thu 01/10/2020

theartsdesk com, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

Matt Wolf
Thursday, 01 October 2020
"Getting dark," or so comments Irene Ruddock (a pitch-perfect Imelda Staunton) in passing midway through A Lady of Letters, and, boy, ain't that the truth? Both this monologue,...
David Nice
Thursday, 01 October 2020
There should eventually be a plaque on the outside of the Fidelio Orchestra Café in Farringdon, to the effect that London’s musical life after lockdown re-ignited here. And how,...
Joseph Walsh
Thursday, 01 October 2020
Aaron Sorkin’s latest powerhouse drama couldn’t come at a more opportune moment. Rife with the director’s rapid-fire dialogue, this courtroom drama is set in the wake of the 1968...
Lydia Bunt
Wednesday, 30 September 2020
What do you do when your phone rings, but you know the person ringing isn’t alive? In many ways, the cleverly named Reality, and Other Stories is a collection of ghost tales. But...
Joe Muggs
Wednesday, 30 September 2020
There’s a lot to like about Melanie Chisholm. She was always the Spice Girl who came over as most genuine and down to earth – not to mention the one who could sing. From the...
David Nice
Tuesday, 29 September 2020
How do they do it? Bach and Angela Hewitt, I mean, transfixing and focusing the audience in the Wigmore Hall – at home, too, hopefully, thanks to the livestreaming– through 13 and...
Liz Thomson
Tuesday, 29 September 2020
“Build the wall!” exhorted Trump, at rally after rally back in the days when we’d all acknowledged his moral repugnancy but...
Tom Birchenough
Tuesday, 29 September 2020
This fifth feature from Claire Denis must surely be the director’s most sheerly concentrated film. Scaling back narrative...
Olivia Fletcher
Tuesday, 29 September 2020
Death in Her Hands was a forgotten manuscript, the product of a series of daily automatic writing exercises performed by...
Boyd Tonkin
Monday, 28 September 2020
The former slave, and coachman on a sugar plantation, began one of his early public proclamations in a typically defiant...
Daniel Lewis
Monday, 28 September 2020
Ian Williams’s writing is always in motion. For his 2012 poetry collection Personals, and since, he has composed little...
David Nice
Monday, 28 September 2020
Clearly it takes peculiar circumstances for some of us to hear the Academy of St Martin in the Fields within its eponymous...
Markie Robson-Scott
Monday, 28 September 2020
The Girls, Emma Cline’s acclaimed debut novel of 2016, was billed as a story based on the Manson murders. But in fact, like...
Thomas H Green
Monday, 28 September 2020
Alongside Basement Jaxx, Groove Armada were one of the last big acts to blossom from the 1990s boom in clubland and DJ...
Peter Quantrill
Sunday, 27 September 2020
Before his retirement last summer at the age of 90, Bernard Haitink worked magic on the podium, no one is in any doubt about...
Kieron Tyler
Sunday, 27 September 2020
What happens when the hits dry up? And what happens a little further down the line, as the years of being on the charts...
Laura De Lisle
Saturday, 26 September 2020
The first words of Sunnymead Court, a new play at the Tristan Bates Theatre, are ominous. “We are transitioning from human...
Jenny Gilbert
Saturday, 26 September 2020
So the Royal Ballet is to make a live comeback, for one night only, on 9 October. Fielding the entire company of 100 dancers...
Danny Driver
Saturday, 26 September 2020
There’s an old saying that goes: if life deals you lemons, make lemonade. To say that the COVID-19 pandemic is a lemon would...

★★★★ JOHN LANCHESTER: REALITY, AND OTHER STORIES Campfire sppoks for the digital age

★★★★★ ANGELA HEWITT, WIGMORE HALL Bach's The Art of Fugue magnificently vindicated

★★★ MELANIE C - MELANIE C The nicest Spice Girl gets a disco reinvention on her eighth album

★★★★ SUNNYMEAD COURT, TRISTAN BATES THEATRE A lovely lockdown romance


★★★★★ BEAU TRAVAIL The Foreign Legion film retains its thrilling elemental mystery

★★★★ BOB WOODWARD: RAGE Terror and tyranny in the White House

disc of the day

Album: Melanie C - Melanie C

The nicest Spice Girl gets a disco reinvention on her eighth album


Bernard Haitink: The Enigmatic Maestro, BBC Two review - saying goodbye with Bruckner

Candour and warmth light up a thoroughly musical portrait

The Movies: The Seventies review - a mirror on malaise

Sky's Hollywood documentary series reaches the Watergate decade

A Special School, BBC Wales review - heartwarming film about special needs education

Lovingly made and inspiring new series shows what's possible for students with special needs


The Trial Of The Chicago 7 review – blistering docudrama that speaks to our times

Aaron Sorkin’s powerhouse film takes us back in time for a political drama that speaks to today’s politically turbulent world

Blu-ray: Beau Travail

Claire Denis' 1999 Foreign Legion film retains its thrilling elemental mystery

Miss Juneteenth review - a ray of Texan sunshine

Debuting director Channing Godfrey Peoples brings some heart to pageantry

new music

Album: Melanie C - Melanie C

The nicest Spice Girl gets a disco reinvention on her eighth album

Album: Groove Armada - Edge of the Horizon

First album in ten years from hit-making dance duo is a yacht rock stinker

Reissue CDs Weekly: Helen Shapiro - Face The Music The Complete Singles 1967-1984

A lack of hits doesn't weaken this homage to the UK’s first home-grown female pop star


Viktoria Mullova, Misha Mullov-Abbado, Fidelio Orchestra Cafe review - a rainbow of brilliant artistry

The great violinist and her double-bassist son bring light and life to a varied programme

Bach’s The Art of Fugue, Angela Hewitt, Wigmore Hall – the many voices of humanity

The Canadian pianist vindicates the master's last big collection in concert

Academy of St Martin in the Fields review - from solo meditations to collective celebrations

Messiaen and MacMillan prompt reflection, while ensemble Bach and Mozart dance


Fidelio, Garsington Opera review - heart of darkness, light-filled liberation

Fine singers equalled by Philharmonia soloists in revelatory chamber-music Beethoven

Eavesdropping on Rattle, the LSO and Bartók’s Bluebeard

Ahead of the London Symphony Orchestra’s streaming next month, a privileged preview

La bohème, Scottish Opera – pandemic Puccini

Top-quality cast and players put on a potted version in a parking lot


Sunnymead Court, Tristan Bates Theatre review - a lovely lockdown romance
Socially distanced dramedy is short and sweet, with a knockout performance from Remmie Milner
An Evening with an Immigrant, Bridge Theatre review – poetic and engaging
Masterly revival of Inua Ellams’s 2016 autobiographical one-man show


theartsdesk in Hamburg: Ghost Light - a ballet in the time of corona

How the city is showing the world a way through the live-performance impasse

'She was Paris': RIP Zizi Jeanmaire (1924-2020)

Ballet or cabaret, Zizi's passion was for performance - preferably with her husband

Dancing at Dusk: A Moment with Pina Bausch’s 'The Rite of Spring' review - an explosive African rite

Continents collide in a film documenting an inspired re-staging of a 20th-century masterpiece


John Lanchester: Reality, and Other Stories review - campfire spooks for the digital age

The hazy line between “reality” and whatever else is out there

Ottessa Moshfegh: Death in Her Hands review - a case of murder mind

The US author’s latest novel is a murder mystery, but without the death

visual arts

Hold Still, National Portrait Gallery review - snapshots from lockdown

An online exhibition offers a glimpse of life in Britain now

My Rembrandt review - hard cash and hubris

Characters historical and contemporary mingle in an entertaining portrait of the art world

George IV: Art & Spectacle, The Queen's Gallery review - all is aglitter

A sumptuous display from the Royal Collection heralds a top class reopening

latest comments

Sounds wonderful, Alekx. I wonder if they will...

Mitchell, thanks for taking the trouble to write...

This really is a terrible review. Sounds like...

Totally agree. I'm very disappointed in this...

Love this show, even though have to read sub-...

I believe you missed the boat on this. This...

'Let us be clear; the so-called “yacht” sound –...


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