wed 21/02/2024

theartsdesk com, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

Joe Muggs
Wednesday, 21 February 2024
It must be kind of unreal living in the Stereolab universe. A band of geeky introverts, beloved of the type of hairclip-and-satchel indie ultras a friend of mine used to call “the...
Adam Sweeting
Tuesday, 20 February 2024
This three-part drama arrives trailing clouds of big-byline glory. Michael Sheen directed and produced it (as well as making fleeting appearances on screen), James Graham wrote it...
Helen Hawkins
Tuesday, 20 February 2024
It’s tempting to see the second gala created by Ukrainian-born Ivan Putrov as a reflection of the shift in Ukraine’s fortunes since his first one in March 2022. Somehow, just...
India Lewis
Tuesday, 20 February 2024
After a first read of the blurb for Sheila Heti’s Alphabetical Diaries, you might be forgiven for assuming that this is merely a gimmick.The book does what it says on the tin:...
Graham Rickson
Tuesday, 20 February 2024
Diving into this three-disc set of early films by maverick Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski leaves one reeling, an arresting reminder of the vibrancy and flair of so much 1960s...
Adam Sweeting
Monday, 19 February 2024
The end of the first series of Kin found Dublin’s Kinsella crime family ridding themselves of bloodsucking drug baron Eamon Cunningham, but this was not an unalloyed blessing. As...
Robert Beale
Monday, 19 February 2024
Placing the UK premiere of Katherine Balch’s whisper concerto (for cello and orchestra) after Haydn’s Symphony No. 100 was...
Veronica Lee
Monday, 19 February 2024
It's probably fair to say that Paul Foot is an acquired taste for some; his absurdist, poetic comedy isn't for everyone but...
Kieron Tyler
Monday, 19 February 2024
The dolefulness of the title Loss of Life is reflected by what’s in the grooves. The lyrics of the Todd Rundgren/Queen-esque...
Kieron Tyler
Sunday, 18 February 2024
Lou Christie fancied offering some social comment. The lyrics of his May 1967 single “Self Expression (The Kids on the...
David Nice
Saturday, 17 February 2024
David Hemmings was, by his own later admission, a knowing and bumptious boy when Britten cast him as the ill-fated Miles in...
Mark Kidel
Saturday, 17 February 2024
Thursday night at Islington’s legendary Hope and Anchor:  a challenging time and place to get an audience going, not...
Jack Barron
Saturday, 17 February 2024
David Harsent has won a lot of prizes. From the Eric Gregory to the T. S. Eliot, he has carved out a literary career...
Bernard Hughes
Saturday, 17 February 2024
This was a muesli programme: nutty, crunchy, just sweet enough, its success lying in the balance of the various ingredients...
Kathryn Reilly
Saturday, 17 February 2024
Indie national treasure Nadine Shah is back, which is excellent news. Not least because it might not have happened. She...
Sarah Kent
Friday, 16 February 2024
At last Yoko Ono is being acknowledged in Britain as a major avant garde artist in her own right. It has been a long wait;...
Robert Beale
Friday, 16 February 2024
Opera North have a new pairing for Mascagni’s popular but clichéd Cavalleria Rusticana in this double bill: an early...
Matt Wolf
Friday, 16 February 2024
Sisters are doing it for themselves, just as families as a whole are, too, on the London stage these days. Dear Octopus...
Demetrios Matheou
Friday, 16 February 2024
It's been a decade since Lisandro Alonso’s last film, Jauja, which signalled the Argentine's first collaboration with...

★★ JUST FOR ONE DAY, THE OLD VIC Clunky scenes and self-conscious exposition between great songs

★★ JENNIFER LOPEZ - THIS IS ME ... NOW Ode to being loved-up doesn't achieve lift-off 

★★★★ DEAR OCTOPUS, NATIONAL THEATRE Period rarity is a real pleasure

★★★★ NELKEN: A PIECE BY PINA BAUSCH, SADLER'S WELLS A new generation of gifted performers for us to get to know

★★★★ THE TASTE OF THINGS A gentle love letter to haute cuisine

★★★ PALOMA FAITH - THE GLORIFICATION OF SADNESS Big emotions, big tunes, firehose intensity

★★ EUREKA Lisandro Alonso’s latest foray into slow cinema may test even his fanbase


★★★★ DAVID HARSENT: SKIN Resilient expressions and elegant introspections

★★★★ YOKO ONO: MUSIC OF THE MIND, TATE MODERN A fitting celebration of the early years


disc of the day

Album: Laeitia Sadier - Rooting for Love

Strange and beautiful dream transmissions from the weird world of Stereolab


The Way, BBC One review - steeltown blues

Michael Sheen's ode to Port Talbot stretches credulity

Kin, Series 2, BBC One review - when crime dynasties collide

Dublin becomes a war zone in Peter McKenna's addictive drama

The New Look, AppleTV+ review - lavish period drama with more width than depth

Ben Mendelsohn's tender performance as Dior anchors the spectacle in emotional truth


Blu-ray: Jerzy Skolimowski - Walkower, Bariera, Dialóg 20-40-60

Visually striking early works from an iconoclastic Polish director

Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind, Tate Modern review - a fitting celebration of the early years

Acknowledgement as a major avant garde artist comes at 90

Eureka review - not enough to shout about

Lisandro Alonso’s latest foray into slow cinema may test even his fanbase

new music

Album: Laeitia Sadier - Rooting for Love

Strange and beautiful dream transmissions from the weird world of Stereolab

Album: MGMT - Loss of Life

US art-rock duo see the lighter side of pessimism

Music Reissues Weekly: Lou Christie - Gypsy Bells

First-time exploration of the ‘Lightnin’ Strikes’ hit-maker’s 1967 spell with Columbia Records


Fung, BBC Philharmonic, Weilerstein, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - clever and comical

First UK performance of new cello concerto by Katherine Balch given with uncanny skill

Malofeev, BBCSO, Lintu, Barbican review - finesse as well as fireworks

Youthful pianist and senior composers offer excitement and bravura


Cavalleria Rusticana/Aleko, Opera North review - a new foil for Mascagni

Overlapping casting in two tragedies of infidelity and jealousy

Così fan tutte, Opera North review - a safe bet

Voices and personalities in balance and contrast in revived Albery production

The Handmaid's Tale, English National Opera review - last chance saloon for sub-Atwood baggy monster

Kate Lindsey is the saving, amazing grace of Poul Ruders’ lumpy music drama


Turning the Screw, King’s Head Theatre review - Britten and the not-so-innocent
Real-life triangle around the composer’s darkest masterpiece yields fitfully strong drama
Dear Octopus, National Theatre - period rarity is a real pleasure
A pitch-perfect Lindsay Duncan leads a large and splendid cast in Dodie Smith rediscovery
Just For One Day, The Old Vic review - clunky scenes and self-conscious exposition between great songs
Saint Bob, Mrs T and a whole lot of feelgood. Oh, and mass starvation


Dance for Ukraine Gala, London Palladium review - a second rich helping of international dancers

Ivan Putrov's latest gala was a satisfying mix of stars and young hopefuls

Dark With Excessive Bright, Royal Ballet review - a close encounter with dancers stripped bare

The Royal's Festival of New Choreography launches with an unforgettable walk in the dark


Jessica Fostekew, Soho Theatre review - age is just a number

Landmark birthday prompts some musings

Fascinating Aida, London Palladium review - celebrating 40 glorious years of filth and defiance

Age has not withered one jot the FAs' fury at the absurdities of modern life


Sheila Heti: Alphabetical Diaries review - an A-Z of inner life

Heti goes far beyond a gimmick in this work of surprising and moving insight

David Harsent: Skin review - our strange surfaces

A fine poet pens a set of resilient expressions and elegant introspections

Brian Klaas: Fluke review - why things happen, and can we stop them?

Sweeping account of how we control nothing but influence everything

visual arts

Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind, Tate Modern review - a fitting celebration of the early years

Acknowledgement as a major avant garde artist comes at 90

When Forms Come Alive, Hayward Gallery review - how to reduce good art to family fun

Seriously good sculptures presented as little more than playthings or jokes

latest comments

Excellent review perfect, great series hope there...

Why should there be “a Paloma Faith song”? I...

I think it would be a fault to leave the remark...

Yes! I totally agree. I love Tosh's character and...

Do catch Barbara Dickson while you still can. She...

Don't forget that the original version of State...


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters