wed 11/12/2019

World War One

Square Rounds, Finborough Theatre review - the science behind warfare, told in verse

The title of Tony Harrison's teacherly entertainment – it can't be called a play – refers to the square bullets invented by James Puckle to kill Muslims in the 18th century. This shocking morsel of information is provided by the brothers Hiram and...

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Prom 72, War Requiem, RSNO, Oundjian review - the pity, and the spectacle, of war

A day after John Eliot Gardiner and wandering violist Antoine Tamestit had converted the Royal Albert Hall into a sonic map of Hector Berlioz’s Italy, conductor Peter Oundjian and his full-strength divisions transported us to the Western Front....

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The Guardians review - beautifully crafted drama

A slow tracking shot over the gassed corpses of soldiers, their masks having failed the ecstasy of fumbling, opens The Guardians. This French art house film would perhaps have been better served by the English title The Caretakers; it's...

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Aftermath: Art in the Wake of World War One, Tate Britain review - all in the mind

Not far into Aftermath, Tate Britain’s new exhibition looking at how the experience of World War One shaped artists working in its wake, hangs a group of photographs by Pierre Anthony-Thouret depicting the damage inflicted on Reims. Heavy censorship...

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Journey's End review - requiem for the poor bloody infantry

With Dunkirk and Darkest Hour threatening to storm the Oscars, it seems there’s suddenly plenty of mileage in portraits of the British at war. There have been several film and TV versions of RC Sherriff’s World War One play, Journey’s End, since it...

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Goodbye Christopher Robin review - no escape for a boy and his bear

“Isn’t it funny/How a bear likes honey?/Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!/I wonder why he does.” Those immortal words, said by the bear of very little brain in chapter one of Winnie-the-Pooh, don’t sound quite the same after watching a shell-shocked AA Milne (...

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The March on Russia, Orange Tree Theatre review – vividly funny amid the bleakness

The late David Storey spoke movingly, elsewhere on The Arts Desk, of his sense of overwhelming powerlessness at the challenge of accepting his father’s death. “I was quite racked by his death, and what death had become as an abstraction - in other...

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Kiss Me, Trafalgar Studios review - Richard Bean two-hander is affecting if slight

Hampstead Theatre Downstairs' habit of sending shows southward to Trafalgar Studios continues with Richard Bean's Kiss Me. A character study set in post-World War One London, it's a two-hander concerning the attempts of a war widow to conceive a...

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Wonder Woman review - Gal Gadot shines in uneven superhero yarn

After dipping a toe in the new-look DC Comics universe to brighten the otherwise leaden Batman v Superman, now Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman gets a chance to shine in her own Hollywood movie. Gadot makes a pretty fine job of it too, bringing a bit of...

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Frantz review - François Ozon in sombre mood: it works

François Ozon’s Frantz is an exquisitely sad film, its crisp black and white cinematography shot through with mourning. The French director, in a work where the main language is German, engages with the aftermath of World War One, and the moment...

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Three Comrades, Sovremennik review - well-oiled Russian take on 1920s Berlin

Time runs on different lines in Russian theatre to our own. The 83-year-old Galina Volchek co-founded Moscow's Sovremennik Theatre in 1956, and has been its artistic director for the past 45 years; Three Comrades has held its place in the...

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The Wipers Times, Arts Theatre review - 'dark comedy from the trenches'

You may be having a moment of déjà vu, as Ian Hislop and Nick Newman’s new play (which lands in the West End after a UK tour) was previously a BBC film (shown in 2013), and a very fine one too, covering as it does a true story from the First World...

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