Gervais is on form, and that's no lie

<strong>Film<br />THE INVENTION OF LYING<br />12A</strong><br />***<br />RICKY GERVAIS is God. Or at least, that&rsquo;s what he just about becomes in this quirky comedy which should be able to charm even those suffering from Gervais fatigue. It&rsquo;s set in a world like our own, except for the fact that nobody has ever told a lie. Hearing exactly what people think of you is a problem for a tubby, uncharismatic loser like Mark Bellison (Gervais), particularly on a date with Jennifer Garner&rsquo;s unattainably beautiful Anna &ndash; until Mark invents lying. Banks give him however much money he claims is in his account; women believe they must sleep with him because he says the world will end if they don&rsquo;t. And then he invents religion.<br /><br />In many ways this is a gently enjoyable tale in which Gervais proves (again) that when it comes to comic timing he&rsquo;s up there with the best. And the idea of an ugly Englishman going to Hollywood and making a film that suggests religion is a lie is quite a good joke in itself.<br /><br />Timothy Barber<br /><br /><strong>Theatre<br />BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY&rsquo;S<br />Theatre Royal, Haymarket</strong><br />**<br />Quite what director Sean Mathias hoped to achieve with this production of Truman Capote&rsquo;s classic book is a mystery. It would be impossible for any actress to rival Audrey Hepburn&rsquo;s performance in the film version as the Lolita-style gangster moll and party girl Holly Golightly. So it&rsquo;s not really the fault of Anna Friel that she failed to save the show.<br /><br />Most of the publicity for this show has surrounded the fact that Friel gets naked at one point. She also spends a lot of time in her underwear. It&rsquo;s totally unnecessary. (To be fair, her male co-star also got his kit off once as a small &ndash; okay, medium-sized &ndash; concession to those immune to Friel&rsquo;s charms.)<br /><br />Perhaps Friel would have had a chance of salvaging this if she not been surrounded by hollow, mediocre acting and amateurish, ugly staging. The production&rsquo;s worst offender was Joseph Cross, the bland actor who slowly killed the part of the narrator William Parsons. Parsons is meant to be a nuanced, intriguing character, a struggling author swept into Golightly&rsquo;s orbit. And yet Cross was just dull. He looked dull, talked dully and acted dully, a true representation of a production that lacks pretty much everything bar the occasional flash of naked flesh.<br /><br />Zoe Strimpel<br /><br /><strong>Exhibition<br />ANISH KAPOOR<br />Royal Academy</strong><br />****<br />Anish Kapoor is best known in this country for his vast, organic structure called Marsayas which filled Tate Modern&rsquo;s Turbine Hall back in 2002. The 55-year-old artist&rsquo;s retrospective at the RA is just as vibrant and thrilling.<br /><br />Kapoor&rsquo;s world is like an art playground. It&rsquo;s full of pulsating colours, tactile forms and teasing mystery. There&rsquo;s a huge yellow dimple in the wall; a slow train that runs backwards and forwards over a great slick of waxy red paint; curved mirrors that turn the world on its head and piles of squeezed clay that ooze in circles like toothpaste; and every 20 minutes, a cannon fires crimson paint into a corner of the gallery.<br /><br />For all that this is alluring, playful stuff, it&rsquo;s not all just texture and surface. There&rsquo;s a meditative, mystical quality to Kapoor&rsquo;s work that&rsquo;s equally absorbing.<br /><br />TB<br /><br /><strong>MOCTEZUMA: AZTEC RULER<br />British Museum</strong><br />****<br />In the beauty stakes, Aztec artefacts rank highly. Stunning stone sculptures of eagles, skulls encrusted with turquoise, finely sculpted greenstone gods and all manner of complex, expressive carvings fill out the British Museum&rsquo;s reading room.<br /><br />They are bittersweet artefacts to admire, however. They are beautiful from our vantage point, but they were almost all used to further the blood-thirsty requirements of the Aztecs&rsquo; ritualistic existence. Human sacrifice was the centrepoint of the society &ndash; everything from weather to natural disasters to military success was determined by feeding the gods enough blood.<br /><br />Moctezuma came to power in 1500 and was known first as a fan of rituals and second as a bold statesman that ruled a relatively enormous swathe of land. In fact, when Spaniard Hernan Cortes arrived in Mexico in 1519 to colonise the Aztec empire, Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), was bigger than every city in Europe bar Constantinople and Naples, with a population of 200,000. The Aztec civilisation was complex and powerful, crowded with mythical beliefs and warlike sensibilities &ndash; no wonder its final figurehead has captured European imagination ever since.<br /><br />This exhibit contains a meticulous collection of Mexican artefacts which make for easy viewing, though details of Moctezuma and his court are vague, mostly represented in Spanish depictions. The latter includes exquisite oil paintings which are among the best part of the show. It&rsquo;s well worth seeing, if you don&rsquo;t mind the heavy presence of skulls.<br /><br />ZS

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