A HEADS UP (to use estate-agent vernacular) for the pairing at Chichester Festival of two Ronald Harwood plays. Taking Sides, about the Nazi conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler, is to be revived alongside the world premier of Collaboration, about another musical genius, Richard Strauss, who was also none-too — how can we put it? — empathetic.
Harwood, however, wants to set the record straight. “I come out pretty justly for Strauss,” the Oscar-winning writer tells Notebook. “What people have conveniently forgotten is that he [Strauss] had a Jewish daughter-in-law and Jewish grandchildren — by Nazi law. They said: ‘Do what we tell you or your grandchildren will be in danger.’ You tell me what you’re going to do in those circumstances?” that his barmitzvah cake was made in the shape of a runway. This time, however, it’s all about outdoor pools.
“What’s the piece about? Well, yeah, it is about the lido, but it’s also about other stuff: low-cost travel, the internet, Nigel Slater. Maybe it is about wanting to escape, I don’t know. Oh, and there’s also three paintings that I’ve done. On paper. I’m quite proud of those,” says the comedian. So now we know.