wed 01/02/2023

1940s

The Last Stage review - a former prisoner returns to the death camp

Seventy-eight years ago, on January 27,1945, Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Red Army. The iconic images of the ovens with charred skulls and emaciated survivors peering through barbed wire were filmed by Russian cameramen over the...

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Allegiance, Charing Cross Theatre review - George Takei's childhood story makes a heartfelt musical

Like families, nations have secrets: dirty linen that they prefer not to expose to the light of day. Patriotic myths need to be protected, heroic narratives shaped, good guy reputations upheld. In 1942, the USA rounded up Japanese-Americans and...

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A Streetcar Named Desire, Almeida Theatre review - Patsy Ferran rises above fussy staging

It’s a long way from the dank chill of an English winter to the stultifying heat of a New Orleans summer, but we’ve been here before at this venue. Five years on from their award-winning Summer And Smoke, Rebecca Frecknall is back in the director’s...

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Watch on the Rhine, Donmar Warehouse review - Lillian Hellman's 1940 play is still asking awkward questions

We’re reminded, in a grainy black and white video framing device, that, as late as the summer of 1941, the USA saw World War II as just another European war. As brilliantly illustrated in Phillip Roth’s The Plot Against America, not only was such...

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Adam Sweeting's Top 10 Films of 2022

1. Nightmare AlleyIt’s the late 1930s, and the America depicted here is still lost in the purgatory of the Great Depression. Director Guillermo del Toro has described it as “a straight, really dark story”, but it grips like a sinister,...

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

Looking for a sparkly operatic musical, well sung and played, slick and saturated in a range of mainstream styles that stop short in the year the movie masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life was released, 1946? Then Jake Heggie’s 2016 confection may be...

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Hewitt, Hallé, Schuldt, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - lightening the gloom

If there was a certain doom-laden dimension to Clemens Schuldt’s Bridgewater Hall programme with the Hallé ( … Requiem … Mozart in D minor … Strauss describing Death and …), it was easily lightened by the conductor’s own approach and personality....

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Pioro, Julien-Laferrière, BBC Philharmonic, Schwarz, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - joy on a Saturday night

This was at first sight a somewhat ordinary looking programme for the BBC Philharmonic: Beethoven, Brahms … even Stravinsky doesn’t frighten a Saturday night audience in Manchester these days. They come for a good night out and quite a lot...

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From Here to Eternity, Charing Cross Theatre review - Pearl Harbour musical fails to fly

Whorehouses, gay prostitution and suicide – you can see why James Jones’ bestselling 1951 novel was bowdlerised by the publishers and sanitised into subtext by Hollywood for the Oscar-laden movie released a couple of years later. As the extensive...

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SAS Rogue Heroes, BBC One review - rock'n'roll desert warfare from the pen of Steven Knight

Irregular warfare has proved to be a speciality with the British armed forces. This new six-part series, based on Ben Macintyre’s 2016 book, tells the story of the chaotic birth of the Special Air Service during the war in North Africa in 1941, and...

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Good, Harold Pinter Theatre review - brilliant but half-baked

“The bands came in 1933.” So begins C P Taylor’s Good, a play that tries its hardest to resist being Googled. It was first performed by the RSC in 1981; this production, starring David Tennant as a mild-mannered German professor who gradually...

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Much Ado About Nothing, National Theatre review - Shakespeare’s comedy goes Hollywood musical

After gender-flipping the National’s Malvolio, the director Simon Godwin might have been expected to be equally bold with Much Ado About Nothing at the same address. A same-sex Beatrice and Benedick romance? Dogberry in bondage gear, zonked out on...

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