tue 12/11/2019

ancient Rome

Caligula with Mary Beard, BBC Two

Loving the title. Caligula with Mary Beard. Professor Beard has been mentioned adjacently to some rum types of late. Internet trolls. AA Gill. They pale into nothingness, do they not, next to the emperor who mistook his horse for a consul. And his...

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Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, British Museum

"In the midst of life we are in death.” This is a line we may feel compelled to reverse as we encounter the first exhibits in the British Museum’s extraordinarily powerful exhibition, for this is a display vividly bringing...

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Julius Caesar, Noël Coward Theatre

It’s brave to take Shakespeare into the West End in midsummer – and in this of all summers. Greg Doran’s all-black, African Caesar certainly doesn’t lack for impact, colour, zest, urgency. It takes the audience by the scruff of the neck and rams the...

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Coriolan/us, National Theatre Wales/RSC

National Theatre Wales like the word “us”. It was there in Michael Sheen’s Passion of Port Talbot – its film adaptation was called The Gospel of Us – and it is here, prominently, in the multi-layered title of Mike Pearson and Mike Brookes’ latest...

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A Monstrous Reflection: on staging Caligula

"How light power would be and easy to dismantle no doubt, if all it did was to observe, spy, detect, prohibit, and punish; but it incites, provokes, produces. It is not simply eye and ear: it makes people act and speak." Michel Foucault,...

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Caractacus, Worcester Cathedral, Three Choirs Festival

“The text of Britain’s teaching, the message of the free…”. No, not the Last Night of the Proms or the Olympic Games ahead of time. This is the final chorus of Elgar’s concert-length cantata Caractacus, which was given a vigorous work-out in this...

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The Coronation of Poppea, King's Head Theatre

Young sopranos Jessica Walker (Nero) and Zoe Bonner (Poppea) in one of their many sexy turns

When OperaUpClose's bar-side production of La bohème beat the ENO and Royal Opera House to the Olivier Awards' Best New Production gong earlier this year, it was hard - even in these award-sceptical parts - not to delight in the David versus Goliath...

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The Eagle

A chorus of "Hooray! No CGI!" has greeted Kevin Macdonald's new film version of Rosemary Sutcliff's popular novel, The Eagle of the Ninth. Not for him a Gladiator-style digital Rome, or Troy-like computer-generated navies stretching away into...

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Dispatches: Train Journeys from Hell, Channel 4/ Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, Sky 1

Railing against the railways: Richard Wilson confronts the horrors of not travelling First Class

It would take the cunning of the insane to invent the British railway network. Privatised 18 years ago, it offers the worst of all worlds - persistent overcrowding and cancellations, outdated rolling stock and fares rising vertiginously as...

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Spartacus, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House

Roll up, roll up for the ancient Roman circus of a production almost as old as I am. Thrill to the catchy tunes and the oom-pah basses of flash Aram Khachaturian, played with the kind of lurid splendour you thought could only be faked on Soviet-era...

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Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Bravo

Andy Whitfield as Spartacus, taking on the Roman Empire

I always liked that line in the 1960 Spartacus movie when Spartacus's lover Varinia (Jean Simmons) is bidding a silent farewell to the crucified rebel gladiator. "Tell da lady no loidering," growls the Roman sentry standing guard nearby.I can't tell...

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