sun 10/12/2023

theartsdesk com, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

Boyd Tonkin
Sunday, 10 December 2023
“Nobody likes a Messiah…”, deadpanned Robert Hollingworth, with the timing of a practised stand-up. After a pause, “…more than I do.” At St Martin-in-the-Fields on Friday evening...
Kieron Tyler
Sunday, 10 December 2023
On 21 June 1977, listeners to John Peel’s radio show heard a song titled “Pretty Vacant.” It wasn’t a preview of the forthcoming Sex Pistols single of the same name, which would...
Justine Elias
Saturday, 09 December 2023
Despite an ominous title, there’s always fair weather in the debut comic adventure film featuring Please Don’t Destroy, a NYC sketch comedy trio that’s hit it big with viral...
Helen Hawkins
Saturday, 09 December 2023
As the 117 minutes of Wonka tick by, the question it poses gains momentum: who is this film actually for? Children of all ages?It’s an “origins” story, standard now for all manner...
Anthony Cecil
Saturday, 09 December 2023
The Smyrna Catastrophe of 1922, in which tens of thousands of Greeks and Armenians were slaughtered by Turkish soldiers, is a topical subject for our dark times....
James Saynor
Saturday, 09 December 2023
After a few years of cinema, the wow factor of seeing actual things moving about on a screen wore off a bit and showmen saw that jump cuts and stop-motion – the dawn of animation...
Graham Rickson
Saturday, 09 December 2023
 Winter Breviary St Martin’s Voices/Andrew Earis (Resonus)The music at the St Martin-in-the-Fields in London has been...
Issy Brooks-Ward
Saturday, 09 December 2023
"Death, as a general statement, is so easy of utterance, of belief", wrote Amy Levy, "it is only when we come face to face...
Sebastian Scotney
Saturday, 09 December 2023
This six-track EP on Verve/UMG brings the breakthrough year of 2023 for Samara Joy to a neat close. In February she won two...
Saskia Baron
Friday, 08 December 2023
There’s a rich seam of folk stories about changelings, infants snatched from home and replaced with a substitute child, to...
Katie Colombus
Friday, 08 December 2023
I honestly never thought I'd add a Cher song to my painstakingly curated Christmas Spotify playlist. But after listening to...
David Nice
Thursday, 07 December 2023
It could have been a winner: a charismatic star soprano of great emotional and interpretative intelligence, a top pianist...
Tim Cumming
Thursday, 07 December 2023
The cat in the hat with the mellifluous voice delivers his Christmas Wish for the festive season, his first Christmas album...
Ed Vulliamy
Wednesday, 06 December 2023
A decade has passed since Paul Lewis concluded an endeavour of a kind never previously undertaken: to perform, over two and...
Heather Neill
Wednesday, 06 December 2023
As the audience enters, thick mist envelopes the thrust stage and jazz music fills the theatre. The set, designed by Moi...
Nick Hasted
Wednesday, 06 December 2023
The Boxing Day release of Michael Mann’s first feature in eight years, Ferrari, finally follows up Blackhat, a Chris...
Adam Sweeting
Tuesday, 05 December 2023
Folklore tends to depict Dublin as a convivial and picturesque city, with a bar on every corner full of revellers on wild...
Bernard Hughes
Tuesday, 05 December 2023
There’s a game called Whamageddon, where people see how deep into December they can go without hearing “Last Christmas”. I’m...
Helen Hawkins
Tuesday, 05 December 2023
Kwame Owusu’s 55-minute one-hander does just what it says on the tin: it features a young student who dreams he is drowning...

★★★ THE HOMECOMING, YOUNG VIC Low-key revival of Pinter's disturbing masterpiece

★★★ TURNER PRIZE, TOWNER EASTBOURNE Four contestants strike a sombre mood

★★★ KIN, BBC ONE Superb cast and powerful writing fuel this gripping gangland drama

★★★ DREAMING AND DROWNING, BUSH THEATRE Dense and Intense monologue about Black queer identity

★★★★ VOCES8 FOUNDATION CHOIR AND ORCHESTRA, SMITH, VOCES8 CENTRE Seasonal greatest hits selection with a spotlight on spectacular trumpeting

disc of the day

Album: Samara Joy - A Joyful Holiday

Six-track EP from the 24-year-old double Grammy winner


Kin, BBC One review - in Dublin's not-so-fair city

Superb cast and powerful writing fuel this gripping gangland drama

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


Please Don't Destroy: Treasure of Foggy Mountain review - Dude, where's our map?

Laughter is the loot in this amiably silly American comedy

Wonka review - a confusingly mixed bag of bonbons

The Paddington team struggle to make their usual recipe work

Smyrna review - Greece at twilight

The appalling climax of the Greco-Turkish War inspires a misty-eyed dud

new music

Music Reissues Weekly: Chelsea - The Step-Forward Years

How Gene October’s perennial vehicle was fundamental to the birth of British punk rock

Album: Samara Joy - A Joyful Holiday

Six-track EP from the 24-year-old double Grammy winner

Album: Cher - Christmas

Tinseltastic tunes to make you smile


I Fagiolini, Hollingworth, St Martin-in-the-Fields review - it's not the Messiah...

Festive fun, and fresh discoveries, from an irrepressible ensemble

Classical CDs: Christmas 2023

Twelve of the year's best seasonal recordings

Natalie Dessay, Philippe Cassard, Milton Court review - flashes of magic

More downtime than expected in an intelligent programme


Rodelinda, The English Concert, Bicket, Saffron Hall review - perfect team helps us stay the long Handel course

Saffron Hall celebrates its 10th anniversary in the greatest possible style

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


The Homecoming, Young Vic Theatre review - Pinter's disturbing masterpiece is given a low-key revival
Unsettling investigation of patriarchal family and sexual relationships has uneven force
Dreaming and Drowning, Bush Theatre - dense and intense monologue about Black queer identity
Terrific showcase for writer-director Kwame Owusu and his performer
Infinite Life, National Theatre review - beguiling new comedy about a world of pain
Annie Baker delivers a richly satisfying piece about hungry women


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

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