richard Eyre make this a show to see. At the Wyndham’s Theatre. Information: http://www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk.

Koya, a short walk from Wyndham’s Theatre, is a great place for noodles, though you may need to stand in line. Information: http://www.koya.co.uk/ or +44-20-7434-4463.

Saturday

They’re the best-known beggar boys in the history of art.

Bartolome Esteban Murillo’s “Three Boys” (c. 1670) -- street urchins who won’t share their pie -- are a highlight of “Murillo & Justino de Neve: The Art of Friendship” at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, whose central enfilade has temporarily been turned into a dim Sevillan church interior.

Murillo’s patron Justino paid him to do religious images such as a giant “Immaculate Conception” (1660-65). Yet his portraits of youngsters are much more endearing, and here’s why: According to the curators, the street urchins could be his own sons posing for dad, and the smiling flower girl in “Spring” (1665-70) may well be his deaf-and-dumb daughter.

Information: http://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk or +44-20-8693-5254.

Saturday Night

John Prine brings his guitar and poetic songs to the Barbican. The U.S. singer has spent 40 years examining overlooked ironies of everyday life with songs such as “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness.”

Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8BS. Information: +44- 7638-8891, http://www.barbican.org.uk.

Rock fans seeking a louder, faster dance alternative can head over to Koko’s in Camden where Mr. Scuff is playing. Born Andy Carthy, the one-time supermarket shelf stacker is now a producer and musician known for his DJ sets, which often run for five hours or more.

Koko, 1A Camden High Street, NW1 7JE. Information: +44-870- 432-5527 or http://www.koko.uk.com/ or http://www.mrscruff.com/

Sunday

Piano’s best-known duo, the French sisters Katia and Marielle Labeque, perform Debussy and Ravel at the Southbank.

They’re part of the yearlong “Rest is Noise” festival -- inspired by Alex Ross’s book on 20th-century music -- which in February focuses on Paris between 1910 and 1930.

There’s also a Saturday night performance of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Yannick Nezet-Seguin.

The festival’s next segment: Berlin in the 1920’s and 1930s, with Liza Minnelli revisiting “Cabaret” on March 1. Information: http://therestisnois.southbankcentre.co.uk

The Oxo Tower Brasserie is just along the river from the Southbank Centre and has great views as well as live music in the evening. For a more formal meal, try the restaurant: http://www.harveynichols.com/restaurants or +44-20-7803-3888.

Muse highlights include Zinta Lundborg’s New York weekend, Lewis Lapham on history, Catherine Hickley on movies and Scott Reyburn on the art market.

(Farah Nayeri writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the writer on this story: Farah Nayeri in London at farahn@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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