sat 02/12/2023

theartsdesk com, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

Graham Fuller
Saturday, 02 December 2023
As the title character in Eileen, set in a miserable Massachusetts backwater in the days before Christmas 1964, Thomasin McKenzie plays a depressed hybrid of Cinderella and...
Kieron Tyler
Saturday, 02 December 2023
The realisation that Shirley Hurt is the name assumed by Canada’s Sophia Ruby Katz for recording helps explain why her debut album is so oblique. As well as the cloaked identity,...
Aleks Sierz
Friday, 01 December 2023
It’s an elementary fact that Dickens sells at this time of year — look at all the perennial Christmas Carols sprouting up everywhere. But if grumpy old Scrouge is an instantly...
Gary Naylor
Friday, 01 December 2023
Next door to the beautiful Art Deco Littlewoods Pools Building, nearly 30 years standing derelict, a set of grey sheds stand, a seat of potential for Liverpool’s nascent film...
Helen Hawkins
Friday, 01 December 2023
Mischief Theatre set themselves a big challenge when they evolved their brand of knowing slapstick. And not just about how to destroy the scenery without maiming themselves.More...
Sarah Kent
Friday, 01 December 2023
It takes a brave or a foolhardy person to walk the streets wearing almost nothing but barbed wire and platform shoes, especially when the occasion is an anti-war demo in Moscow...
Guy Oddy
Friday, 01 December 2023
Ghost Woman’s 2022 self-titled album and this January’s swift follow-up Anne, If were both fairly laidback and spaced out...
Demetrios Matheou
Thursday, 30 November 2023
Rebecca Frecknall opened 2023 with a youthful, visceral, and brutal Streetcar Named Desire at The Almeida; she...
Thomas H Green
Thursday, 30 November 2023
A deathless trend in pop is taking great songs, slowing them down, doing orchestral versions, or rendering them raw acoustic...
David Nice
Wednesday, 29 November 2023
This is the show that launched a thousand puns, mostly ancient-Greek-oriented, and just as many corny rhymes, all delivered...
Bernard Hughes
Wednesday, 29 November 2023
Frank Bridge’s Phantasie Piano Quartet was astutely described by his student Benjamin Britten as “Brahms tempered with Fauré...
Graham Fuller
Wednesday, 29 November 2023
Some 28 years in gestation, Peter Gabriel’s eighth studio album of wholly original songs – his first since 2002’s Up – will...
Matt Wolf
Tuesday, 28 November 2023
Familiarity has bred something quite fantastic with the Old Vic Christmas Carol, which is back for a seventh season and...
Adam Sweeting
Tuesday, 28 November 2023
It was as long ago as January last year that the prolific Williams brothers, Jack and Harry, delivered their absorbing...
Robert Beale
Tuesday, 28 November 2023
John Storgårds found himself literally facing both ways for the third item on the BBC Philharmonic’s programme on Saturday:...
Mark Kidel
Tuesday, 28 November 2023
The vast and various spaces of Frank Gehry’s monumental Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris suit the needs of the thrilling...
Graham Fuller
Tuesday, 28 November 2023
British anti-war films inspired by “the war that” failed “to end all wars” include Oh! What a Lovely War, The Return of the...
Matt Wolf
Monday, 27 November 2023
The National Theatre these days seems to be going from hit-to-hit, with transfers aplenty and full houses at home. And there...
David Nice
Monday, 27 November 2023
Singular in its variousness, this is a three-act ballet that need some unpicking. No wonder those hooked on first...

★★★ OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR, SOUTHWARK PLAYHOUSE Satirical wit and righteous anger



★★★ THE DANTE PROJECT, ROYAL BALLET Brave but flawed take on the Divine Comedy returns

★★★★ THIS IS THE KIT, BARBICAN A beautifully orchestrated end to a tour

★★★★★ GROSVENOR, PARK, RIDOUT, SOLTANI, WIGMORE HALL Chamber-music supergroup

★★★ THE WITCHES, NATIONAL THEATRE Fun and lively but where's the heart?

SOFT CELL - NON-STOP EROTIC CABARET Marc Almond & Dave Ball’s landmark 1981 debut

★★★★ BOAT STORY, BBC ONE Violent, far-fetched and extremely watchable

★★★★★ MARK ROTHKO, FONDATION LOUIS VUITTON, PARIS A show well worth the trip


disc of the day

Album: Shirley Hurt - Shirley Hurt

Canadian singer-songwriter’s enigmatic debut


Boat Story, BBC One review - once upon a time in Yorkshire

New Williams brothers thriller is violent, far-fetched and extremely watchable

The Crown, Season 6, Netflix review - royal epic in a vain search for authenticity

It looks like news photos coming to life, but the dialogue and concept still jar


Eileen review - a dank fairytale film noir

A naive prison worker crushes on a chic colleague in William Oldroyd's disturbing thriller

Queendom review - an LGBTQ+ performance artist takes to the streets of Moscow in protest

Startlingly beautiful costumes designed to challenge the authorities

Blu-ray: King and Country

The class war rears its ugly head on the Western Front in Joseph Losey's bleak classic

new music

Album: Shirley Hurt - Shirley Hurt

Canadian singer-songwriter’s enigmatic debut

Album: Ghost Woman - Hindsight Is 50/50

Psychedelicists add a bit of va-va-voom to their sound

Album: Trevor Horn - Echoes: Ancient & Modern

Downtempo cover versions run the gamut from the bland to the excruciating


Gazzaniga's Don Giovanni, Royal College of Music review - a modest one-acter overloaded

Good young singers get more opportunities than the actual work offers

Jephtha, Royal Opera review - uncomfortable sacrifice oratorio not seismic enough

Sobriety and darkness eclipse Handel's dramatic vividness, despite strong performances

theartsdesk at Wexford Festival Opera - four operas and a recital in one crazy day

Youth takes the comedy award in fringe delights alongside a well-done schlocky rarity


A Sherlock Carol, Marylebone Theatre review – merry, but mirthless
Seasonal Eng Lit mash-up returns with its festive message of forgiveness
Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Lyric Theatre review - adult panto delivered as jolly chaos
Mischief Theatre’s sight gags are faultlessly timed, though the verbals need a trim


The Dante Project, Royal Ballet review - brave but flawed take on the Divine Comedy returns

Hell and Purgatory get vivid if diffuse music from Thomas Adès, but Heaven is pallid

The Limit, Linbury Theatre review - a dance-theatre romcom that lacks both rom and com

An attempt to amplify a playscript with dance suggests the play should be left to speak for itself

Anemoi / The Cellist, Royal Ballet review - a feast of music in a neat double bill

Rachmaninov and Elgar take the laurels in a brace of prize-winning one-act ballets


Trevor Noah: Off the Record, O2 review - welcome return to standup for the polyglot motormouth

Back on tour, the former TV host has lost none of his charisma and charm


Anne Michaels: Held review - one story across time

Fragments span the genration gap in this daring family saga of inheritance and trauma

Ishion Hutchinson: School of Instructions review - learning against estrangement

A vivid eulogy for the Jamaican soldiers of the British West Indies Regiment

Jesse Darling: Virgins review - going straight

A Turner Prize-nominee turns their hand to poetry with this visceral first collection

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