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A cornucopia of British artists

In the Wall Street Journal's Weekend Journal. -

Present Laughter, the Noel Coward comedy fuelled by the playwright's theatrical adventures, is on Broadway.

Last Station: "The entire film is a seduction, one that draws us into a vanished world where Count Leo Tolstoy and his wife of 48 years, Countess Sofya, come to joyous, tempestuous life in a matched pair of magnificent performances by Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren. . . .Ms. Mirren goes for laughs, gasps, grins and tears, and gets them all. Having found a vulnerable woman in The Queen, she finds a virago in this countess. . ."

Terry Teachout calls Joe Orton's What the Butler Saw "a masterpiece of satirical savagery disguised". It's on the boards in Tampa, Florida.

The Bridge Project, a partnership of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, London's Old Vic theater and Sam Mendes's production company, Neal Street, opens As You Like It in Brooklyn, NY, on January 26th. "The play will be followed in February by The Tempest. British and American actors perform together in both plays, which will travel to Hong Kong, Singapore and elsewhere before landing in London."

For those who like to view the cold, stormy night with a book, there is Simon Winchester - "I'm not a scientist, but marvel how he makes scientific discoveries as exciting as a thriller" or Claire Tomalin's biographies - "She's written not just about Jane Austen, Mary Wollstonecraft and Katherine Mansfield but Nelly Ternan! Then she turned to Pepys and Hardy—she can make any life fascinating". . .

Finally, with less happy views, there is AN Wilson's Our Times - "In The Victorians and After the Victorians, Mr. Wilson showed an uncanny capacity for getting at the heart of past ages. In Our Times, the trilogy's concluding volume—covering 'the age of Elizabeth II'—the author once again gives us a multifaceted portrait of an era. Like its predecessors, the book is enlivened by Mr. Wilson's gift for anecdote, character analysis—and, on occasion, character assassination."

I can't help but contrast these riches with the grim news from Haiti.

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