wed 27/09/2023

theartsdesk com, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

Demetrios Matheou
Wednesday, 27 September 2023
Two elderly men meet in the park while walking their dogs, and become friends. Even when friendship turns to love, the hounds tend to dominate the conversation. It’s hardly the...
Adam Sweeting
Wednesday, 27 September 2023
Now that earnings from the John Wick movie franchise have topped a billion dollars, it’s no surprise that there should be moves afoot to cash in by developing a “John Wick...
Jenny Gilbert
Wednesday, 27 September 2023
Dance lovers with no access to a major city could feel genuinely hard done by were it not for Dance Consortium. This sainted organisation works to bring a company from overseas...
Sir David Pountney
Wednesday, 27 September 2023
Purcell came very early to me. When I was a chorister at St. John’s Cambridge “Jehova quam multi sunt” was a perennial favourite and we were thrilled by the evenings when George...
Gary Naylor
Wednesday, 27 September 2023
Seldom can a title have given so much away about the play to follow, not just in terms of the subject matter but also in terms of the sledgehammer approach to driving home its...
Markie Robson-Scott
Wednesday, 27 September 2023
The misty streets and lofty spires of Oxford star in this adaptation of Carolyn Weber’s 2011 memoir, Surprised by Oxford, in which she finds God while studying for an MPhil in...
Graham Fuller
Wednesday, 27 September 2023
Steven Wilson has merged various genres – metal, shoegaze, pop, dance, jazz – in his solo career without shrugging off the...
Hugh Barnes
Tuesday, 26 September 2023
Less is more, except when it isn’t. Among the latest batch of overlong Oscar-tipped movies by celebrated auteurs such as...
Aleks Sierz
Tuesday, 26 September 2023
How many hearts does an octopus have? Answer: three. This pub quiz clincher is just one of the many fascinating facts that...
Jonathan Geddes
Tuesday, 26 September 2023
There remains something disconcerting about seeing the National as arena rockers. Perhaps it’s the nonchalant stage entrance...
India Lewis
Tuesday, 26 September 2023
The latest translation of Annie Ernaux’s Shame – a text most closely akin to a long-form essay – is an absorbing examination...
Graham Rickson
Tuesday, 26 September 2023
Gregory’s Girl stands alongside Kes as one of the few films offering a realistic depiction of state school life. Director...
Rachel Halliburton
Monday, 25 September 2023
Epic and intimate, philosophically anguished and rhapsodically transcendent, Mahler’s "Resurrection" Symphony remains one of...
David Nice
Monday, 25 September 2023
Big Ben was chiming the quarter-hour as I hit the South Bank side of the river after a not terribly inspiring Remain rally...
Sarah Kent
Monday, 25 September 2023
Lasting just over an hour, The Nettle Dress is like a fairy story. It builds very slowly, each beautifully framed shot...
Miranda Heggie
Monday, 25 September 2023
To coincide with the National Library of Scotland’s first bi-lingual exhibition Sguel/Story, an exhibition in English and...
Harry Thorfinn-George
Monday, 25 September 2023
It felt inevitable that Doja Cat would turn her back on being a popstar. The Californian rapper’s career has been shaped by...
Kieron Tyler
Sunday, 24 September 2023
In September 1955, the grandly named London Skiffle Centre set up for business each Thursday in a room above the Round House...
Sarah Kent
Saturday, 23 September 2023
One of the most cherished memories of my 40 plus years as an art critic is of easing my way between Marina Abramović and her...

★★★★ MAD RUSH, CAROL WILLIAMS, RFH A rainbow of organ colours

★★★★★ MAHLER 2, LPO, GARDNER, RFH An interpretation of superlative resonance & clarity

★★★★★ LA TRAVIATA, WELSH NATIONAL OPERA Memorable revival, unforgettable lead

★★★★★ BLU-RAY: GREGORY'S GIRL Bill Forsyth's peerless romantic comedy returns

★★★★ OCTOPOLIS, HAMPSTEAD THEATRE Blue, blue, electric blue

★★★★ THE NATIONAL, OVO HYDRO, GLASGOW Commanding arenas with ease

★★★ STRANGE WAY OF LIFE Pedro Almodóvar's queer Western

disc of the day

Album: Steven Wilson - The Harmony Codex

A shimmering blend of electronica and prog inspired by a dystopian parable


The Continental, Prime Video - welcome to the expanding John Wick universe

Origin story of the hitman's hotel makes a sluggish start

Wilderness, Prime Video review - twisty thriller that leaves a nasty aftertaste

Gilded couple explore the barren lands of their blighted marriage

Top Boy, Season 5, Netflix review - grime and punishment

Ronan Bennett's Hackney crime epic reaches a fiery conclusion


Surprised by Oxford review - wishy-washy romance ticks the sightseeing boxes

Ryan Whitaker's film of Carolyn Weber's memoir of Christian conversion pulls its religious punches

Strange Way of Life review - Pedro Almodóvar's queer Western

A sheriff and his old lover spark again in a thin frontier drama

Blu-ray: Gregory's Girl

Bill Forsyth's peerless romantic comedy returns

new music

Album: Steven Wilson - The Harmony Codex

A shimmering blend of electronica and prog inspired by a dystopian parable

The National, OVO Hydro, Glasgow, review - commanding arenas with ease

A lengthy show served as a thrilling reminder of the Ohio band's rich catalogue

Album: Doja Cat - Scarlet

The Gen Z superstar offers up an uneven, sprawling rap album


Mahler 2, LPO, Gardner, RFH review - an interpretation of superlative resonance and clarity

LPO Principal Conductor's spiritually open, intellectually rigorous approach pays off

Mad Rush, Carol Williams, RFH review - a rainbow of organ colours

A born entertainer at the highest level takes on the Royal Festival Hall's refurbished giant


First Person: Director Sir David Pountney on creating a new 'Masque of Might' from the music of Purcell

Launching Opera North’s Green Season with a climate sceptic as villain

La Traviata, Welsh National Opera review - memorable revival, unforgettable lead

Stacey Alleaume has an astonishing feeling for the stage, her Violetta one in a thousand

Peter Grimes, English National Opera review - not quite the pity or the truth

Strong sounds, but the tension sometimes flags in this hit-and-miss revival


Frank and Percy, The Other Palace review - two-hander fails to escape a very short leash
Ian McKellen and Roger Allam as the lonely men who bond over their dogs
Untitled F*ck M*ss S**gon Play, Young Vic review - committed and important play let down by heavy-handed writing
Satirical comedy-drama labours its points across an uninterrupted two hours
Octopolis, Hampstead Theatre review - blue, blue, electric blue
New play about the relations between humans and other life forms has profound depths


Ailey 2, Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury review - young, black and fabulous

The younger sibling of the Alvin Ailey family visits for the first time in 12 years

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Sadler's Wells review - exhilarating display of a full deck of dance styles

From stately to sexy, these fabulously physical dancers engage every emotion

Matthew Bourne's Romeo + Juliet, Sadler's Wells review - exhilarating dancing, inventive moves

New Adventures creates lovers with tender appeal for a younger generation


Peter Kay, O2 Arena review - comeback show is worth the wait

Nostalgia-fest delivers an emotional punch

Edinburgh Fringe 2023 review: Ahir Shah

Deserved winner of prestigious award


Annie Ernaux: Shame review - the translation of pain

Tanya Leslie gracefully translates the Nobel Prize winner’s treatise on the traumas that make us

Warhol, Velázquez, and leaving things out: an interview with Lynne Tillman

Allongside its British re-release, the author of Motion Sickness discusses the state of fiction and her ways of writing

Celia Dale: Sheep's Clothing review - unsettling, mundane, and right on-trend

Daunt Books continues its mission to bring Dale’s witty amorality to modern light

visual arts

Marina Abramović, Royal Academy review - young performers stand in for the absent artist

This pioneer of performance art is the first woman to show in the main galleries

Beatriz Milhazes: Maresias, Turner Contemporary review - the taste and sight of Brazil

A retrospective of the Brazilian artist's career transports us to Rio de Janeiro

Differently Various, The Curve, Barbican review - a step in a shared direction

Richly engaging exhibition by artists who have experienced brain injuries


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