fri 07/05/2021

theartsdesk com, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

David Nice
Friday, 07 May 2021
I only saw Christa Ludwig twice live in concert, but those appearances epitomise her incredible dramatic and vocal rage as well as her peerless artistry in everything she did. The...
Thomas H Green
Friday, 07 May 2021
They stand in a row, nine of them, in a long, strange corridor between rows of stacked, palleted, planked wood and the red brick wall of an endless warehouse. Nine tripods, each...
Asya Draganova
Friday, 07 May 2021
It seems fitting that Brighton, a city of youth culture and protest, is the starting point for a band like Squid. Their debut album Bright Green Field is a real statement:...
Markie Robson-Scott
Thursday, 06 May 2021
Sheds have flourished in lockdown: they’ve always been places to escape to and in the past year, when spruced up as home offices, even more so. They’re also emblems of isolation....
Thursday, 06 May 2021
Nearly a year has passed since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police on 25 May. Nearly 200 have passed since the birth of “blackface minstrelsy” as a performance mode:...
Nick Hasted
Thursday, 06 May 2021
Rory Graham was always stoically familiar with life’s knocks. With a stage-name inspired by Galton and Simpson’s fatalistic family tragicomedy Steptoe and Son, and an underground...
John Bungey
Wednesday, 05 May 2021
If you want to understand the psychic harm that prolonged lockdown can do to a man, then take a listen to Van Morrison's new...
David Nice
Tuesday, 04 May 2021
“You have to be careful you’re not judging the piece,” cautioned a pearl-necklaced Nicholas Daniel, great oboist and winner...
Laura De Lisle
Tuesday, 04 May 2021
It wasn’t Jane Austen’s subtlest move, naming her roguish soldier George Wickham. As countless GCSE English teachers have...
Graham Rickson
Tuesday, 04 May 2021
Raw opens with a bang, a distant figure on a remote country road stepping out in front of a car, causing it to crash into a...
Adam Sweeting
Monday, 03 May 2021
WARNING - CONTAINS SPOILERSHalf the fun of this series of Line of Duty has been the crescendo of conspiracy theories...
Rachel Halliburton
Monday, 03 May 2021
To accept or not accept a donation: that’s certainly the burning political question of the moment. So Isla van Tricht’s play...
Boris Giltburg
Monday, 03 May 2021
About a year ago, in a distant pre-pandemic world, I remember walking down Edgware Road one cold London evening. I was...
Veronica Lee
Monday, 03 May 2021
What a pleasure it was to go to the first drive-in date of 2021 as Mark Watson's Carpool Comedy Club, produced in...
Aleks Sierz
Monday, 03 May 2021
I think I can safely say that polymath playwright Philip Ridley has had a good lockdown. In March last year, when The Beast...
Joe Muggs
Monday, 03 May 2021
It’s funny how the most high tech music can sound very traditional. In the case of producer / instrumentalist / occasional...
Kieron Tyler
Sunday, 02 May 2021
Carolyn Crawford’s “Ready or Not Here Comes Love” is a 1971 recording. It sounds like a Motown classic from 1968 or so – a...
Graham Fuller
Sunday, 02 May 2021
Enid Bagnold’s 1955 English play The Chalk Garden, a Broadway hit before it opened in the West End, is usually described as...
Matt Wolf
Saturday, 01 May 2021
Kindred literary spirits who overlapped in any number of ways make for riveting stuff in Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate...


★★★★ MARK WATSON'S CARPOOL COMEDY CLUB Strong kick-off to 2021 live comedy

★★★★★ RAW Bloody, compelling French horror in Julia Ducournau's feature debut

★★ INTERGALACTIC, SKY ONE Cosmic jailbreak yarn lacks dramatic weight

★★★★ TARANTULA, SOUTHWARK PLAYHOUSE Spine-tingling love and trauma

EXTRACT: 'BLACKFACE' BY AYANNA THOMPSON Examining the history and legacies of this racist performance mode 

★★★★ LINE OF DUTY, SERIES 6 FINALE, BBC ONE Jed Mercurio's harsh verdict on police corruption gives no grounds for optimism

★★★ BEING MR WICKHAM, ORIGINAL THEATRE COMPANY An uncontroversial apologia

★★★ RAG'N'BONE MAN - LIFE BY MISADVENTURE Low-key, ruefully wise sequel to a chart juggernaut

★★★★ BBC YOUNG MUSICIAN 2020 FINALE, BBC FOUR One of three finalists has the X-Factor

disc of the day

Album: Squid - Bright Green Field

An explosion of energy and intelligent anger from the Brighton newcomers


BBC Young Musician 2020 Finale, BBC Four review - poise versus extraterrestrial ecstasy

After a year's wait, three finalists serve up first-rate professionalism - and something more

Line of Duty, Series 6 Finale, BBC One review - crafty ending leaves wriggle room for a sequel

Jed Mercurio's harsh verdict on police corruption gives no grounds for optimism

Intergalactic, Sky One review - lovely CGI, shame about the drama

Cosmic jailbreak yarn struggles to convince


Blu-ray: Raw

Bloody, compelling French horror in Julia Ducournau's feature debut

Blu-ray: The Chalk Garden

Who wouldn't want Deborah Kerr as a nurturing governess?

new music

Album: Squid - Bright Green Field

An explosion of energy and intelligent anger from the Brighton newcomers

Album: Rag'n'Bone Man - Life by Misadventure

Low-key, ruefully wise sequel to a chart juggernaut

Album: Van Morrison - Latest Record Project Volume 1

The king of Celtic soul suffers a bad case of lockdown blues


BBC Young Musician 2020 Finale, BBC Four review - poise versus extraterrestrial ecstasy

After a year's wait, three finalists serve up first-rate professionalism - and something more

First Person: Boris Giltburg on lockdown interruptions to filming Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas

The Moscow-born Israeli pianist on an odyssey that took several unexpected turns

First Person: composer and Renaissance man Tunde Jegede on transcending genres

Crossing boundaries for Southampton's 'Mayflower 400: Voyages of the Heart' project


Christa Ludwig, 1928-2021: a selective tribute

The German mezzo-soprano embraced the light and the dark at a transcendental level

The Seven Deadly Sins / Mahagonny Songspiel, Royal Opera online - modern morality tales mesh uneasily

More time needed in knocking this fascinating Brecht/Weill double bill into shape

L'heure espagnole, Grange Park Opera online review - seduction and sandwiches in 60 minutes

Ravel takes a Kensington lunchbreak, in an operatic updating for the YouTube generation


Being Mr Wickham, Original Theatre Company online review - an uncontroversial apologia
Adrian Lukis proves himself far better at portraying Austen's rake than he is at writing him
Money, Southwark Playhouse online review - ethical dilemmas for the Zoom generation
A vivid and credible production that is also limited by its form
Tarantula, Southwark Playhouse online review – spine-tingling love and trauma
Philip Ridley’s new monologue is a dazzling masterclass in storytelling


The Royal Ballet - variations on a comeback

How one major ballet company survived to dance another day

Best of 2020: Dance

In a perilous year, bright ideas and perseverance sometimes prevailed

The Nutcracker: an end-of-year obituary

It's been a rough ride for the seasonal cash cow. Here's how ballet companies coped


Extract: Blackface by Ayanna Thompson

Examining the history and legacies of this racist performance mode

Kate Lebo: The Book of Difficult Fruit review - a rich, juicy delight

Essays on tricky and fascinating fruits, food and medicine, pain and care

Michael Spitzer: The Musical Human review - charting our age-old relationship with music

The futility of capturing music with words shows in this beguiling attempt at “big history”

visual arts

Points of Departure, Brighton Festival 2021 review - Ray Lee's harbour-based sound art impresses

At Shoreham's working port, something strangely wonderful is happening

Rachel Whiteread: Internal Objects, Gagosian Gallery review - apocalyptic sheds

A triumphant change of direction from the queen of casting

This is a Robbery: The World's Biggest Art Heist, Netflix - the last word (for now)

Three decades on and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum mystery is still hot

latest comments

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