Carrying out a bank heist is rather like sitting an exam. Intelligence certainly helps, but thorough preparation and a cool head under pressure may be even more important. Oh - and girls are apparently rather more successful in both activities than those unfocused boys. At least, that seems to be proved in Where the Money Is (PG-13), a film which I couldn't honestly recommend as an assembly text but which is worth seeing for several reasons.
It's efficiently made with plenty of tension, some wit and a minimum of gore, and it allows Paul Newman to prove that he has lost none of his screen presence with age, even when immobile in a wheelchair. It's also a timely reminder in the age of The Lad that an unwillingness to conform may well go hand-in-hand with talents all too ready to be subverted. But that's a rather more moralistic response than Where the Money Is probably warrants. Billed as "a stylish fast-paced caper" it follows Henry, a crafty master-criminal (Newman) who has managed to fake a stroke in prison, as he resumes his career in bank robbery with the help of a beautiful, daring nurse (Linda Fiorentino) bored with her small-town nursing home existence and her immature husband. Or, as the publicity material has it: "Henry's subversive intelligence turns out to have a ripple effect". Recognise that?
Charles Dickens's subversive intelligence sometimes caused tidal waves. After the publication of Nicholas Nickleby and the sensational unveiling of Dotheboys Hall, private schools in Yorkshire were closed down. When American ways were satirised in Martin Chuzzlewit, Dickens's work was burned in the streets of New York. These are two of the facts included by Peter Ackroyd in The Mystery of Charles Dickens, a new one man play being performed by Simon Callow. Inhabiting not only Dickens himself, but 49 of his characters, from Mr Pickwick to Mrs Gamp, he develops the thesis that the novelist, a consummate actor and play-goer, only really existed through his creations. He loved them, felt their touch in his study and wept copiously when they died.
In the No 1 dressing room at the Comedy Theatre in London, Simon Callow looks rather more in control than Dickens sometimes was. Dickens was all but beside himself when performing the death of Nancy and the audience believed they had really seen her. Callow performs the death of Nancy too, but as a professional actor, free of Dickens's rather frightening "profound psychological undercurrent".
He discovered Dickens early: "Pickwick Papers saw me through chicken pox, transported me at the age of 12." Other novels followed soon after. "There is no question," he says, "that the novels are theatre. He tried to write plays but they don't feel like Dickens. As a readr he admires Dickens's "prodigious energy, extraordinary eye and ear and tremendous, active compassion". As an actor he particularly admires his imagination. "He's often treated as a realist, but he was a sort of magic realist, the imagination is central. The size, the swagger, the intensity - you can't go over the top with Dickens." Tickets: 020 7369 1731 The term Dance Umbrella is an apt one for an extraordinary range of international dance events which will take place in eight venues in different parts of London between September 18 and November 4. The most innovative idea this year, the 22nd Umbrella season, is Virtual Incarnations which will run from October 10 to 16. Leading contemporary choreographers, including Merce Cunningham, have explored ways of embracing digital technology, developing their own software programmes to create multi-media performance art. Cunningham's BIPED, featuring huge animated dancers projected against a transparent screen at the front of the stage and a panoramic screen at the back creates an illusion of constantly changing space as 14 live dancers interact with the projections. This will be at the Barbican.
At the ICA, the touching of a white-velvet-covered table will manipulate an overhead projected dance cyborg and soundscape in Thecla Schiphorst's interactive installation work, Bodymaps: Artifacts of Touch. At the Greenwich Dance Agency, Random Dance Company's The Trilogy Installation, created by Wayne McGregor, will combine live and virtual dancers with projected graphic information, kinetic architecture and physicalised sound to a live and virtual audience. Catch this on www.randomdance.org between October 12 and 15.
Other aspects of the festival will be added to Dance Umbrella's website, www.danceumbrella.co.uk as it proceeds. Anyone willing to brave real road and rail, who isn't yet a dance aficionado but would like to know more, could begin with the Israeli Inbal Pinto Dance Company at the Bloomsbury Theatre on October 24 or 25. Wrapped promises humour and rhythm in a magical wonderland where dwarfs and giants meet Siamese twins and urban characters in long raincoats under the stars. Information: 020 8741 5881 The work of young photographers is on show at the Tom Blau Gallery in south-east London from September 12 to 22. The Ian Parry Scholarship was inaugurated in honour of the photo-journalist who died on an assignment in Romania. Its purpose is to find and encourage photographers under 25 specialising in photo-documentary. The winner receives the opportunity to take up an assignment for The Sunday Times. Information: 020 7378 1300 And don't forget the TES website where reviews are being included with the changing news: www.tes.co.uk