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Matthew d’Ancona’s Culture: An Enemy of the People is a very special production indeed

Our editor-at-large’s rundown of the pick of the week’s theatre, books and cinema

Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan in Ethan Coen’s first solo movie, Drive-Away Dolls. Photo: Wilson Webb/Working Title/Focus Features

Welcome to this special New York edition of your weekly round-up of what’s best in culture and the arts. As always, we’d love to hear what you’re enjoying: please send your tips to


Circle in the Square, until June 16

First Shiv, now Kendall. As Sarah Snook takes London by storm in The Picture of Dorian Gray, so her on-screen Succession sibling, Jeremy Strong, is doing the same on Broadway as Dr Thomas Stockmann in Amy Herzog’s adaptation of Ibsen’s 1882 classic.

Unlike the modernised version of the play by Thomas Ostermeier and Florian Borchmeyer presently running at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London (with Matt Smith in the lead), Sam Gold’s production is very much a period piece with wing collars, Norwegian folk song and aquavit offered to the audience from the in-the-round stage.

Stockmann is the medical officer of a town spa, who discovers that its water is contaminated; a character whose oscillation between integrity and narcissism gives Strong plenty to work with. Thomas’ brother, Peter, is the town mayor, played by Michael Imperioli (best-known as Christopher Moltisanti in The Sopranos and more recently seen in The White Lotus). His scenes with Strong crackle with dramatic energy, as the brothers fight over the respective claims of civic morality and commercial expediency. One is struck that, like Elisabeth Moss, both are A-list performers who have primarily made their name in prestige television rather than on the big screen.

Wherever and whenever a particular adaptation is set, Ibsen’s play explores themes that feel sharply contemporary in the 2020s: populism, opposition to science, the dangers of majority rule, free speech, the corruption of public life. Donald Trump has often described the media as “the enemy of the people”, while the Daily Mail famously said the same of the judiciary. Jeremy Strong makes this a very special production indeed: Come for Kendall, leave cheering for Stockmann.



This memoir is the talk of the town in NYC, and rightly so. No journalist has done more to bring the world of tech to life than Kara Swisher, who, even as she was being steered in the early 1990s towards stardom as a White House reporter by the Washington Post sensed, correctly, that power, energy and excitement were migrating, fast, to Silicon Valley.

What Swisher grasped was that this was going to be a story about both absolutely everyone and a minuscule oligarchy of extremely talented – and often extremely flawed – individuals. Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk: she knows, or knew, them all and, for three decades, has written and podcasted, without fear or favour, about their achievements and their lunacies.

Some of the anecdotes are breath-taking; for instance, the baby shower thrown in 2008 by Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his then wife Anne Wojcicki, at which the adult guests were urged to wear onesies and nappies (Swisher declined, as did Gavin Newsom, then mayor of San Francisco – though Wendi Deng, at the time Rupert Murdoch’s wife, opted for “a diaper and sucker combo”).


UK release from March 15

Now that Joel Coen has shown what he can do solo in The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021), his younger brother Ethan, co-writing with his wife Tricia Cooke, delights with this genre mash-up – a road movie, crime caper, LGBTQ romcom, and Preston Sturges screwball comedy, all in 84 minutes.

As the action opens in Philadelphia in 1999, out-and-proud Jamie (Margaret Qualley) and her rather more strait-laced friend Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan) take a trip to see the latter’s aunt in Florida and, to avoid rental charges, head for a drive-away service where they pick up a Dodge Aries, destined for Tallahassee.

Needless to say, the car is meant to be driven by somebody else and is carrying some – ahem – unusual contraband. Clearing up the mess falls to the mysterious “Chief” (Colman Domingo) and there are enjoyable cameos from Pedro Pascal, Miley Cyrus and, in particular, Matt Damon. Drive-Away Dolls loves being a B-movie and the spirit of fun which it unashamedly embraces. You remember fun, don’t you?


Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Ave, until July 28

More than 160 paintings, sculptures and photographs in 11 rooms plus a “coda” gallery: has there ever been a more comprehensive and imaginative tribute to the Harlem Renaissance, the blossoming of African American creativity between 1918 and 1940?

Superbly curated by Denise Murrell, the Met’s exhibition shows the manifold ways in which the ideas of WEB Du Bois and Alaine LeRoy Locke interacted with the figurative art of Winold Reiss, Aaron Douglas and Laura Wheeler Waring, and with the literary work of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston.

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