sat 10/12/2016, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

Aleks Sierz
Saturday, 10 December 2016
It’s television, not theatre, that has real power. Real cultural force. Cultural muscle. Take the case of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s one-woman show, Fleabag. First staged in 2013 at...
David Nice
Saturday, 10 December 2016
August 1914, September 2001, all of 2016: these are the dates Hungary's late, great writer Péter Esterházy served up for the non-linear narrative of his friend Péter Eötvös's...
Matt Wolf
Saturday, 10 December 2016
This Chekhov-intensive year comes to a muted climax with a rare sighting of Wild Honey, Michael Frayn's reappraisal of the Russian master's untitled early text more commonly known...
Graham Rickson
Saturday, 10 December 2016
Bach: Christmas Oratorio Windsbacher Knabenchoir, Deutsche Kammer-Virtuosen Berlin/Karl Friedrich Beringer (Cantatas 1-3) and Martin Lehman (nos. 4-6) (Sony)Two notable versions...
Matthew Wright
Saturday, 10 December 2016
TV’s Gareth Malone has been pounding the pavement from the Perranarworthal Handbell Ringers in Cornwall to the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band in West Yorkshire to curate a...
Tom Birchenough
Friday, 09 December 2016
John Donnelly’s play The Pass scored a slate of five-star reviews when it ran at the Royal Court early last year – theartsdesk called it “scorching” – and plaudits for Russell...
David Nice
Friday, 09 December 2016
Praise be to the spell cast by top players on great composers. Without the phenomenon that is Leila Josefowicz, John Adams...
Marina Vaizey
Friday, 09 December 2016
Ebullient, prolific, loquacious and a charmingly enthusiastic historian both in print and for television, Simon Sebag...
Saskia Baron
Friday, 09 December 2016
William Friedkin’s super-stylish bad cop/bad villain thriller was his return to form after the disasters of Crusing and...
Matt Wolf
Thursday, 08 December 2016
There are no cartwheels, and no one does the splits, in the new London revival of that most cherishable of Broadway musicals...
Russ Coffey
Thursday, 08 December 2016
Now the celebrity-drug-addict phase of Pete Doherty's career seems to be over the question remains as to what sort of artist...
Jasper Rees
Thursday, 08 December 2016
On January 25 1996, after Rent's final dress rehearsal at the off-off-Broadway New York Theater Workshop, its composer...
Marina Vaizey
Thursday, 08 December 2016
The Good American, a Texan no less, has landed at Tate Modern in style. This posthumous retrospective of the great Robert...
Graham Rickson
Thursday, 08 December 2016
Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom started life as a short stage play in 1984, drawing on its creator’s own experiences in the...
Jasper Rees
Thursday, 08 December 2016
Another week, another serial killer on prime time. In Dark Angel we had the grim story of Mary Ann Cotton, the Victorian...
Katie Colombus
Thursday, 08 December 2016
If Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” makes you want to burn the nearest decorated pine tree and Michael Buble’s...
David Nice
Wednesday, 07 December 2016
An amplified crunch in the dark, sound without vision, kicks off this take on Moss Hart and George S Kaufman's light comedy...
Gavin Dixon
Wednesday, 07 December 2016
Igor Levit began his recording career with Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas, and his deeply felt, impressively mature...
Barney Harsent
Wednesday, 07 December 2016
In the late 1960s, photographer Nick Hedge travelled the country, documenting some truly horrific housing conditions and the...
Mark Sanderson
Wednesday, 07 December 2016
Any show that starts with a shot of a naked bubble-butt is likely to grab the attention – especially when it belongs to Milo...

THE BEST MUSICALS IN LONDON From Mormons to Matilda, we recommend the top shows

SHIRLEY JACKSON: A RISING STAR AT 100 As the great American ghost writer rises again, her son explains her allure

SEASONS OF LOVE: 'RENT' 20 YEARS ON Jonathan Larson died before his musical struck gold. Was there more to come?

CAROLS FROM KING'S: HOW A TRADITION WAS MADE The pioneering BBC broadcast that first brought us Nine Lessons and Carols

ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG, TATE MODERN Inventive and idiosyncratic: the restless genius of an American pioneer

VIENNA: EMPIRE, DYNASTY AND DREAM Simon Sebag-Montefiore tours the Hapsburg capital

TO LIVE AND DIE IN LA Stylish 1985 thriller replete with car chases in a welcome restoration

disc of the day

CD: Gareth Malone - A Great British Christmas

Intriguingly cosmopolitan programme let down by bland arrangements

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Vienna: Empire, Dynasty and Dream, BBC Four

Simon Sebag Montefiore hones in on the Hapsburgs and their capital

In Plain Sight, ITV

Martin Compston chills as Scottish serial killer Peter Manuel

Slum Britain: 50 Years On, Channel 5

An unflinching look at the changing face of poverty in Britain


The Pass

Russell Tovey is man of the match in screen transfer of vibrant, poignant Royal Court drama about gay footballers

Blu-ray: To Live and Die in LA

Stylish 1985 thriller replete with car chases in a welcome restoration

Six of the best: Film

theartsdesk recommends the half-dozen top films out now

new music

CD: Gareth Malone - A Great British Christmas

Intriguingly cosmopolitan programme let down by bland arrangements

Peter Doherty, O2 Forum Kentish Town

Libertines singer fuses Bohemianism with the spirit of punk

CD: Pentatonix - A Pentatonix Christmas

The band that's managed to make Christmas albums cool has done it again


theartsdesk in Budapest: Prophecy in the world's best concert hall

Great Hungarian musicians look outwards as the country's government closes the door

Classical CDs Weekly: Christmas 2016 (part 1)

Six of this year's most entertaining and life-enhancing seasonal discs

Josefowicz, LSO, Adams, Barbican

Scheherazade re-imagined as freedom-fighter in an ideal interpretation


El Niño, LSO, Adams, Barbican

Light and darkness balanced in a great oratorio music-drama

Das Rheingold, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Consummate 'preliminary evening' of the Ring from a master Wagnerian

Alice's Adventures Under Ground, Barbican

Gerald Barry's crazy velocity berserks both 'Alice' books in rude style


Fleabag, Soho Theatre
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s television hit returns to the stage – and still rocks
Six of the best: Theatre
Potter, Pinter and murder: theartsdesk's stage tips
Wild Honey, Hampstead Theatre
Early Chekhov begins strongly, then falls away


Swan Lake/Loch na hEala, Sadler’s Wells

Agony meets ecstasy in radical Irish take on the ballet

Conceal/Reveal, Russell Maliphant Company, Messums Barn

Modern dance finds a serene new home in a 13th-century tithe barn

The Nutcracker, Royal Ballet

Christmas classic is never disappointing - and these principals always winning


The best comedy DVDs of 2016

A few suggestions for funny stocking-fillers - from Billy Connolly to Sarah Millican

Tom Allen, Soho Theatre

Intricately constructed tale about suburbia

The Catherine Tate Show Live, Eventim Apollo

Go on, have a guess. Terrific live tour of sketch show favourites


Time Locker

Is this top-down 2D endless run & gun game a timeless classic?

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Infinite warfare but finite fun

Titanfall 2

Robot Wars goes up a notch

visual arts

Robert Rauschenberg, Tate Modern

Inventive and idiosyncratic: the restless genius of an American pioneer

Painters’ Painters, Saatchi Gallery

An invigorating look at a medium that not only refuses to die, but invites continual reinvention

'Before punk, there was Rauschenberg'

As a major retrospective opens at Tate Modern, musician and producer Justin Adams reflects on his lifelong love of an American great

latest comments

Although Hariharan has sung many beautiful song...

SSM's constant tone of breathless wonderment/gasp...

Really want this one on dvd but is impossible to...

You should familiarise yourself with the story of...

Why is it not possible to purchase a video...

Yes - “Shiva’s Dance”, from her 1983 cassette...

The line "You talking to me?" comes from Taxi...


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters