thu 01/12/2022

theartsdesk com, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

Adam Sweeting
Thursday, 01 December 2022
There was originally a plan to make Tokyo Vice a movie starring Daniel Radcliffe, but it has ended up as a TV series starring Ansel Elgort. It’s almost certainly the better for it...
Cheri Amour
Thursday, 01 December 2022
In 2016’s abrasive album opener, "Dead Weight", frontwoman Mish Barber-Way laments over multiple miscarriages as her biological clock ticks away like a malevolent metronome. How...
Gavin Dixon
Wednesday, 30 November 2022
There is no mistaking Christian Gerhaher. His voice is a light, agile baritone, and it is utterly distinctive. He is a very verbal singer, and is as happy delivering his lines in...
Barney Harsent
Wednesday, 30 November 2022
“You’re filmin’ a movie or something – can you explain this?” the radio DJ turns to Neil Young, a laugh underpinning his question and setting the scene: light, jovial.“We’re just...
Stephen Walsh
Wednesday, 30 November 2022
There are conductors, and then again there are choral conductors. I sang under David Willcocks in Tallis’s 40-part "Spem in alium" and remember vividly that long-armed semaphoring...
Guy Oddy
Wednesday, 30 November 2022
This Is What We Do is only Leftfield’s fourth album in a career that has lasted almost 35 years (on and off). But if there is a dance outfit that can demonstrate the worth of...
Rachel Halliburton
Tuesday, 29 November 2022
The elation in the queue was palpable as people stood laughing and chatting in the November cold waiting for the doors of...
Helen Hawkins
Tuesday, 29 November 2022
For his final bow as artistic director of the Orange Tree, Paul Miller has decided to go out with a bang, amid much giggling...
Mark Kidel
Tuesday, 29 November 2022
Justin Adams has been exploring music that produces trance or near-trance states for a number of years. Along with being...
Peter Culshaw
Tuesday, 29 November 2022
Welcome to the latest edition of Peter Culshaw’s occasional radio show, which normally has a global music focus. This week’s...
Peter Culshaw
Tuesday, 29 November 2022
Even those with the most tangential connection to pop music will be aware that K-Pop is all conquering, and the likes of BTS...
Graham Rickson
Tuesday, 29 November 2022
Son of the White Mare (Fehérlófia), a 1981 Hungarian animated epic, defies easy description, Marcell Jankovics’ film...
Mark Hudson
Monday, 28 November 2022
Looking back on the most exciting, atmospheric and musically challenging gigs I’ve seen to date, there are several...
Sarah Connolly
Monday, 28 November 2022
The decision of Arts Council England to withdraw funding from the English National Opera and force it to move out of London...
Matt Wolf
Monday, 28 November 2022
I bow to no one in my affection for Matilda the Musical onstage, which I've loved across multiple iterations, from Stratford...
Aleks Sierz
Monday, 28 November 2022
What is the best way of talking about the Middle East? Should plays take a documentary or verbatim approach, all the better...
Boyd Tonkin
Monday, 28 November 2022
Half a century ago, Michael Tippett’s A Child of our Time felt inescapable. For a youth-choir singer in the London of that...
Barney Harsent
Monday, 28 November 2022
“All of this music, it’s nothing to do with the listener,” Stormzy announced to Louis Theroux in a recent TV interview. “All...
Nick Hasted
Sunday, 27 November 2022
Rian Johnson’s Knives Out sequel is an even more brightly entertaining puzzle picture, revelling in the old-fashioned...

★★★ BAGHDADDY, ROYAL COURT Middle-Eastern magic realism is strong if a bit messy

★★★★★ BLU-RAY: SON OF THE WHITE HORSE Eye-popping Hungarian animated epic is a treat

RIP WILKO JOHNSON (1947-2022) Snug-bar confessions in an epic encounter with the Bard of Canvey Island

★★★★ ARMS AND THE MAN, ORANGE TREE THEATRE Absurdly romantic notions about love and war have never been funnier 

★★★★★ MATILDA THE MUSICAL Matthew Warchus's glorious stage show sparkles anew onscreen

★★★★ JUSTIN ADAMS & MOHAMMED ERREBBAA, THE JAM JAR, BRISTOL The African roots of rock'n'roll

★★★★★ PARK JIHA, STONE NEST, K-MUSIC Timeless evocative East-West soundscapes

DAME SARAH CONNOLLY An open letter from the singer and her colleagues to Arts Council England

★★★ IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, ENO Capra’s sharp-edged sentiment smothered in endless schmaltz

★★★★ GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY Grand, class-conscious escapism


disc of the day

Album: White Lung - Premonition

White Lung honour their circle pit pulsing punk anthems with a fifth and final release


Tokyo Vice, BBC One review - murder, extortion and corruption in the Japanese capital

Eager American reporter Jake Adelstein plunges into the murky world of the Yakuza

1899, Netflix review - Atlantic voyage turns into cosmic nightmare

Another mind-bending trip from the creators of 'Dark'

Blood, Sex & Royalty, Netflix review - yo, bros, get down with the GOAT, Henry VIII

Netflix aims a hip hop historical drama about Anne Boleyn at the Young Adult audience


Neil Young: Harvest Time review - a thrillingly intimate fly-on-the-wall documentary

Warm, celebratory, charming, and fun - was the making of Neil Young's 'Harvest' the making of the singer?

Blu-ray: Son of the White Mare

Eye-popping Hungarian animated epic is a treat for the senses

Matilda the Musical review - a dizzying, smartly subversive delight

Matthew Warchus's glorious stage show sparkles anew onscreen

new music

Album: White Lung - Premonition

White Lung honour their circle pit pulsing punk anthems with a fifth and final release

Album: Leftfield - This Is What We Do

Progressive House progenitors refuse to follow trends but show no drop in quality


An open letter from Dame Sarah Connolly and colleagues to Arts Council England

The mezzo is joined by an operatic who's who in a plea to save English National Opera

It’s a Wonderful Life, English National Opera review - Capra’s sharp-edged sentiment smothered in endless schmaltz

A committed company show, but Jake Heggie’s operatic musical is irredeemably shallow

The Rake's Progress, Royal Academy of Music review - Hogarth's Rake enters the digital age

Energy and ideas (so many ideas) from this playful production, but where's the emotion?


Arms and the Man, Orange Tree Theatre review - a rollicking take on Shaw's satirical classic
Absurdly romantic notions about love and war have never been funnier
Baghdaddy, Royal Court review - Middle-Eastern magic realism
New play about an Iraqi exile and his daughter is strong if a bit messy
Elf, Dominion Theatre review - hit musical revival slays it again
Buddy the Elf charms everyone on either side of the fourth wall


English National Ballet: Ek, Forsythe, Quagebeur review - two masters, two marvels

ENB shows its range in a devastating new Rite of Spring from Mats Ek, and pop heaven from William Forsythe

Birmingham Royal Ballet: Into the Music, Sadler's Wells review - a visual and aural feast

Beethoven rules the day in a fine mixed bill, and an overlooked choreographic master belatedly takes a bow

Light of Passage, Royal Ballet review - a new full-evening work by Crystal Pite is eloquent and moving

Proof, once again, that ballet has the muscle to tackle big topics


Helen Bauer, Soho Theatre review - rollicking show about how to be a modern woman

Feminism from a different angle, as 'Madam Good Tit' flies in from the Fringe


Patti Smith: A Book of Days review - adding to Insta's debris

The punk legend's archive of selfies, birthday greetings, and apothegms

Derek Owusu: Losing the Plot review - the finest perfume

Smells and scent bind this poetic study of identity and diaspora

Science Fiction: Voyage to the Edge of the Imagination, Science Museum review - travel to a galaxy not so far away

The glitzy Science Museum show fails to impress, but its accompanying book inspires

visual arts

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Tate Modern review - a forest of huge and imposing presences

Smell the sisal and feel small in the company of giant hangings

Things, Musée du Louvre, Paris review - the still life brought alive

Monumental Paris art show asks questions about the nature of things

Donna Fleming: Apocalypse, The Pie Factory, Margate review - personal passions and intense feelings

Six years of work expressed through mercurial changes of medium


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