wed 18/09/2019

ancient Rome

Pitzhanger Manor review - letting the light back in

When in 1800 the architect Sir John Soane bought Pitzhanger Manor for £4,500, he did so under the spell of optimism, energy and hope. The son of a bricklayer, Soane had – through a combination of talent, hard work and luck – risen through...

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Imperium, Gielgud Theatre review - eventful, very eventful, Roman epic

History repeats itself. This much we know. In the 1980s, under a Tory government obsessed with cuts, the big new thing was “event theatre”, huge shows that amazed audiences because of their epic qualities and marathon slog. A good example is David...

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The New Royal Academy and Tacita Dean, Landscape review - a brave beginning to a new era

This weekend the Royal Academy (R.A) celebrates its 250th anniversary with the opening of 6 Burlington Gardens (main picture), duly refurbished for the occasion. When it was dirty the Palladian facade felt coldly overbearing, but cleaning it has...

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Julius Caesar, Bridge Theatre review – blood, sweat and bullets

All hail! Shakespeare’s Roman drama may be enjoying something of a resurgence at present, but it rarely proves as vital and arresting in performance as this. Last summer in the US, a staging at the Public Theater caused a furore and frightened away...

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Titus Andronicus, RSC, Barbican review - blood will out

Live theatre, eh? It had to happen. On press night a sound of what seemed to be snoring (the production’s really not dull) revealed, in the Barbican stalls, a collapse. About an hour in, a huge amount of blood is smeared over Titus Andronicus’s...

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Julius Caesar, RSC, Barbican review - Roman bromance plays straight

Even more than some of Shakespeare’s other histories, Julius Caesar inevitably offers itself to “topical interpretation”, a Rorschach test of a play which directors short of an original idea can extrapolate to project their own political aperçus...

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From Life, Royal Academy review - perplexingly aimless

Dedicated to a foundation stone of western artistic training, this exhibition attempts a celebratory note as the Royal Academy approaches its 250th anniversary. But if the printed guide handed to visitors offers a detailed overview of working from...

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Coriolanus, Barbican review - great, late Shakespeare compels but doesn't stun

Coriolanus is post-tragic. It never horrifies like Macbeth or appals like King Lear, though its self-damaging protagonist is disconcerting enough. Shakespeare had written the signature dark dramas by 1606, including the most magnificent of the four...

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Salomé, National Theatre review - Yaël Farber’s version is verbose and overblown

Is God female? It says a lot about Yaël Farber’s pompous and overblown new version of this biblical tale at the National Theatre that, near the end of an almighty 110-minute extravaganza, all reason seemed to have vacated my brain, and its empty...

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Sunday Book: Philip Hook - Rogues' Gallery

The art dealers of today must be thanking their lucky stars that Philip Hook’s remarkable history of their trade stops where it does. For while it serves as an eminently useful if rather specialised reference book, it’s a history pushed along by a...

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Ben-Hur

Ben-Hur, the remake of the remake, is an epic misfire starring no one you’ve ever heard of apart from, inevitably, Morgan Freeman. What in heaven, you may ponder if accidentally trapped at a screening, were the producers thinking? Their rationale is...

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Mary Beard's Ultimate Rome: Empire without Limit, BBC Two

The world of antiquity, from Greece to Rome, is both so familiar and so unknown. So it was more than welcome when the immensely knowledgable Professor Mary Beard – the role of the academic, she announced, is to make everything less simple –...

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