Romeo and Juliet review, Birmingham Royal Ballet BRB, Sadler’s Wells: luxurious and intensely stirring entertainment

Classical ballet – even of the earthier, 20th-century kind – can struggle at Sadler’s Wells. The stage isn’t quite big enough to allow some of the larger ensembles and longer stories to breathe, there’s no proscenium arch to provide an elegant frame for the action, and the stark modernity of the auditorium is often at…

Giulio Cesare, review: smashing revival of a gorgeous Glyndebourne classic

Despite a certain initial notoriety relating to the Britney Spears dance routines that accompany some of the arias, David McVicar’s 2005 production of Handel’s most popular opera has become a copper-bottomed Glyndebourne classic, as this smashing revival proves. Deftly balancing formal baroque tradition with free-form Broadway pizzazz, the Victorians-in-India setting is sketched through the lightest…

To See the Invisible, Aldeburgh Festival, review: oddly compelling

One may expect the Aldeburgh Festival to open with something big, something new or something upbeat, but this year the mood proved somewhat different: a rather dark-toned concert in the main hall of the Maltings, followed by a distinctly far-out one-act chamber opera in the smaller Britten Studio. The result was an interesting evening, but…

Agrippina, Grange Festival, review: a rare Handel production indeed – it actually left the audience wanting more

If you think Baroque opera is a dull business of cardboard characters wrapped in incomprehensible plots and interminable arias, the Grange Festival’s production of Agrippina could just win you round. Handel’s brilliant early opera has been judiciously cut and shrewdly directed, in a way which gives it a biting, farcical edge. At its heart is…

The best steam cleaners and steam mops

Just short of getting on your hands and knees with a sponge and some soap water, steam cleaners and mops can be one of the best ways to keep the surfaces in your home nice and clean. Steam cleaning has enjoyed a boost of popularity in recent years. Sir James Dyson, the man behind the…

Beyonce and Jay-Z review, Principality Stadium, Cardiff: Power couple air their laundry — and show they’re undeniably crazy in love

Should anyone have doubted the veracity of the well-publicised infidelity at the heart of Jay Z and Beyonce’s marriage, the hip-hop mogul and pop star wasted little time in setting them right. “THIS. IS. REAL. LIFE” flashed across Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on the opening night of their On The Run II Tour. Here, America’s unofficial…

Classical music for a modern age: outside the concert hall

Classical music for a modern age” is a video series exploring the evolving landscape of the “new classical” genre, which flourishes on the borderland where classical meets pop, experimental and multimedia. It takes place in new spaces in front of younger, less stereotypical audiences, and springs from an unlikely alliance of old-style classical musicians with…

Arctic Monkeys review, Primavera Sound – despite their disparate material, this was a blistering, cohesive set

Fans need not worry. Headlining Barcelona’s sun-soaked Primavera Sound festival on Saturday night, the quartet delivered a 20-track set that was surprisingly cohesive, weaving together their disparate material into one pleasing whole. Guitars snaked and rasped; drums thundered; and Turner’s voice glided seamlessly between falsetto and a baritone croon that recalled fellow Yorkshireman Jarvis Cocker….

The best camping stoves

Whether you’re a dedicated pampered camper with all the gear, or just need some lightweight kit for a festival, wild camping or backpacking trip this summer, it’s important to put some thought into how you’ll be cooking (and what you’ll be eating) while you’re away. After all, there’s nothing more satisfying than leaning back in your camping chair…

Classical music for a modern age: alternative performance format

Classical music for a modern age” is a video series exploring the evolving landscape of the “new classical” genre, which flourishes on the borderland where classical meets pop, experimental and multimedia. It takes place in new spaces in front of younger, less stereotypical audiences, and springs from an unlikely alliance of old-style classical musicians with…

Candide review, Iford Arts: a banquet of delights

Aside from prolixity, I can’t fault Clarke’s absolutely super staging. By dint of resourceful theatrical imagination he has managed to produce a witty, lavishly costumed spectacle on a shoe-string, and although the overall length may be wearisome, each of the 23 individual episodes is immaculately paced and sharply characterised, with due weight given to the…

Tartuffe review, Theatre Royal Haymarket: Sacré blue! Ce bilingual Tartuffe ne works pas

Tartuffe, the time-honoured (in its day controversial) 1664 comedy about religious charlatanism and hypocrisy, can leave you weeping with laughter – witness Tom Hollander’s memorably impish imposter at the Almeida in 1996. This frankly maladroit project, however – boasting an Anglo-French cast, flipping between the two languages and throwing mean, moody Peaky Blinders star Paul…

8 of the best picnic baskets and hampers for 2018

British summertime sees our parks and green spaces flooded with picnickers eager to make the most of the rare sunshine. If you’re thinking of joining them, then you’ll be in need of either a traditional hamper or a practical, modern picnic bag (complete with the requisite wine glasses or champagne flutes, in either case). They’re perfect…

Listen to an exclusive stream of Morcheeba’s new album Blaze Away

After a five-year hiatus, British trip-hop pioneers Morcheeba return with a new album Blaze Away.  Blaze Away, their ninth album, marks a return to the joyous genre-mashing of their early days.  And you can listen to the album in its entirety with our exclusive stream below: Discussing the album, producer Ross Godfrey said: «We brought…

Classical music for a modern age: cross-genre influences

Classical music for a modern age” is a video series exploring the evolving landscape of the “new classical” genre, which flourishes on the borderland where classical meets pop, experimental and multimedia. It takes place in new spaces in front of younger, less stereotypical audiences, and springs from an unlikely alliance of old-style classical musicians with…

Shirleymander review, Playground Theatre,  London W10: memorable encounter with a dubious force of nature

Anthony Biggs’s production sets the political sleaze to a deliciously retro soundtrack (Madness! Bucks Fizz! Soft Cell!), with all the players trapped inside Gregor Donnelly’s neon-lit set which lies somewhere between a Rubik’s Cube and the Blankety Blank studio. Intermittent projections show newspaper clippings from the time. Evans has clearly done his research, and the…

Peter Pan review, Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park: return of a production that really soars

The devil is the detail. Designers Jon Bausor (set), Jon Morrell (costumes) and Rachael Canning (puppetry) ensure that whether it’s mermaids with gas-masks for faces, a Neverland replete with poppies or a tin helmet sitting snugly atop the chimney of Wendy’s ad-hoc fashioned house, the ecstasy of archaic play-fighting foreshadows the agony of real warfare….

Classical music for a modern age: Ludovico Einaudi

Classical music for a modern age” is a video series exploring the evolving landscape of the “new classical” genre, which flourishes on the borderland where classical meets pop, experimental and multimedia. It takes place in new spaces in front of younger, less stereotypical audiences, and springs from an unlikely alliance of old-style classical musicians with…

Life Is a Dream review, Rambert, Sadler’s Wells: a perplexing but beguiling grapple with reality  

However, there’s a very fine line between seductive mystery and exasperating confusion, and the piece is soon straddling it. As ever, Brandstrup deploys his dancers with authority, using somehow apt “freeze-frames” amid the movement and whipping up some moments that really stick in the memory (that early scene of human puppetry; the director’s later, mirror-like…

Smoove and Turrell perform single You’re Gone in acoustic music session

Smoove & Turrell return with You’re Gone, which they perform in a special acoustic music session. Taken from their fifth studio album Mount Pleasant, the single discusses the balance of frustration, pride and vulnerability present in a lovers’ argument. Although it is performed here by John Turrell and guitarist Lloyd Wright, the album version features singer…

Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets review, Dingwalls: thrilling return to weirdness of Sixties Pink Floyd 

 Kemp and Pratt both seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely, sharing vocal duties in very rough approximations of Syd Barrett, Waters and Gilmour. Both Londoners, and neither noted as singers, they approached vocal lines with a cockney vigour quite far removed from the more refined annunciations of Barrett (especially on such peculiarities of English psychedelia…

The Girl on the Train review, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds: as appealing as a British Rail sandwich 

Fleetingly glimpsed external locations become inseparable from internal turmoil. The prime object of her unreliable, reverie-embellished fascination – Megan, who lives a few doors down from Anna (the woman who stole her husband, “took” her life), goes missing, is found dead; who’s to say that Rachel, with her black-outs and mysterious bruises, isn’t the culprit?…

Effigies of Wickedness review, ENO, Gate Theatre: terrific idea, but where’s the danger?

Four characterful and accomplished singers – the classically trained baritone Peter Brathwaite (who originated the show’s concept) and mezzo-soprano Katie Bray, Edinburgh Fringe sensation Lucy McCormick and the amiably bearded drag queen Le Gateau Chocolat – are accompanied by a trio of excellent musicians. English National Opera co-produces and lends expertise. Snappy and snazzy English…

Lessons in Love and Violence review, Royal Opera: potent and beautiful account of Edward II’s downfall

Katie Mitchell has provided a cool, clean and meticulously choreographed staging that ignores the tale’s medieval roots and gives little indication of the changes of scene. Designed by Vicki Mortimer, its modern setting short-changes the elements of absolutist power and courtly rank that the text emphasises and leaves it slightly bloodless: Mitchell’s approach mesmerises, but…

The best two man tents

Whether you’re planning on backpacking this summer or fancy an impromptu camping trip, it’s important you have the right tent in your kit bag.  For a start, you’ll need to consider how many people you’ll be camping with, whether or not the tent is waterproof, and how much storage space you’ll require. «If you’re planning…

Aisha Badru performs single Splintered

Urban folk singer-songwriter Aisha Badru has gone from «inadvertently writing songs on a guitar in the solitude of a bedroom» to having her music appearing on car adverts and performing at the SXSW festival. Now she is showcasing the emotional power of her work with a performance of her song Splintered. In the song, which is…

test test test test

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Hayley Mckay premieres video for single Ghosted

With her infectious blend of pop melodies and country influences, Hayley McKay captured the audience’s imagination around the world. Now she is returning with the haunting ballad Ghosted, the latest single to be taken from her self-titled debut album. And you can watch the video for the song above. Although she hails from Darlington, McKay…

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, episode 8, review – a killer resolution is all this series needs

It all comes down to the sins of the father. That’s what the penultimate episode of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (BBC Two) seemed to suggest regarding Versace’s killer, Andrew Cunanan. The series started with Cunanan (Darren Criss) gunning down the designer on the steps of his Miami mansion in 1997. Over…

You can now buy beauty products on Farfetch

It was only a matter of time before Farfetch, which now has 400 global retail partners selling through the platform, branched out and launched a beauty category.  The site went live yesterday, and is now selling brands ranging from Algenist and By Terry to Sunday Riley and This Works, covering make-up, skincare, haircare, and men’s grooming…

Lipstick was chalk: beauty secrets from the era of black & white movies

Long before high definition make-up was even a thing, actresses were working their Oscar-winning looks with simple greasepaint and dark paint swashes across their eyes.  Even Max Factor, himself a well known film make-up artist admitted in 1914: «the effect was terrifying!» What looked beautiful on screen wasn’t quite so picturesque this side of the camera; heavy sticks of paint in…

Are the under 35s all going bare down there?

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Best of beauty at Cannes

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5 Best False Eyelashes

Not all fake eyelashes are created equal so if you want to beef out what you have naturally it’s worth knowing what’ll give you a believable ‘I grew these myself’ look and what will make your lashes look like a set of gorgeously fluttering butterfly wings. Here’s some of the best for all your lash…

30 beauty habits you should adopt in your 30s

Turns out that once you hit your thirties there’s a whole new set of beauty rules for our skin, hair, nails and well-being.  Thankfully however, your thirty-something beauty maintenance doesn’t mean a whole lot more time in the bathroom, more money on your hair and a private dermatologist on speed-dial to keep it all together, far from it….

How The Duchess survived hair humidity

“A great tip to battle humid hair and avoid the dreaded holiday frizz is to invest in a permanent blow dry.  It uses a solution of natural keratin and glycolic acid to reduce frizz by re-building the keratin in the hair semi-permanently. The permanent blow dry means you can keep your hair’s natural wave just…

Has Daenerys started a blonde movement?

The name Daenerys Targaryen has been on everyone’s lips since episode four of the latest series of Game of Thrones aired last night (which is particularly unfortunate if you don’t actually watch the show, therefore have absolutely no idea how it is pronounced.) As Emilia Clarke’s character provoked in-fighting among fans (is she fire-proof or…

Are one-step wonder city sunblocks the only make-up you need? 

I‘ll admit it, I haven’t always been religious about wearing SPF (I know what you’re thinking, and yes I have the sun damage as payback, as beautifully photographed presented on screen by derm yesterday. That is until now.  You see, as someone with combination to oily skin with a penchant for foundation, an extra layer of…

Lenny Henry: Commonwealth Kid — a heartrending look at Henry’s past and the Commonwealth’s future, review

Lenny Henry has made comic capital out of his heritage throughout his career, never flinching from addressing moronic racism or societal hypocrisy along the way. Lenny Henry: Commonwealth Kid (BBC One) showed the more serious side that we’ve seen in documentaries and his charming semi-autobiographical drama, Danny and the Human Zoo, as he returned to…

Folk’s new star? Nick Drake’s gifted mother

The poignant parallels between Molly Drake are her tragic son are only now being fully appreciated. Neil McCormick reports Nick Drake will be posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame at the BBC Folk Awards next week. His is one of the strangest stories in popular music: a shy, sensitive singer-songwriter whose three albums of…

Damien Hirst can still surprise us — Houghton Hall, review

Damien Hirst’s career can be viewed as a series of disasters, each bringing greater success than the last. In 2009, for instance, the man who, 18 years previously, had turned art on its head by exhibiting a shark in formaldehyde, decided to switch to figurative painting, with a series of Francis Bacon-inspired skull canvases that…

Courteeners review, Royal Albert Hall: celebratory chaos for the plucky Mancunians who show precisely why rock ‘n’ roll refuses to die

The crowd were evidently in the mood. I have never seen such a (shall we say) well-lubricated audience at the Royal Albert Hall. They were singing lustily along before the band even took to the stage, bellowing out What’s the Story (Morning Glory) by Oasis and chanting “Leeeee-Amm! Leeee-Amm!” The object of their veneration, oddly,…

The Last Ship review, Northern Stage, Newcastle — a successful launch for Sting’s debut musical 

Frances McNamee, who plays Meg beautifully both in song and performance, shines among a generally excellent cast. Richard Fleeshman (Gideon) also has a fine voice, but, disconcertingly, he has affected a husky, mid-Atlantic, half-whispering singing style that sounds like a deliberate imitation of Sting himself. The romantic sub-plot is typical of the surprisingly conventional approach…

6 of the best outdoor pressure washers

Time for a spring spruce up? Allow us to suggest the very best jet washers for 2018 to get your car and patio looking spick and span. The best power washers can be used to clean a variety of items and surfaces including barbecues, decking, stone walls and vehicles, as well as garden patios. That said,…

Dave Berry to host Absolute Radio breakfast show

Dave Berry is the new host of the Absolute Radio Breakfast show. The 39-year-old television and radio personality is set to front the show as a replacement for Christian O’Connell, who is leaving the show after 12 years at the station. Berry said: «I am overjoyed to have been offered the opportunity to host Breakfast…

Frankenstein review, Manchester Royal Exchange — a memorable monster at the heart of an oak-solid adaptation 

“From day one, I was convinced that the creature needed to be terrifying, but also have the capacity to break the hearts of the audience,” the designer Ben Stones explains in the programme notes for the Royal Exchange’s new staging of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which coincides with the 200th anniversary of the novel’s publication. “I…

Brief Encounter review, Empire Cinema, Haymarket — terrific staging of a great British weepie 

Are the pair a match for Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson? Well, actually, almost but it’s the overall experience that counts. Providing jaunty live-performed music (inspired by the Coward back-catalogue) the surrounding ensemble ensure the focus remains on the clipped-voiced lovebirds but provide light-relief and nifty class-contrasts too. Lucy Thackeray is a hoot as the…

Ian Cheng / Sondra Perry review, Serpentine Gallery — digital art that actually has something to say

The 33-year-old, New York-based Ian Cheng trained in cognitive behavioural science, before working in special effects for Star Wars creator George Lucas – it’s a combination of elements that sets the tone for BOB, the “artificial life form” who inhabits the six multi-screen simulations in his exhibition. On the one hand, this hyper-active, multi-headed, endlessly…

Summer and Smoke review, Almeida — Patsy Ferran is unbearably good in this unmissable Tennessee Williams revival

Ferran’s waif-life figure suggests a vital life-force trapped within turn-of-the-century primness. Her restless hand-movements combine a comic eagerness to please with the agony of the unsatiated; her darting eyes miss nothing, pleadingly communicate too, while her eyebrows have their own personality.  Her Alma is endearing, infuriating, klutzy, clever – doomed not so much by the…

Gutsy dancing and a poetic centrepiece — Ballet British Columbia, Sadler’s Wells and touring, review

The first half is a complex and constantly inventive interweaving of extraordinary, high-octane leaps and turns and complex, sociable little encounters, all delivered with great brio. But it’s the second that makes the skin prickle. Here, Pite delves deep into her distinctive box of choreographic tricks, often having the seven dancers engage in instant, freeze-frame…

 A Fantastic Woman review: ‘truly trailblazing’ Chilean film makes an indelible impression

A Fantastic Woman (15 cert, 104 min) Dir: Sebastián Lelio Cast: Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes, Luis Gnecco, Aline Küppenheim The Oscars missed the chance for a truly trail-blazing nomination this year, when Daniela Vega didn’t make it onto the Best Actress list for her fiercely believable performance in A Fantastic Woman. OK, it’s a Chilean…

The perfect antidote to a cold winter’s evening — A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ENO, London Coliseum, review 

Given the arctic conditions outside, a midsummer night certainly seemed like a dream, lending this performance of Britten’s enchanting opera special warmth and allure. A large audience drank it all in with rapt attention, pleasure and enthusiasm – how encouraging to realise that this marvellous music has finally come good at the box office. For…

 A delightful and colour-blind new take on Mozart — The Marriage of Figaro, English Touring Opera, Hackney Empire, review

Perhaps the first thing to get out of the way is that the cast for English Touring Opera’s delightful new production of Mozart’s great comedy contains an unusually high number of singers with dark-toned or olive skins. This fact was not exploited to make any particular point about the opera’s ideology – the setting was…

Bestselling author Penny Vincenzi dies aged 78

Penny Vincenzi, the bestselling author of 17 blockbuster novels, died on Sunday afternoon at the age of 78, her daughters have confirmed. Polly Harding, Sophie Cornish, Emily Gunnis and Claudia Vincenzi said: «We are incredibly touched and overwhelmed by the tributes to Penny from the industry and her readers.» They praised her for her encouragement and support, and…

Sepulchral, stiff and a bit of a downer — Murillo: the self portraits, National Gallery, review 

An exhibition of Murillo’s high-spirited ragamuffins, then, would be a wonderful thing, but his portraiture?  Let’s be honest: the new show at the National Gallery is no crowd-pleaser. Upon entering, we see a monotonous row of remote-looking, half-length male portraits, set in niches within strangely artificial simulacra of stonework, some plain, others embellished with cherubs,…

Ciaran Lavery performs To Chicago in an intimate music session

It’s not very often that you hear someone singing about parking tickets and street lights in a romantic way. But that is exactly what Northern Irish singer-songwriter Ciaran Lavery does on his fun Windy City-inspired ballad, To Chicago. The track, which is performed in an exclusive music session above, begins with the lines, “I love…

Witty, bittersweet, tentative attempt to dramatise Princess Margaret’s life — A Princess Undone, Park Theatre, London N4, review

“She shows up without warning, popping her head around the door of every other memoir, biography and diary written in the second half of the twentieth century,” Craig Brown observes in his introduction to “Ma’am Darling”, his wonderfully gossipy and waspishly insightful “99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret”, published last year. “Everyone seems to have met…

Mid Wales Opera’s Eugene Onegin is a sterling effort — review 

Touring opera round smaller venues outside metropolitan areas is a heroic adventure – some might say a fool’s one too – and Mid Wales Opera deserves medals for its continuing efforts on this front. Over the years I’ve admired and enjoyed its marvellously fresh and zippy stagings of Falstaff, Albert Herring, The Tales of Hoffmann (among…

Bollywood’s ‘first female superstar’ Sridevi Kapoor dies, aged 54

Indian actress Sridevi, arguably Bollywood’s first female superstar, died in Dubai after cardiac arrest, media reported on Sunday, aged 54. Sridevi is survived by her husband – producer Boney Kapoor – and daughters Jhanvi and Khushi. She was in Dubai to attend a family wedding and died late on Saturday. In a career spanning five decades, Sridevi acted…

 Death-row drama with more breast-beating than psychological insight — Dead Man Walking, Barbican, review 

At one level, this event represents another nail driven into the coffin of the canard that modern operas are horrible esoteric affairs that nobody wants to hear. Ever since its premiere in 2000, Jake Heggie’s adaptation of Sister Helen Prejean’s experiences ministering to condemned men on Death Row has enjoyed immense global success – and…

Mark Dion: scientific stuff, yet strangely vague, review

American artist Mark Dion comes across as a sort of David Attenborough of conceptual art in the breathless opening text of his biggest British exhibition to date: an “explorer, collector and activist” who reveals “the wonder, fragility and barbarity of life on earth”.  Dion is one of a prominent breed of artist – Olafur Eliasson…

Leveson 2 would be a threat to a free press

The House of Lords voted on Wednesday to require the Government to establish a new public inquiry into the press. Why? It is true that David Cameron when Prime Minister envisaged that the procedure chaired by Lord Justice Leveson should be in two stages, but the first inquiry was so comprehensive that there seems no…

The Bookshop, Berlin Film Festival, review — An English village with a tiresome identity crisis

Cert TBC, 113 min. Dir: Isabel Coixet. Cast: Emily Mortimer, Bill Nighy, Patricia Clarkson, James Lance, Frances Barber Published in 1978 and shortlisted for the Booker, The Bookshop is a slim, beguiling novel by the underrated Penelope Fitzgerald, and one whose credentials as the basis for a low-key period drama are all there in her twinkling,…

Powerful indictment of the modern-day desire to medicate — The Almighty Sometimes, Manchester Royal Exchange, review

“I was 18 years old when I swallowed my first antidepressant,” runs the opening line of Lost Connections, Johann Hari’s riveting new book on anxiety and depression – and critique of pharmaceutical-driven solutions. In Kendall Feaver’s equally impressive debut play, the protagonist, Anna, is also 18, but has been taking pills since she was 11,…

Hilarious and engaging tale of a comedy club in Jenin — Showtime From The Frontline, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, review

Have you heard the one about the left-wing, English comedian who went to a refugee camp in the Palestinian Occupied Territories and set up a comedy club? Mark Thomas, Faisal Abualheja and Alaa Shehada have. Showtime From The Frontline, the trio’s new UK touring production, is a spin-off from a comedy class and club night…

Watch Giuseppe Verdi’s La traviata opera trailer from the ENO

With a title that literally translates as “The Fallen Woman”, La traviata combines drama and wonderful melodies to tell a searing emotional story. And with its immediately moving score, Verdi’s masterpiece is, by some measures, the most performed opera in the world. Based on La Dame aux Camélias, a play adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas, it tells the story…

A modern classic brought joyfully and chillingly to life — The Winter’s Tale, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, review

In fact, there’s strength across the board here. Throughout the evening, Matthew Ball displays considerable authority as the ever-present Polixenes. In Act II, as Brother Clown, first soloist Marcelino Sambé’s comic brio and gravity-scorning bounce surely nudge him ever closer to the principals’ ranks, with Beatriz Stix-Brunel a very pretty shepherdess and an appropriately zesty…

Martin Kohlstedt turns anguish into an art form at Servant Jazz Quarters, plus……all the best jazz and folk concerts of 2018

Martin Kohlstedt turns anguish into an art form at Servant Jazz Quarters ★★★★☆ By Ivan Hewett German composer and pianist Martin Kohlstedt has been making waves on the alternative music scene in Germany for some years, firstly with German electronica bands, latterly with his solo piano albums. This gig in the tiny basement space of Servant Jazz…

A crucial figure in British theatre bids us a bold farewell — The Captive Queen, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Globe, review 

In 1992, actor Barrie Rutter formed Northern Broadsides with a mission to produce Shakespeare and others within a resolutely flat-vowelled, non-velvet framework. At the time, this move away from the confines of RP was seen as an act of chutzpah and in 2018, as fewer working-class actors feel able to enter the profession, Rutter’s work…

Technical hitches and soaring pop — MGMT, Electric Brixton, review

Ten years ago, the Technicolor thrill of Connecticut electro indie duo MGMT was the soundtrack to every festival’s hazy, rain-soaked final thrust. The melodic hits of their 2007 debut, Oracular Spectacular, saw them hailed as the future of rock, but they never fulfilled that promise; their two succeeding albums shifted towards an eccentric, insular sound…

Jeremy Irons almost triumphs in this skewering of the American Dream — Long Day’s Journey into Night, Wyndham’s Theatre, review

It ranks alongside Death of a Salesman (which appeared seven years earlier, in 1949) as one of the 20th century’s defining dramas of American dreams and disappointments, but whereas Miller accentuates the societal causes of human unhappiness, O’Neill forges a deeper, tragic sense of handed-on misery, an inescapable inheritance. Of the doomed younger generation, Irish…

Peyton performs Jericho in intimate music session

When Peyton auditioned for The X Factor UK in 2016, he was at a crossroads — and not for the first time — so he wanted to shake things up. In fact, he was looking to break down some barriers (or walls, if you will). He is now continuing what he started then, with his new album,…

British hacker Lauri Love wins fight against extradition to US

British hacker Lauri Love has won his legal battle after fearing he would be extradited to the US. The judge scolded the audience after there were claps and cheers when the court of appeals ruled on Monday morning that he will not be extradited. If found guilty of the US charges, filed against Love in New…

Laverne Cox leads fans in #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay during Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl show

Janet Jackson fans declared Sunday #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay on Twitter, when Justin Timberlake appeared at the Super Bowl half-time show – 14 years after Jackson was banned for a «wardrobe malfunction» during their joint appearance.  When Timberlake and Jackson appeared together in 2004, Justin was supposed to rip off Janet’s top to reveal a racy red lace bra, but the…

Un Ballo in Maschera, Opera North/Grand Theatre Leeds, review — an imaginative take on Verdi’s intense tale of love and loyalty

There is good work elsewhere too: as Anckarström, Philip Rhodes warms up after a slow start to deliver a sterling Eri tu; Patricia Bardon is an imposing Ulrica (operating out of a sleazy cabaret dive) and Teresa Gevorgyan is an engagingly boyish Oscar. What lifts the evening, however, is Richard Farnes’ conducting. Opera North’s former…

Brave but doomed attempt to illuminate a bleak masterpiece — Journeys with The Waste Land, Turner Contemporary, Margate

The Waste Land was the poem that blasted English Literature into the 20th century, replacing the static view of the single subject with fragmentary structures and multiple poetic voices in the devastated aftermath of World War One. Powered by an irresistible rhythmic drive, but cutting bewilderingly through time and space, this world-changing 434-line epic was…

An exuberant evening with the BBC SSO in Glasgow City Halls, review

Tippet, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Glasgow City Hall ★★★★☆ A new, undiscovered symphony by Tippett? Well, yes and no. The early Symphony in B flat – with which the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and conductor Martyn Brabbins cleverly rounded off what’s been a powerful cycle of Tippett’s four conventionally numbered symphonies – has a complicated…

Andy Gunn performs Warm Heart Blue in music session

BB King once said that “the blues is whatever ails you” — and those words could have been said about guitarist Andy Gunn. Hailed as one of Scotland’s leading blues musicians, with comparisons to Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix, Gunn has had a life full of ups and downs, to put it mildly. But these experiences have…

Late poet Helen Dunmore wins Costa Book Award 

Inside the Wave by Helen Dunmore has been named the winner of the 2017 Costa Book of the Year, seven months after the author’s death.  Dunmore’s tenth poetry collection explores the borderline between human life and the underworld and includes her final poem, Hold Out Your Arms, which the 64-year-old penned shortly before she died…

Roars of approval for Black Panther premiere 

Black Panther, one of the most highly-awaited comic book movies ever, has finally hit the screens — and people are seriously excited.   As the first black superhero in mainstream American comics, it was always going to be a big deal with Black Panther — also known as T’Challa — got a standalone film, and the reaction to…

‘Moonlight’ writer serves up a quirky but lightweight drama — The Brothers Size, Young Vic, review 

Really? That’s out of all proportion, I feel, to the merits of this quirky, charming, light-on-its-feet but also faintly lightweight drama about two African-American brothers reunited after the younger comes out of prison on parole only for their tense sibling relationship to come under further strain.  Although the setting is Louisiana, the character names and…

Woody Allen’s next film may not be released at all

Rumours are swirling that Woody Allen’s latest film, A Rainy Day In New York, will not secure a theatrical release as former collaborators line up to condemn the filmmaker due to allegations of sexual abuse.  Allen has been dogged by claims that he sexually assaulted his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow when she was seven. Farrow first…

An earnest, shocking, rewarding chronicle of a cultural revolution — Rhythm & Reaction, review

Jazz hit these shores a century ago, giving Britain its first taste of what we now think of as “cultural diversity”, challenging the sedate shuffle of the Edwardian ballroom with hot, syncopated African-American rhythm. It’s instructive, even chastening, then, to survey the first room of this intriguing exhibition on the cultural impact of jazz in…

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