Culture News in Brief: HC Andersen’s creepy secret and a director’s obsession with midgets

From the storytelling maestro’s to Whacko Jacko’s bedroom and the macabre role choices by Charlotte Rampling, the weirdness continues

In Martin McDonagh’s new play ‘A Very Very Very Dark Matter’, in which HC Andersen and Charles Dickens play prominent parts, the Irish playwright portrays the celebrated British novelist as a “foulmouthed, lecherous fraud”, according to the Observer.

And according to John Bowen, a professor of 19th century literature at the University of York, the truth was far worse as Dickens actively tried to gaslight his wife – convince her she was insane – so he could commit her to an asylum and settle down with his mistress.

Another midget
Nevertheless, ‘A Very Very Very Dark Matter’, which ran from October to January in London, is very much about Andersen, and although it touches on the Danish writer’s visit to Dickens’ home in 1857, it is mostly set in Copenhagen.

It is set in an attic flat in the Danish capital where Andersen keeps an African midget woman captive in a cage – for 16 years! She is, the darkly comic play reveals, the muse for creations such as ‘Thumbelina’.

McDonagh’s trademark
Fans of McDonagh might start to question whether he is taking his obsession with deriving humour from midgets too far.

In the films ‘In Bruges’ and ‘Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri’, thanks to the inclusion of Peter Dinklage, you would have thought the laugh barrel had been rendered dry. Obviously not.

Paul Simon makes donation to Natur & Ungdom in keeping with tour pledge
The American singer-songwriter Paul Simon has donated over 150,000 kroner to outdoor youth association Natur & Ungdom in Skanderborg, eastern Jutland, as part of his mission to make a charitable donation in every country he visited as part of his 2018 tour. Annette Rask Krogsøe from Natur & Ungdom told TV2 Østjylland that the organisation thought it was a joke when it received the notification from Germany. “It looked like a Ghanaian letter, and we didn’t really believe it,” she said. “He writes in his letter of thanks that he would like to ‘give back’ to the audience who has supported him for many years.”

No Jacko ban, says DR
DR has confirmed it will not be blacklisting Michael Jackson in light of the allegations in the documentary ‘Leaving Neverland’ that he abused children. Norway’s national broadcaster, NRK, will no longer play his songs on most of its  platforms. “We don’t have blacklists,” explained DR’s radio manager Gustav Lützhøft to DR, who added that context was a major consideration. So presumably there will be no more ‘ABC’ on DR Ramasjang then.

Brothers pen Eurovision entry for Moldova
After near-misses in Denmark, Greece, Romania and Lithuania, songwriting brothers Jeppe and Thomas Reil, who are perhaps best known for penning hits in Japan and South Korea, have finally fulfilled their ambition to see one of their songs qualify for the Eurovision Song Contest. While the Danish entry –  ‘Love Is Forever’ by Leonara – is 15th on most bookmakers’ lists and generally available at 25/1, the Brothers Reil have penned a 150/1 outsider, ‘Stay’, which will be performed by and sung by Anna Odobescu for Moldova. The eastern European country is no slouch in the contest. In the previous two years, it has finished third and tenth.

Danish ambassador to America’s story to be made into film
The story of Henrik Kauffmann, the Danish ambassador to the US during World War II, is being made into a feature film starring Ulrich Thomsen, a memorable Bond villain in Tomorrow Never Dies, in the lead role. ‘Our Man in America’ will be directed by Christina Rosendahl (‘Idealisten’) and co-star Mikkel Boe Følsgaard (the mad king in ‘A Royal Affair’). Shooting will commence in April, with a likely release date in the spring of 2020.

Charlotte Rampling takes cameo in Danish crime series
British actress Charlotte Rampling, who never seems to turn down a part these days – particularly if it’s set in the Cold War or on the trail of a serial killer – has taken a cameo in the new Danish crime series ‘DNA’, which stars Anders W Berthelsen and Nicolas Bro and is set to debut this autumn on TV2.

Cartoon is the most watched Danish film at the cinema since 1985
The cartoon ’Ternet Ninja’ has now sold over 900,000 tickets, making it not only the most successful home-grown film at Danish cinemas this century, but also the best for 34 years. One would have to go back to the 1985 flick ’Walter og Carlo –  op på fars hat’ for better ticket sales.

Holiday strikes gold at the Bodils
‘Holiday’ was the big winner at the Bodils – the awards chosen by the nation’s film critics. While Jakob Cedergren won best actor for his role in ‘Den skyldige’ (‘The Guilty’), which dominated the Roberts in early February and also made the nine-film shortlist for the Oscars, ‘Holiday’ was clearly the critics’ favourite, scooping the awards for best film, actress (Victoria Carmen Sonne), supporting actor (Lai Yde Holgaard) and cinematographer.

Russell Howard confirms performance at Bremen
British comedian Russell Howard has confirmed he will be bringing his ‘Respite’ tour to Bremen Theater on March 16 next year – so just a day before the St Patrick’s Day celebrations. His Netflix special ‘Recalibrate’ has been seen by 127 million people, although he is best known in the UK as a regular on ‘Mock the Week’. Tickets cost 355 kroner and go on sale on March 11 from 09:00 via