Mark Harvey

Rocket to the Moon

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National Theatre
Until 21 June

Clifford Odets is rightly celebrated for his earlier overtly political plays Waiting for Lefty and Awake and Sing! Rocket to the Moon, which premiered in 1938, is a more innocuous creation, centring as it does on a somewhat hapless married New York dentist, his wife, her father, and the young dental assistant and aspiring dancer who excites his desire and causes him to muse on his thwarted ambitions.

The Idea of Communism

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Edited by Costas Douzinas and Slavoj Žižek, Verso, £14.99

A conference to discuss whether the idea of communism is still of relevance to the project of human emancipation was organised by London's Birkbeck College in March 2009. Interest and ticket uptake were so high that the planned location had to be moved three times, eventually to the Institute of Education. Those of us who might have attended but for the £100 ticket price can at least console ourselves with this collection of the 15 papers that were presented.

The Melancholy Family

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Review of 'Calcutta Kosher' by Shelley Silas, Theatre Royal, Stratford

Kali Production Company specialises in bringing the writing of Asian women to the stage. Calcutta Kosher is a welcome addition to that admirable project.

India has been host to three main groups of diaspora Jews - the Bene Israel, Cochin Jews and Baghdadi Jews. As first-comers, the Bene Israel combined Jewish with Hindu and Muslim practices until the arrival of the Cochin, who were fleeing persecution in Portugal during more Inquisitive times. They found a haven free from the obscenities of European anti-Semitism.

This Time Next Year They'll Be Millionaires

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Review of 'Infectious Greed' by Frank Partnoy, Profile £9.99

Derivatives are composed of futures and options. Instead of trading a commodity, what is traded is the right or the obligation to buy or sell a commodity at a future point. These can then be yoked together in exotic combinations, rather like accumulator bets. As they are only tenuously connected to the 'real' world of the production of actually useful things, they are prey to wild speculation. This gives rise to a vast game of hot potato where the aim is to make a quick buck by passing them on before the day of reckoning when the music eventually stops.

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