wed 07/12/2022

theartsdesk com, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

Adam Sweeting
Wednesday, 07 December 2022
Some may consider country music to be corny, sentimental and a relic of a forgotten era. If so, this six-part dramatisation of the lives of Tammy Wynette and George Jones is a...
Gary Naylor
Wednesday, 07 December 2022
Hovering way, way above us, three aptly named high fairies, in voluminous chiffon, open a show that may not be airy in the metaphorical sense, but invites us to cast our eyes...
Jenny Gilbert
Wednesday, 07 December 2022
At a time when every other theatre is offering an alternative Christmas show, what to make of the Royal Opera House’s first collaboration with Lost Dog, aka director-choreographer...
Barney Harsent
Wednesday, 07 December 2022
Good things don’t tend to come in slews. Slews seem to be reserved, pretty much exclusively, for the bad stuff: legal issues, school shootings, Christmas albums…  And so we...
Mert Dilek
Tuesday, 06 December 2022
Identity is thorny business. This was the parting thought of Anna X, the play that marked Emma Corrin’s West End debut in the summer of 2021. The same credo governs Corrin’s...
Graham Fuller
Tuesday, 06 December 2022
Paramount added a late “old dark house” mystery comedy to Hollywood’s annus mirabilis of 1939 by teaming Bob Hope with Paulette Goddard in The Cat and the Canary, skilfully...
Helen Hawkins
Monday, 05 December 2022
Apple TV+ is using the arrival of season two of Slow Horses to offer a generous three-month free trial to its streamer...
David Nice
Monday, 05 December 2022
This greatest of symphonies starts with what’s plausibly described as arrhythmia of the heart, so it shouldn’t have been...
Saskia Baron
Monday, 05 December 2022
We hear the projector whirr as the mute 16mm film flows through the sprockets and on to the screen. For three minutes and a...
Nick Hasted
Monday, 05 December 2022
This is Noah Baumbach’s most capacious, overreaching work, corralling Don De Lillo’s novel of catastrophising, neurotic...
Tom Carr
Monday, 05 December 2022
We Were Promised Jetpacks is a band name that seems off the cuff at first glance. This could be said for the Scottish indie-...
Kieron Tyler
Sunday, 04 December 2022
When Trevor Beales’s band Havana Lake released their only album in 1977, it was on a label which also issued records by The...
Nick Hasted
Saturday, 03 December 2022
Belgian brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne have made their home region of Liège the site of excruciating moral crises and...
Robert Beale
Saturday, 03 December 2022
Manchester Collective’s string orchestra programme, opening last night at the Royal Northern College of Music and touring to...
Matt Wolf
Saturday, 03 December 2022
Opposition (and history) are the apparent mainstays of the ceaselessly busy James Graham, and he conjoins the two to...
Graham Rickson
Saturday, 03 December 2022
 GoldMund, Anna Veit: Mehr Oder Weniger Lametta – arrangements of Tchaikovsky, Bach, Humperdinck, Martin Luther, John...
Joe Muggs
Saturday, 03 December 2022
Want an antidote so forced seasonal cheer and the catchiness of Christmas pop? How about some almost entirely atonal drone,...
Saskia Baron
Friday, 02 December 2022
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes are Belgium’s national conscience. The brothers, who have been sharing the roles of writer-...
Helen Hawkins
Friday, 02 December 2022
The Bush studio space is proving a fruitful launch pad, not just for new writing but for new performers. It previously...

★★★★★ SLOW HORSES, SERIES 2, APPLE TV+ Mick Herron’s spies make a welcome return

FILM DIRECTORS JEAN-PIERRE AND LUC DARDENNE 'To be living means to be fragile'

★★★★★ THREE MINUTES: A LENGTHENING Superb portrait of a vanished world

★★★★ MANCHESTER COLLECTIVE STRING ORCHESTRA Remarkable new string ensemble work

★★★★★ TORI AND LOKITA Dardennes Brothers' Cannes winning refugee drama packs a punch

★★★★★ MAHLER 9, LPO, JUROWSKI, RFH A performance to make the heart beat faster

TREVOR BEALES - FIRESIDE STORIES Recognition for Seventies Hebden Bridge troubadour

★★★★ BEST OF ENEMIES, NOEL COWARD THEATRE Opposites attract, sort of

disc of the day

Album: Backstreet Boys - A Very Backstreet Christmas

The Boys are back with a festive gift: pacing, phrasing and punch not included


George & Tammy, Paramount+ review - alcohol, violence and heartache in Nashville

Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon reincarnate country music's first couple

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


Blu-ray: The Cat and the Canary (1939) / The Ghost Breakers (1940)

Bob Hope springs eternal and Paulette Goddard dazzles in a pair of horror-comedies

Three Minutes: A Lengthening review - superb portrait of a vanished world

Found footage captures a summer's day in pre-war Poland

White Noise review - sprawling riffs on love and death

Noah Baumbach's audacious, effortful DeLillo adaptation

new music

Album: Backstreet Boys - A Very Backstreet Christmas

The Boys are back with a festive gift: pacing, phrasing and punch not included

Album: We Were Promised Jetpacks - A Complete One-Eighty

Scottish Indie-rockers push tracks from previous album in new directions

Music Reissues Weekly: Trevor Beales - Fireside Stories

Belated recognition for previously obscure Seventies Hebden Bridge troubadour


Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, LPO, Jurowski, RFH review - a performance to make the heart beat faster

A great conductor finds a line through Mahler’s most intense glooms and optimisms

Manchester Collective String Orchestra, RNCM, Manchester review - a remarkable new work for string ensemble

This themed set is an enigma, but Shostakovich puts all in perspective

Classical CDs: Christmas discs 2022

A seasonal smorgasbord: tubas, candles and a deep, deep bass


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?


Hex, National Theatre review - 12 months after being sent to sleep by Covid, Rufus Norris's show is back
Victoria Hamilton-Barritt brings superstar quality and emotional depth to villainous ogre
Orlando, Garrick Theatre review - Emma Corrin is incandescent in an underwhelming adaptation
Charming performances in this watered-down version of Virginia Woolf’s novel
Best of Enemies, Noel Coward Theatre review - opposites attract, sort of
James Graham play hits the West End on the way, presumably, to Broadway


Ruination, Linbury Theatre review - Medea gets a makeover

Ben Duke and Lost Dog inject fresh life - and some laughs - to the grisliest of Greek tragedies

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


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

latest comments

What a beautifully articulated and well-deserved...

Really excellent interview - such fascinating...

This is a brilliant letter which makes the case...

Thoroughly enjoyed this book - not read any by...

I was also there, aged 16. Yes Wilko was amazing...

Beautifully directed , superb performances and a...

This is one of the most boring films I have seen...


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