wed 26/02/2020

17th century

Faustus: That Damned Woman, Lyric Hammersmith review - gender swap yields muddled results

Changing the gender of the title character “highlights the way in which women still operate in a world designed by and for men,” argues Chris Bush, whose reimagining of Marlowe’s play premieres at the Lyric ahead of a UK tour. It’s certainly a...

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Martin's Close, BBC Four review - where did the scary bits go?

The series of short films, A Ghost Story For Christmas, became a Yuletide staple on BBC One in the 1970s. Most of them were adapted from the works of medieval scholar M R James, and drew their unsettling supernatural aura from the understated and...

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Charles I: Killing a King, BBC Four review - sad stories of the death of kings

This three-part series by historian Lisa Hilton is a follow-up to her previous effort from last July, Charles I: Downfall of a King (BBC Four). That examined his disastrous fall from power, and this first new programme opened just before Christmas...

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Caravaggio & Bernini, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna - high emotion in 17th century Rome

It doesn’t matter where you stand, whether you crouch, or teeter on tiptoe: looking into the eyes of Bernini’s Medusa, 1638-40, is impossible. The attempt is peculiarly exhilarating, a game of dare made simultaneously tantalising and absurd by the...

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Bartholomew Fair, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse review - Jonson's chaotic slice of 17th-century life

It was a bold choice by director Blanche McIntyre to stage Ben Jonson's seldom performed, sprawling slice-of-life play in the bijou Sam Wanamaker Playhouse rather than Shakespeare's Globe's main stage – even if she has pared down both the script and...

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Artists in Amsterdam, Dulwich Picture Gallery review - a slight but evocative sketch

Done well, a one-room exhibition can be the very best sort, a small selection of paintings allowing the focused exploration of a single topic without the diluting effect of multiple rooms and objects. In this respect, Artists in Amsterdam rather...

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Charles I: Downfall of a King, BBC Four review - beheaded monarch upstaged by exotic presenter

“I want to discover how our government could fall apart and the country become bitterly divided in just a few weeks,” historian Lisa Hilton announced at the start of her BBC Four account of the traumatic demise of Charles I. In a mere 50 days in...

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theartsdesk in Treviso - cultural patronage, Italian style

Fortunate those Italian towns and cities whose Renaissance rulers looked to the arts to enrich their domain. Now neglect of cultural heritage can be laid at the doors of successive governments, but regional enlightenment can make a difference even...

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First Person: Liam Byrne on bringing Versailles to the City's 'Culture Mile'

When you dedicate your life to studying and performing on a musical instrument that essentially went extinct at the end of the 18th century, nostalgia plays a certain unavoidable role in your daily routine. I don't mean fetishistic historicism - I'm...

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Looking for Rembrandt, BBC Four review - painter's biog is a mini-masterpiece

This final episode of BBC Four's Looking for Rembrandt, exploring the life and work of the Netherlands’ greatest painter, was a mini-masterpiece in itself. We rejoined the story in the mid-1650s, when Rembrandt found that his days of popular acclaim...

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Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now, Gagosian Gallery review - old master, new ways

What are we to make of the two circles dustily inscribed in the background of Rembrandt’s c.1665 self-portrait? In a painting that bears the fruits of a life’s experience, drawn freehand, they might be a display of artistic virtuosity, or – more...

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The Crucible, The Yard Theatre review - wilfully over-stirred

The Crucible is a play that speaks with unrelenting power at times of discord, most of all when the public consciousness looks ripe for manipulation. Never more appropriate than now, you might think – and in a year in which the work of Arthur Miller...

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