Harry's back, with Romeo and Juliet

15th November 2002 at 00:00
Pottermania hits the screens, but there are other equally magical offerings, writes Heather Neill

Film

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second Potter adaptation, is a distinct improvement on the first - wittier, pacier, better acted by the now more experienced young stars. Kenneth Branagh is hilarious as the preening Gilderoy Lockhart while the flying car, marauding spiders and evil basilisk each contribute an enjoyable frisson. There are also yuck-moments to savour, especially Ron's unfortunate slug regurgitation. Two and a half hours is long, though; large popcorn required. (PG)

* An unusual film will premiere during the Birmingham Film Festival (November 14-23). Legacy was written and directed by Craig Boardman, head of drama at Colmers Farm school near the city, and involved 22 Year 10 students on work experience and several teachers from the school. They spent two weeks filming in the Lickey Hills, helped by professionals from artSites in Birmingham, and the result - a supernatural thriller - can be seen on Monday at the UGC cinema in Broad Street at 6.30pm. For information, visit www. artSites.org.uk. There will also be a debate about censorship and film classification at the Young People's Parliament, at Millennium Point in Birmingham on November 22.

Musical

Romeo and Juliet the Musical testifies to the enduring appeal of the tale of the star-crossed teenage lovers, but this version has neither Shakespeare's language nor the excitement of Baz Luhrmann's film nor the great songs and street-edginess of West Side Story. That said, young audiences may well respond to the charms of the young pop-style stars Andrew Bevis and 15-year-old Lorna Want. Jane McDonald, who sprang to fame in the TVseries, The Cruise, makes a humorous Nurse. Tickets: 020 7369 1744.

Contemporary art

At Aberystwyth Arts Centre a watery experience awaits. The visitor is promised a table of water, 30 feet long and six feet wide, a cyclical but constantly evolving banquet of sound, image and story in which memory, meeting and departure are featured - together with some spoons. It is difficult to picture this installation, Water Banquet, which is unveiled tomorrow, but it is certain to provide a unique experience, especially as each day ends with a performance of Aqua Impura, "a gathering at table, gorging on droplets". U Man Zoo are the artists and this example will be in place until November 23.

* More conventional pieces are likely to be celebrated at the same gallery during the Wales Drawing Biennale between December 4 and January 18. Works in a range of media by artists based in Wales have been selected by Len Massey, the new tutor in drawing at the Royal College of Art. Information: 01970 621903.

Theatre

Tom Courtenay will delve into the personality and poetry of Philip Larkin in a one-man piece at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. Pretending To Be Me follows a day with Larkin and features some of his most memorable poems, illuminated by the jazz he loved. From November 22. Tickets: 0113 213 7700. Information: www.wyp.org.uk.

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