sat 06/02/2016, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

Battlefield, Young Vic Theatre

Aleks Sierz

Legendary director Peter Brook makes theatre that teaches audiences to be human. Now 90 years old, he brings his latest project to London from Paris, where he has been based at...

The Winter's Tale, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Alexandra Coghlan

For a play about silence – its uncanny ability to tell the truth, to “persuade when speaking fails” – The Winter’s Tale is remarkably wordy. Of the sequence of late romances only...

The Devil Inside, Peacock Theatre

David Nice

"I wish I had money," exclaims the weak-willed hero of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress and, hey presto, the devil appears to strike a deal. Auden and Kallman didn't have the last...

Rabbit Hole, Hampstead Theatre

Marianka Swain

The death of a child is an unnatural loss. There’s no reassurance that the departed lived a full life, rather the jagged edge of one cut short. In the case of Becca and Howie, it’...

Cats v Dogs, BBC Two

Marina Vaizey

This slightly ludicrous programme is really a chance to see a charming range of dogs and cats, based on an assumption that by comparing cats and dogs we humans can decide which...

Reeves & Mortimer, Leicester De Montfort Hall

Veronica Lee

Even if the evening had turned out to be rubbish, there was always going to be a warm welcome for Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer's return to live performance with 25 Years of...

DVD: Bill

Graham Rickson

The jokes come thick and fast in this debut feature from the team behind the BBC’s Horrible Histories. Released theatrically...

The Master Builder, Old Vic

David Nice

Demons, trolls and dead souls have a habit of latching onto Ibsen's bourgeois Norwegians. Surely the best way for actors to...

White smoke at the CBSO: Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla for Music Director

Richard Bratby

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra's appointment of the Lithuanian conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla as its new Music...

CD: Snarky Puppy - Family Dinner Volume Two

Peter Quinn

With everything they touch seemingly transforming into artistic gold, shapeshifting US collective Snarky Puppy are currently...

Camila's Kids Company: The Inside Story, BBC One

Adam Sweeting

In 2005, Lynn Alleway made a film about Kids' Company founder Camila Batmanghelidjh called Tough Kids – Tough Love. In June...

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, National Theatre

Matt Wolf

"One... Two... You know what to do": that coolly delivered rehearsal intro from a trombonist called Cutler (Clint Dyer)...

Kraggerud, Gimse, Wigmore Hall

Gavin Dixon

All three Grieg violin sonatas in a single recital may seem like too much of a good thing. The similarities between them...

Red Velvet, Garrick Theatre

Marianka Swain

Lolita Chakrabarti’s impassioned debut has only gained topicality since its 2012 Tricycle incarnation. Trevor Nunn’s all-...

CD: Elton John - Wonderful Crazy Night

Guy Oddy

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since Elton John famously jumped onstage at a 1973 Stooges gig in Atlanta dressed...

L'Étoile, Royal Opera

David Nice

Why have all attempts to make French comic opera funny to British audiences fallen so flat, at least since ENO's 1980s...

Rise of the Superstar Vloggers, BBC Three

Jasper Rees

This debate about the future of the BBC might be missing the point. In the black corner scowls the Dark Lord of Swingeing...

DVD: 99 Homes

Tom Birchenough

The opening scene of Ramin Bahrani’s 99 Homes plunges us into the darker depths of American society, post-2008 financial...

Benedetti, CBSO, Shani, Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden

Gavin Dixon

With Andris Nelsons now moved to pastures new, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is without a chief conductor, so...

Jeepers Creepers, Leicester Square Theatre

Veronica Lee

You might think that the combination of a play about one of the funniest comics of the second half of the 20th century,...

CD: Sidestepper – Supernatural Love

Mark Kidel

Sidestepper have been ploughing the rich ground of "electro-cumbia" for some years now. Their appealing contribution to the...

Painting the Modern Garden, Royal Academy

Marina Vaizey

Painting the Modern Garden explores the interstices between nature and ourselves as revealed in the cultivation of gardens,...

Green Mass, LPO, Jurowski, RFH

Peter Quantrill

In recent performances of the First Symphony under Markus Stenz and the Seventh under Jaap van Zweden, the LPO have...

Reissue CDs Weekly: African Head Charge

Kieron Tyler

Of all the idiosyncratic artists coming through the door opened by punk, Adrian Sherwood remains one of the most singular....


DVD: 99 HOURS Visceral anger at social process drives powerful state-of-the-US film

CD: ELTON JOHN - WONDERFUL CRAZY NIGHT Elton’s crazy night feels more like a quiet evening in

CAMILA'S KIDS COMPANY: THE INSIDE STORY, BBC ONE Lynn Alleway's documentary gets up close and personal, but reveals little 

MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM, NATIONAL THEATRE August Wilson's Broadway debut dazzles anew

THE ARTS DESK Q&A: DIRECTOR MICHAEL LONGHURST The stellar young theatremaker who is suddenly everywhere

disc of the day

DVD: Bill

An irreverent Shakespearean romp, not just for kids

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We Made It

We Made It: 'The Revenant' Production Designer Jack Fisk

How he stunningly recreated the authentic American frontier of 1823

We Made It: Double Bass Maker Laurence Dixon

Love at first sight, a six-day week and the satisfaction of a job well done

We Made It: The Electric Recording Company

Pete Hutchison's quest for musical perfection on vinyl


Cats v Dogs, BBC Two

Which is faster, cleverer and stronger? And do our pets really love us?

Camila's Kids Company: The Inside Story, BBC One

Lynn Alleway's documentary gets up close and personal, but reveals little

Rise of the Superstar Vloggers, BBC Three

Don't look now, but TV is dead: scary primer on the frontline of new media


DVD: Bill

An irreverent Shakespearean romp, not just for kids

Six of the best: Film

theartsdesk recommends the half-dozen top movies out now

DVD: 99 Homes

Visceral anger at social process drives powerful state-of-the-US film

new music

CD: Snarky Puppy - Family Dinner Volume Two

US collective delivers another appetizing smorgasbord of songs

CD: Elton John - Wonderful Crazy Night

Elton’s crazy night feels more like a quiet evening in

CD: Sidestepper – Supernatural Love

The latest from the electro-cumbia pioneers


White smoke at the CBSO: Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla for Music Director

29-year-old Lithuanian conductor follows Andris Nelsons in Birmingham

Kraggerud, Gimse, Wigmore Hall

Grieg’s bold Nordic spirit conveyed, but often at the expense of his charm

Benedetti, CBSO, Shani, Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden

Young conductor leads dynamic and detailed Haydn, Szymanowski and Dvořák


The Devil Inside, Peacock Theatre

Compelling new Faustian-pact opera is small in scale but big on ideas

L'Étoile, Royal Opera

Chabrier's pretty music for an absurdist comedy needs more sparkle

Alder, Hulett, Classical Opera, Page, Wigmore Hall

Second year of 'Mozart 250' places the boy wonder among the grown-ups of 1766


Battlefield, Young Vic Theatre

Peter Brook revisits The Mahabharata with a perfection that ultimately feels chilly

The Winter's Tale, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Shakespeare's tale is told quietly here but with tremendous charm and impact

Rabbit Hole, Hampstead Theatre

David Lindsay-Abaire's examination of grief is smart and sincere, but too studied

visual arts

Painting the Modern Garden, Royal Academy

Monet triumphs in a celebration of nature tamed

Saul Leiter, Photographers' Gallery

The pioneer of colour photography you have yet to hear of

100 Works of Art That Will Define Our Age

The book's author on why predicting the future isn't quite as risky as it seems


The Return, Circa, Barbican

Exile-themed circus show is rather too serious

Rhapsody/The Two Pigeons, Royal Ballet

Too much sugar in Ashton double bill

Le Corsaire, English National Ballet, Coliseum

Spectacular dance fireworks make this hoariest and silliest of Russian classics worth seeing


Reeves & Mortimer, Leicester De Montfort Hall

The gloriously daft duo return

Dave Gorman, Touring

Likeable comic points out life's inanities

Eddie Izzard, Palace Theatre

Surreal comic kicks off his West End run


Life Is Strange Limited Edition

Acclaimed graphic adventure episodes finally gets the boxset treatment

Best of 2015: Games

Action replay! We select the top titles from a vintage year in games

Just Cause 3/Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege

An exotic carnival of chaos and destruction; and an edge-of-seat shooter calling for strategy and teamwork


Listed: Forget the Force
Star Wars wasn't the only groundbreaking film of 1977. We identify some others
The 11 Best Gigs on Film (after Stop Making Sense)
As Talking Heads' masterpiece is restored on disc, we hail the great screen concerts
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