wed 06/05/2015, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

Maya Plisetskaya, 1925-2015

Ismene Brown

The great Russian ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, renowned for her deathless Dying Swan and a performing career that lasted more than 60 years, died suddenly of a heart attack at home...

The Audience, Apollo Theatre

Marianka Swain

As The Queen gains an audience with the latest royal addition, her theatrical alter ego returns to the West End, with Kristin Scott Thomas inheriting Tony-nominated Helen Mirren’s...

No Offence, Channel 4

Barney Harsent

There’s been much hullabaloo surrounding the new series from Paul Abbott – and with good reason. It’s a decade since we’ve seen any TV from the creator of State of Play and...

On Liberty, hosted by Shami Chakrabarti, Brighton Dome

Thomas H Green

Shami Chakrabarti pointed out early on that she is “grim and worthy” and that stand-up is not her strong suit. Despite this, svelte, petite and wearing a sharp back outfit, she...

Antonacci, ROHO, Pappano, Royal Opera House

David Nice

Few conductors would think of putting Bernstein’s comic-sexy Fancy Free ballet and the orgasmatron of Scriabin’s The Poem of Ecstasy together in a concert's second half. In fact I...

Beyond Caring, National Theatre

Aleks Sierz

Recent plays with the verb “to care” in their titles – another is Michael Wynne’s Who Cares – suggests that the inequalities of life in Britain today can no longer be...

Stray Dogs

Tom Birchenough

Whatever you make of Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang’s Stray Dogs (Jiao you), it’ll likely have you looking at your watch...

Brighton Festival: Lungs, Roundabout at Regency Square

Veronica Lee

A couple stand on the stage, squaring up to each other. They are in the middle of an argument. The Man has just, out of the...

The C Word, BBC One / Home Fires, ITV

Adam Sweeting

Perhaps only Sheridan Smith could have played the role of Lisa Lynch in The C Word [***], not just because of the no-messing...

Hannigan, Britten Sinfonia, WRCH Cambridge

Sebastian Scotney

“Songs of Vienna” by the Britten Sinfonia turned out to be a concert of chamber works, with never more than six performers...

Dalibor, BBCSO, Bělohlávek, Barbican

Gavin Dixon

Jiří Bělohlávek and the BBC Symphony Orchestra are on to a good thing with Czech opera. Prague is a major centre for world-...

The Virtues of Things, Linbury Studio Theatre

Alexandra Coghlan

How many words would you expect in an average libretto? 10,000? 15,000? Whatever that number is you can triple it and then...

The Warlocks, Rainbow, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

The Warlocks are a psychedelic band from LA who dress not unlike the Velvet Underground in their prime and are clearly not...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Eurovision 2015

Kieron Tyler

 Various Artists: Building Bridges - Eurovision Song Contest Vienna 2015Mind-bogglingly, Australia is a first-time...

Król Roger, Royal Opera

Alexandra Coghlan

Let’s get one thing straight at the outset: Szymanowski’s 1926 opera Król Roger isn’t a lovely occasional oddity, a rarity...

theartsdesk Q&A: Musician Peter Perrett

Thomas H Green

Peter Perrett (b. 1952) is best known as the singer and songwriter of The Only Ones, a group who originally flared to...

Cornelius Johnson, National Portrait Gallery

Florence Hallett

It’s far too easy to think about the history of art as a series of class acts, with one superlative achievement following...

Anzac Girls, More4

Adam Sweeting

For Australians and New Zealanders, the grim meat-grinder of the Gallipoli campaign in 1915 was their equivalent of the...

Classical CDs Weekly: Lutosławski, Szymanowski, Jórunn Viðar, The Revolutionary Drawing Room

Graham Rickson

Lutosławski: Concerto for Orchestra, Szymanowski: Three Fragments from Poems by Jan Kasprowicz Polish National Radio...

Far From the Madding Crowd

Adam Sweeting

The arrival of Thomas Vinterberg's new treatment of Thomas Hardy's novel has triggered a retro-wallow in John Schlesinger's...

The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare's Globe

Alexandra Coghlan

There’s a certainty, a reassurance that comes with attending a Globe show. You know that however bad things get, however...

SCO, Swensen, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

Christopher Lambton

It was as a violin soloist with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra that Joseph Swensen first appeared, in the mid-1980s, on the...

The Game, BBC Two

Tom Birchenough

Rum old business, espionage – at least in the way we Brits are still pursuing it. For all the reality that the existential...

Game of Thrones: Episodes 2 & 3

Stuart Houghton

The typical episode of the Game of Thrones TV show has been memorably compared to Twitter: there are 140 characters and...


DVD: TURNED TOWARDS THE SUN An extraordinary 20th-century life recalled in age

ON LIBERTY, HOSTED BY SHAMI CHAKRABARTI, BRIGHTON DOME A literary line-up honour the British human rights institution

ANTONACCI, ROHO, PAPPANO, ROYAL OPERA HOUSE Nothing deep, but plenty of glitter as the Covent Garden pit band hits the stage

BEYOND CARING, NATIONAL THEATRE New play about zero-hour contracts is powerfully authentic, but depressingly unentertaining

disc of the day

CD: Chungking - Defender

Welcome comeback from absentee south coast contenders

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We Made It

We Made It: Candle Maker Ted Thompson

From Cumbria to the Globe, it's Ted's beeswax

We Made It: Digital Knitters Knyttan

Digital technology and craft principles creating one-off designs

We Made It: Art & Makers Collective Garudio Studiage

Meet the makers of objets de pop art in the heart of London


No Offence, Channel 4

Paul Abbott’s much-anticipated return hit our screens and landed some good punches

The C Word, BBC One / Home Fires, ITV

Sheridan Smith pulls out the stops as cancer sufferer Lisa Lynch

Anzac Girls, More4

Australian nurses-at-war drama lacks gravitas (and a decent budget)


Stray Dogs

Mesmerizing or self-indulgent? Verdicts will be out on latest Taiwanese auteur fare

DVD: Turned Towards the Sun

An extraordinary 20th-century life recalled in age

Far From the Madding Crowd

Superb interpretation of Thomas Hardy's novel by Thomas Vinterberg

new music

CD: Chungking - Defender

Welcome comeback from absentee south coast contenders

CD: Joe Stilgoe – New Songs for Old Souls

Stilgoe's gorgeous brassy arrangements will help you forget be-bop ever happened

The Warlocks, Rainbow, Birmingham

LA six-piece lay down some dark psychedelia


Antonacci, ROHO, Pappano, Royal Opera House

Nothing deep, but plenty of glitter as the Covent Garden pit band hits the stage

Hannigan, Britten Sinfonia, WRCH Cambridge

An evening which needed stronger works and more convincing playing

Classical CDs Weekly: Lutosławski, Szymanowski, Jórunn Viðar, The Revolutionary Drawing Room

Orchestral music from Poland and Iceland, and Viennese classical string quartets


Dalibor, BBCSO, Bělohlávek, Barbican

Superior performance makes a compelling case for Smetana’s neglected masterpiece

The Virtues of Things, Linbury Studio Theatre

Too much talk and not enough song

Król Roger, Royal Opera

A triumphant return to the stage for Szymanowski's neglected score


The Audience, Apollo Theatre

Kristin Scott Thomas is a worthy successor in Morgan's rejigged revival

Beyond Caring, National Theatre

New play about zero-hour contracts is powerfully authentic, but depressingly unentertaining

Brighton Festival: Lungs, Roundabout at Regency Square

Thrilling two-hander about a disintegrating relationship

visual arts

Cornelius Johnson, National Portrait Gallery

A forgotten artist eclipsed by Van Dyck as portrait painter to Charles I

John Wood and Paul Harrison, Carroll/Fletcher

The Laurel and Hardy of the art world venture from comedy to failed utopian dreams

Sonia Delaunay, Tate Modern

Eclipsed by her painter husband, the artist is finally receiving full recognition


Maya Plisetskaya, 1925-2015

The Bolshoi's deathless über-ballerina is no more

Ahnen, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Sadler's Wells

Family lore and deep-seated fears explored with surprising humour, and a technical glitch

BBC Young Dancer 2015, BBC Four

Impressive talents in remarkably gimmick-free Beeb competition


Panti: High Heels in Low Places, Soho Theatre

Drag artist tells her charming and funny story

James Freedman: Man of Steal, Menier Chocolate Factory

The art of pickpocketing explained, plus some corny patter

The Pub Landlord, Touring

Al Murray on terrific form with his appalling creation


Game of Thrones: Episodes 2 & 3

A workmanlike second helping but things are looking up in episode three

The Quest Keeper

Keep on movin' in this endless runner, roguelike and more mash-up

Mortal Kombat X

Blood, gore and violence – fun beat 'em up action, but not for the faint-hearted


Listed: The Very Best of 2015
theartsdesk's writers recommend the one thing above all to look forward to in each art form
Listed: The Facts about Factual TV in 2014
This year's documentaries climbed high and swung low on Britain's social ladder
Listed: Science Fiction in Videogames
Nearly all videogames are fantastical, but few are interestingly fantastical

latest comments

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