sat 31/01/2015, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

theartsdesk Q&A: Actress Liz Fraser

Graham Fuller

One of the tacit jokes in John and Roy Boulting’s I’m All Right, Jack concerns the parentage of Liz Fraser’s Cynthia. How could the comically lugubrious communist shop steward...

Kraftwerk: Pop Art, BBC Four

Barney Harsent

Some documentaries can feel like trying to view a desert landscape through a telescope. The need for tight focus on too large a subject can leave you constantly aware that there’s...

Jessie J, Eventim Apollo

Matthew Wright

The echoes of last summer’s number one hit “Bang Bang” had hardly faded when Jessie J’s third album Sweet Talker was released to a largely positive reception last October. She’s...

Fortitude, Sky Atlantic

Adam Sweeting

If you can't beat 'em, steal brazenly from 'em. Instead of importing another Scandinavian drama series and slapping on some subtitles, or recycling Fargo or Breaking Bad (or for...

Timeshift: Battle for the Himalayas, BBC Four

Jasper Rees

When people talk about the Heroic Age of exploration, the heroes are generally agreed to be the explorers. But we’d know a great deal less about Edwardian chaps pluckily...


Matt Wolf

The director Stephen Daldry has always worked beautifully with young actors, whether on film or stage, so it's not difficult to see what might have drawn him to Trash, the Richard...

Di and Viv and Rose, Vaudeville Theatre

Marianka Swain

Is there any bond more powerful than shared history? If life is the sum total of our experiences, then those who experienced...

Florian Boesch, Roger Vignoles, Wigmore Hall

Alexandra Coghlan

Ernst Krenek is probably best remembered nowadays as the composer of Jonny Spielt Auf – the quintessential Zeitoper of...

Grim Fandango Remastered

Simon Munk

The recent glut of reboots, remasters and HD updates for classic videogames is not a sign of a fatigued industry, out of...

The Hard Problem, National Theatre

Matt Wolf

Here's the genuine hard problem facing commentators confronted with Tom Stoppard's new play of the same name: how do you...

Onegin, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

The habit among ballet critics of being simultaneously down on John Cranko's 1965 Onegin and up on Kenneth MacMillan's 1974...

Hannigan, LPO, Jurowski, Festival Hall

Geoff Brown

Barbara Hannigan, we all know, is game for anything. This Canadian soprano with the pearliest tones and the dramatic...

The Ruling Class, Trafalgar Studios

Demetrios Matheou

Now that the national self-delusion of the classless society has been laid to rest by the double whammy of economic crisis...

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Veronica Lee

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the saying goes – and Kingsman: The Secret Service is a cracking part-...

Inherent Vice

Nick Hasted

Thomas Pynchon and PT Anderson: too good to be true? News that the director of There Will Be Blood and The Master was...

Dara, National Theatre

Aleks Sierz

The history play has roots that go deep into our culture. We love to see stories that are kitted out in fancy dress, and...

Touched by Auschwitz, BBC Two

Tom Birchenough

There’s been a pronounced sense of finality at this year’s 70th anniversary commemoration of the 1945 liberation of...

Hello/Goodbye, Hampstead Theatre

Marianka Swain

If the London property boom continues post-election, the fight for living space may well develop into all-out war. But what...

Richard Alston Dance Company 20th Anniversary Performances, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Testament to the work of Richard Alston Dance Company (RADC) over the 20 years since its foundation was not just the...

Taken at Midnight, Theatre Royal Haymarket

Heather Neill

The mother, so often a sentimental figure in art, can be as tenacious and bold as any animal when protecting her young. Mark...

Ghostpoet, Village Underground

Katie Colombus

Ghostpoet – aka Obaro Ejimiwe – released his first album Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam in 2010. He has since been...

Glasgow International Comedy Festival 2015 launch

Veronica Lee

The Glasgow International Comedy Festival was launched last night (the day after Burns Night) at the Leicester Square...

Big Hero 6

Emma Simmonds

Following the critical and commercial hits Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen, Disney's latest is a film which will win you over with...

Blind Date, Jermyn Street Theatre

Marianka Swain

Dating in the internet age is rife with complications, and yet Dave Simpson’s amiable romcom manages to eschew nearly all of...


GHOSTPOET, VILLAGE UNDERGROUND New album sees this rap artist moving forward both lyrically and with his crossover sound

ONEGIN, ROYAL BALLET Cranko's adaptation of Pushkin offers plenty of character and intrigue

THE HARD PROBLEM, NATIONAL THEATRE Minor Stoppard that never fully melds head and heart

TOUCHED BY AUSCHWITZ, BBC TWO Powerful documentary by Laurence Rees allows Auschwitz survivors full reflection

THE RULING CLASS, TRAFALGAR STUDIOS James McAvoy gives a stellar performance as the mad earl, in a revival that falls short

INHERENT VICE Paul Thomas Anderson films unfilmable Thomas Pynchon, in a stoner noir

disc of the day

Blu-ray: Bad Timing

Obsession in Vienna with Art Garfunkel and Theresa Russell

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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

We Made It

We Made It: Factum Arte

Recreating a facsimile of Tutankhamun’s tomb and a painting by Veronese is all part of revolutionising our experience of art

We Made It: Publisher and Curator Amelia Gregory

Gold leaf and alchemical processes feed into a unique view of publishing

We Made It: Bex Burch, Dagaare Xylophone-Maker

Percussionist explains how the unique craft and culture of a north-Ghanaian people shapes her music



Director Stephen Daldry's three unknowns save the day

Blu-ray: Bad Timing

Obsession in Vienna with Art Garfunkel and Theresa Russell

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Action-packed James Bond pastiche by Matthew Vaughn


Kraftwerk: Pop Art, BBC Four

Kraftwerk go under the microscope for this portrait of the artists

Fortitude, Sky Atlantic

Love, death and monsters in the Arctic Circle

Timeshift: Battle for the Himalayas, BBC Four

The remarkable story of Everest on film highlights John Noel's restored footage

new music

Jessie J, Eventim Apollo

Magnificently garish live show is constantly on the edge of sensory overload

CD: Zun Zun Egui - Shackles Gift

Bristol-born indie still not delivering the punch they promise

CD: Steve Rothery - The Ghosts of Pripyat

Marillion guitar man with an evocative, slow-burning solo


Florian Boesch, Roger Vignoles, Wigmore Hall

An extraordinary musical adventure in the Austrian Alps

Hannigan, LPO, Jurowski, Festival Hall

A splendid soprano gets lost in the desert of Lindberg’s new work, but there are compensations elsewhere

Classical CDs Weekly: Henry Mancini, Georg Breinschmid, Beethoven

A giant among film composers, virtuoso bass playing and rousing romantic overtures


Leiferkus, LPO, Jurowski, RFH

Jurowski’s high-concept operatic pairing flickers brilliantly

Andrea Chénier, Royal Opera

An exceptional cast make this revolutionary romance a must-see

Orfeo, Royal Opera, Roundhouse

Austerely beautiful retelling of mythic Orpheus's grief and trials, with sounds to match


Di and Viv and Rose, Vaudeville Theatre

Frank, funny and deeply felt meditation on defining friendships

The Hard Problem, National Theatre

Minor Stoppard that never fully melds head and heart

The Ruling Class, Trafalgar Studios

James McAvoy gives a stellar performance as the mad earl, in a revival that falls short

visual arts

Rubens and His Legacy, Royal Academy

Study of the Old Master's reputation visits a neglected corner of artistic practice

PJ Harvey: Recording in Progress, Artangel at Somerset House

The musician in full creative swing: a voyeur’s delight

Quick! Win tickets for the London Art Fair

For great British art under one roof


Onegin, Royal Ballet

Cranko's adaptation of Pushkin offers plenty of character and intrigue

Richard Alston Dance Company 20th Anniversary Performances, Sadler's Wells

Two gems and two duds in celebratory mixed bill with live music

Young Men, BalletBoyz, Sadler's Wells

Fine dancers in well-designed, interesting war piece


Glasgow International Comedy Festival 2015 launch

Starry line-up for Europe's biggest festival of its kind

Best of 2014: Comedy

A reunion, reliability and star quality were the highlights

Dara Ó Bríain, Touring

Irish comic is on cracking form on home turf


Grim Fandango Remastered

A classic point-and-click adventure returns – but is the past another country?

Bear Winter

If you go down to the woods today... tomorrow... and the day after

Lumino City

Mechanical conundrums and clambering feats in this witty gem from State of Play games

latest comments

Similarly excellent show in London last night -...

Funny how we can all see and hear the same thing...

I'm not sure you watched the same performance as...

I agree - beautiful to look at but wooden to the...

I attended this last night. Excellent...

We have seen the pantomime for the last two years...


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