Portrait of Winston Churchill, a rarely seen life-size painting by William Orpen, one of Britain’s most significant portrait painters and war artists is now on display at the National Portrait Gallery. Painted in 1916, during the darkest moment in the statesman’s career, Churchill regarded it as the finest portrait of himself. Capturing a mood of uncertainty, Orpen spoke of the misery expressed in the face. Churchill told the artist, ‘It is not the picture of a man. It is the picture of a man’s soul.’ Throwing himself into military strategy in the First World War, Churchill’s level of involvement ran the risk of his being held personally responsible for failure, as turned out to be the case in the Battle of Gallipoli, 1915-16, fought in the Dardanelles Straits and the Gallipoli peninsular. At Kitchener’s urging Churchill had tried to secure the Straits in a naval campaign, but it ended in disaster. By the time the troops were evacuated in 1916 some 46,000 allied troops had been killed. Churchill resigned and his public reputation was only partly rehabilitated by the Dardanelles commission,
1916-1917. Daily from 10am. 2 St Martin's Place, London WC1.
18 JANUARY-12 MAY – Classic locked-room mysteries, tales of murder and mayhem in quaint villages or gritty adventures on mean city streets are the subject of a new festival at the British Library. Crime fiction, which currently accounts for over a third of all fiction published in English, holds millions of people enthralled. Murder in the Library will take you on a fascinating journey through the development of crime and detective fiction, from its origins in the early 19th century through to contemporary Nordic Noir, taking in the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the first appearance of Miss Marple and the fiendish plots of Dr Fu Manchu along the way. Daily from 9:30am. At the Folio Society Gallery. Admission free. 96 Euston Road , London NW1. Visit: www.bl.uk
29 JANUARY – The Finborough Theatre’s remarkable series of rediscovered plays from the early 20th century continues with John van Druten’s London Wall, opening tonight at 7:30pm at the Finborough Theatre for a strictly limited four week season, and presented by the acclaimed Two's Company. London Wall is a wryly comic look at the life of women office workers in the 1930s. In a solicitor’s office in the City, Brewer, the office manager, sees pretty new 19-year-old typist Pat as fair game. As some of the more experienced secretaries try to warn her, and others leave her to her fate, her steady boyfriend – an idealistic young writer – desperately tries to win her back. Meanwhile, cynical Miss Janus' romantic life seems to be over as she is jilted by her lover at the desperate age of 35. First performed in the West End in 1931 starring a young John Mills, filmed in 1932, televised in 1963, but unseen since then, London Wall is a surprisingly modern look at men's continuing inability to see women as professional equals and colleagues.Until 23 February. 118 Finborough Road, London SW10. Box Office: 0844 847 1652 Book online at www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk Tuesday to Saturday evenings at 7.30pm. Sunday matinees 3.00pm. Saturday matinees at 3.00pm (from the second week of the run). Tickets: £16-£6.
Until 31 JANUARY – The ENO’s The Mikado is Jonathan Miller's comic masterpiece and the definitive version of Gilbert and Sullivan's timeless classic. Miller's spectacular song and dance show, with its high-kicking chorus lines, sparkling wit and 1930s inspired sets and costumes, is packed with 'theatrical delights' (The Guardian) and 'a wow for all the family' (Daily Telegraph). Wittily transposing the topsy-turvy Victorian values of Gilbert’s mock-oriental Town of Titipu to a Marx Brothers-inspired take on the denizens of a very English 1930s seaside hotel, Miller’s much-loved production returns two years after celebrating its silver jubilee. The starry cast of seasoned veterans and fresh-faced newcomers is led by ENO’s resident master of the comic patter song, Richard Suart, who this season celebrates his own 25th anniversary in the role of Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner. At 7.30pm. Some matinees at 2.30pm . At the London Coliseum, St. Martin’s Lane, London WC2. Tel: 020 7-845 9300. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org