wed 20/03/2019

theartsdesk com, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

Matt Wolf
Wednesday, 20 March 2019
David Hare knows a thing or two about sustaining an onstage face-off. Skylight and The Breath of Life consist tantalisingly of little else and so, for the most part, does his 1986...
Gavin Dixon
Wednesday, 20 March 2019
William Christie kicked off Passion season in London this year with a particularly sombre reading of the St John. The veteran conductor brought his French choir and orchestra, Les...
Adam Sweeting
Wednesday, 20 March 2019
Thing is, a lot of this unpleasantness could have been avoided if DI Jimmy Perez had just watched the second series of The Missing. From this he could have deduced that there was...
Laura De Lisle
Wednesday, 20 March 2019
It's an ideal time to revive James Phillips's debut The Rubenstein Kiss. Since it won the John Whiting Award for new writing in 2005 its story, of ideological differences tearing...
Joe Muggs
Wednesday, 20 March 2019
Everything about this mixtape oozes confidence. It crams 12 tracks plus interludes – all produced by Andre “Shy FX” Williams – into barely more than half an hour. It...
Boyd Tonkin
Tuesday, 19 March 2019
Standing next to the warm brown beast of a piano built by Blüthner in Leipzig in 1867, Sir András Schiff advised his audience last night to clear their minds and ears of...
Marina Vaizey
Tuesday, 19 March 2019
The Magnum photographer Martin Parr has spent decades observing contemporary human activity world-wide as – perhaps – a...
Mark Kidel
Tuesday, 19 March 2019
1957 was a busy year for a very busy director: Ingmar Bergman made two of his most famous films – The Seventh Seal and Wild...
Rachel Halliburton
Monday, 18 March 2019
Richard II has become the drama of our times, as it walks us through the impotent convulsions of a weak and vain leader...
Sarah Kent
Monday, 18 March 2019
In The Thread Russell Maliphant attempts what, at first sight, appears a foolhardy project – the juxtaposition of...
Lisa-Marie Ferla
Monday, 18 March 2019
Every so often, an album reminds you that, done properly, the art form is more than just a collection of songs. Barely 35...
Liz Thomson
Sunday, 17 March 2019
Record Store Day is now a fixture on the calendar, a key element in “the vinyl revival”, and this year – 13 April – it’s...
Kieron Tyler
Sunday, 17 March 2019
The US music trade weekly Cashbox chose a picture of the then-hot Diana Ross & the Supremes and Temptations joint...
Boyd Tonkin
Saturday, 16 March 2019
Vary the stale format of the vocal recital and all sorts of new doors open for performers and listeners alike. The only...
Katherine Waters
Saturday, 16 March 2019
There’s a wolf howl and Yxng Bane (pronounced Young Bane) jumps off a block on stage and his furry hooded coat flies open...
Graham Rickson
Saturday, 16 March 2019
 Mahler: Symphony No 3 Düsseldorfer Symphoniker/Adam Fischer, with Anna Larsson (alto) (Tonhalle Düsseldorf)Mahler's...
Veronica Lee
Saturday, 16 March 2019
Ask most people what a showband is and they’ll give you a blank look. But ask any Irish person (or those born in the Irish...
Russ Coffey
Saturday, 16 March 2019
If you're familiar with The Brian Jonestown Massacre, chances are it's from the 2004 Sundance-winning rockumentary, Dig!....
Saskia Baron
Friday, 15 March 2019
Girl opens in a golden haze of sibling affection; a teenager is tickling a little boy one sunny morning in their bedroom....

★★★★ RICHARD II, SAM WANAMAKER PLAYHOUSE Adjoa Andoh is a magnetic king

★★★★ THE THREAD, RUSSELL MALIPHANT & VANGELIS, SADLER'S WELLS An inspiring marriage of old and new

THE BEST PLAYS IN LONDON The Arts Desk's stage tips

★★★ SHOWBANDS, BBC FOUR An Irish cultural phenomenon explained

★★★ CONNOLLY, DRAKE, BERRINGTON, WIGMORE HALL Virginia Woolf inspires a rich if distracting mix of words and music

★★★★ BERGMAN - A YEAR IN A LIFE The Swedish cinema maestro dissected

★★★★ YXNG BANE, BRIXTON ACADEMY Lit gig from star on the rise

disc of the day

CD: Shy FX - Raggamuffin SoundTape

Staggeringly assured survey of decades of soundsystem culture in a tidy package

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Shetland, Series 5 Finale, BBC One review - Sicario-on-Sea?

Unflappable Jimmy Perez solves murderous North Sea crime wave

Showbands, BBC Four review - an Irish cultural phenomenon explained

Ardal O'Hanlon plays the genial host of this illuminating archive documentary

Cheat, ITV review - fear and loathing in academia

Cambridge lecturer afflicted by psycho stalker and useless husband


DVD/Blu-ray: Bergman - A Year in a Life

Master and monster: the Swedish cinema maestro dissected

Girl review - Belgian art-house portrait of a teenage ballerina

Danse macabre? Cannes festival favourite runs into flak on its wider release

Triple Frontier, Netflix review - war-on-drugs thriller suffers identity crisis

Oscar Isaac and Ben Affleck can't say no to one last big score

new music

CD: Shy FX - Raggamuffin SoundTape

Staggeringly assured survey of decades of soundsystem culture in a tidy package

CD: Lucy Rose - No Words Left

Stark and intimate songs, but there's light at the end of this tunnel

Reissue CDs Weekly: Where The Girls Are Volume Ten

The template-setting series of female-centric Sixties pop compilations bows out


Bach St John Passion, Les Arts Florissants, Christie, Barbican review – sombre but engaging

An atmospheric but unfocused reading, elevated by a fine Evangelist

Connolly, Drake, Berrington, Wigmore Hall review – between the acts

Virginia Woolf inspires a rich if distracting mix of words and music


Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Birmingham Opera Company review - searing music-theatre for all

Bloodied brides and rat-heads run amok in visceral ballroom Shostakovich

Idomeneo, English Touring Opera review – honest excellence

Strong singing and fuss-free direction do justice to Mozart's dark masterpiece

Robin Hood, The Opera Story, CLF Café review - folk hero re-imagined as Tory villain

The plot is over-stuffed, but this new opera has some riveting moments


The Bay at Nice, Menier Chocolate Factory review - David Hare talkfest takes intermittent wing
Penelope Wilton and Ophelia Lovibond face off in revival of little-known 1986 play
The Rubenstein Kiss, Southwark Playhouse review - slick spy drama doesn't quite come together
Excellent performances aren't enough to cover the holes in this fictionalised account of the Rosenbergs
Richard II, Sam Wanamaker Theatre review - electrifying mixed-race all-female production
Adjoa Andoh is a magnetic Richard with her hawk-like glare and vigorous swagger


Bon Voyage, Bob, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Sadler's Wells review - interminable ennui

At three and a half wearisome hours, this feels like a marathon

The Rite of Spring/Gianni Schicchi, Opera North review - unlikely but musically satisfying pairing

Odd-couple double bill of Stravinsky and Puccini with plenty to delight ear and eye


The Lego Movie 2 Videogame review - everything is not awesome

Few fresh ideas means this movie adaptation treads the same old ground

Anthem review - singing praises? More like a cautious nod

A rocky start for a new franchise that offers potential and problems in equal measure

Crackdown 3 review - spectacular super-powered action that was great fun many years ago

Nearly a decade has passed since the last incarnation but little has changed in this stagnant shooter

visual arts

The Best Exhibitions in London

From the Turner Prize shortlist to the future of gaming: our guide to what to see in the city

An encounter with John Richardson, Picasso's biographer who has died at 95

Picasso's definitive biographer recalls the artist he knew

latest comments

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