fri 06/05/2016, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

Florence Foster Jenkins

Matt Wolf

The Florence Foster Jenkins industry reaches newly giddy heights with Stephen Frears's film of the same name, which cleverly casts a great talent - who else but Meryl Streep? - as...

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare's Globe

Marianka Swain

In this 400th anniversary year, amid what feels like 400 million shows and tributes, it’s increasingly difficult for a Shakespeare production to stand out. No such problem for...

Peaky Blinders, Series 3, BBC Two

Adam Sweeting

Sometimes compared to Boardwalk Empire or The Wire, and raved over by the likes of Brad Pitt, Snoop Dogg and even Jose Mourinho, Peaky Blinders opened its third series by becoming...

Igor Levit, Wigmore Hall

Sebastian Scotney

Igor Levit’s Wigmore Hall recital was a cerebral affair, consisting mainly of Bach and Busoni with an opener, a Passacaglia by Johann Kaspar Kerll (1627-1693). Levit is a Russian-...

Thicker than Water, Series Finale, More4

Mark Sanderson

Any drama in which a crazed crone stares silently at an urn containing the ashes of her murdered husband is not afraid of raising Shakespeare’s ghost. It doesn’t matter that...

DVD: Room

Jasper Rees

The concept of Room as a home entertainment is freighted with irony. Emma Donoghue’s 2010 novel, which she adapted for Lenny Abrahamson to direct, tells of a young woman who,...

Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, Barbican

Peter Culshaw

In which two of the biggest beasts of Brazilian music played in tandem (and it was often playful) sparred with each other...

I Saw the Light

Matt Wolf

The sad, short life of country legend Hank Williams makes for a surpassingly dour biopic in I Saw the Light, which does at...

Frankenstein, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Another year, another new full-length story ballet from one of the Royal Ballet's in-house choreographers. Time was – a long...

An Enemy of the People, Chichester Festival Theatre

Bella Todd

If Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes were (a lot) more like Ibsen, our national viewing habits would be in good hands....

Chris Cornell / Fantastic Negrito, Royal Albert Hall

Matthew Wright

Bold programming always deserves credit. Last night’s Royal Albert Hall audience enjoyed an unusually piquant blend, as...

Who was St Clair Bayfield?

Jasper Rees

This week Stephen Frears's film about Florence Foster Jenkins opens. It will bring to the widest attention yet the story of...

Mona Hatoum, Tate Modern

Sarah Kent

Mona Hatoum was born in Beirut of Palestinian parents. She came to London to study at the Slade School in 1975 and got stuck...

CD: Jessy Lanza - Oh No

Joe Muggs

Canadian singer/producer Jessy Lanza's records – and this one more than ever – can feel like they're mapping an alternative...

Knight of Cups

Saskia Baron

There are times when you sit in the cinema and wish that you didn’t speak English and could just enjoy what you’re seeing....

theartsdesk in Denmark: Ambition and Attack in Aalborg and Aarhus

Kieron Tyler

Denmark is casting a shadow in a way it has not done before. The international success of Copenhagen’s Lukas Graham is...

CD: Kel Assouf - Tikounen

Howard Male

When the Tuareg band Tinariwen first started to come to prominence a decade or so ago, world music purists tried to lay...

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Middle Temple Hall

David Nice

You rarely see a full production of Shakespeare's dream play so magical it brings tears to the eyes. But then you don't...

DVD: The Hateful Eight

Mark Kidel

Tarantino’s latest bloodfest is a claustrophobic piece of cinema in which a very wild bunch, holed up in a Wyoming shack in...

Marcus Brigstocke, Soho Theatre

Veronica Lee

It's striking what a broken heart can do for a comic. Not least it can provide him with some new material, but also make him...

Zuev, LPO, Jurowski, RFH

David Nice

It often sounds as though Richard Strauss makes the ascent of his Alpine Symphony in too many layers of clothes. Hopes were...

The Silk Road, BBC Four

Marina Vaizey

Terracotta warriors, Bactrian two-humped camels, Heavenly Horses, Buddhist caves, sand dunes, the world’s first printed book...

CD: Snarky Puppy – Culcha Vulcha

Matthew Wright

Snarky Puppy make music on their own terms. Boundary-straddling is their stock in trade, from their origins between Brooklyn...

Q&A Special: Sir Mark Elder on Dvořák

Jasper Rees

This May the Hallé is celebrating Dvořák. The orchestra’s music director Sir Mark Elder has previously mounted a festival of...


WHO WAS ST CLAIR BAYFIELD? Florence Foster Jenkins's biographer tells the true story of her common-law husband, played by Hugh Grant in Stephen Frears's new film

MARCUS BRIGSTOCKE, SOHO THEATRE Observational comic gets some gripes off his chest

FRANKENSTEIN, ROYAL BALLET New ballet has lavish production values, but the story's stretched thin

DVD: THE HATEFUL EIGHT Torrents of blood in the Wyoming snow

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, MIDDLE TEMPLE HALL Mendelssohn's incidental music adds to an enchanted Shakespeare evening

THEARTSDESK IN DENMARK: AMBITION AND ATTACK IN AALBORG AND AARHUS  SPOT Festival shows there’s more to Denmark’s music than Lukas Graham

disc of the day

DVD: Room

Brie Larson won an Oscar, but there's more to this adaptation of Emma Donoghue's novel

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DVD: Pink String and Sealing Wax

Sub-texts galore in grade-A Ealing melodrama

10 Questions for Musician Beth Orton

The singer-songwriter talks about California, EDM, music-making, money and more


Peaky Blinders, Series 3, BBC Two

Further down the road to perdition with Tommy Shelby and family

Thicker than Water, Series Finale, More4

Scandi midsummer murders sets us up for series two

The Silk Road, BBC Four

How 2,000-year-old trade routes carried merchandise, ideas and inventions between Europe and China


Florence Foster Jenkins

Meryl Streep shines as New York's unforgettably talentless soprano

DVD: Room

Brie Larson won an Oscar, but there's more to this adaptation of Emma Donoghue's novel

I Saw the Light

Darkness risible: Tom Hiddleston stars as Hank Williams in lacklustre biopic

new music

Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, Barbican

A joint concert of two of Brazil's great singers impresses a rapt audience

Chris Cornell / Fantastic Negrito, Royal Albert Hall

Unusually potent programme pairs smooth romance and political protest

CD: Jessy Lanza - Oh No

Canadian singer-songwriter telescopes the history of electro together


Igor Levit, Wigmore Hall

Indifferent Bach but a towering performance of Busoni's 'Fantasia Contrappuntistica'

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Middle Temple Hall

Mendelssohn's incidental music adds to an enchanted Shakespeare evening

Zuev, LPO, Jurowski, RFH

Rachmaninov's strangest adventure excels even Strauss's Alpine journey


Daniel Kramer for ENO Artistic Director: cause for cautious optimism?

Can the new incumbent hold out against the company's impoverishment?

Il Vologeso, Classical Opera, Cadogan Hall

A gem from 1766 offers pure delight in perfect casting and playing

Tannhäuser, Royal Opera

Superior cast elevates revival of Albery’s serviceable production


Six of the best: Theatre

Emma Rice's joyfully irreverent 'Dream' leads theartsdesk's stage tips

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare's Globe

New artistic director Emma Rice makes a joyfully irreverent start

An Enemy of the People, Chichester Festival Theatre

Hugh Bonneville returns to the stage after more than a decade in Ibsen's political comedy

visual arts

Mona Hatoum, Tate Modern

The pain of life in exile provides powerful subject matter

Alberto Giacometti, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich

A one-of-a-kind artist gains context and depth surrounded by his contemporaries

John Piper, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

Intimately connected to his paintings, the artist's textiles remain mysterious


Frankenstein, Royal Ballet

New ballet has lavish production values, but the story's stretched thin

BalletBoyz, Life, Sadler's Wells

Controversial choreographer Javier de Frutos fakes own death, steals show

Mariinsky Ballet: Concerto DSCH, Sacre, Wales Millennium Centre

A flying visit from St Petersburg, without the swans


Marcus Brigstocke, Soho Theatre

Observational comic gets some gripes off his chest

Victoria Wood: 'Please could you repeat the question?'

She was the most gifted comedian of her generation, male or female

10 Questions for Comedian Alexei Sayle

The Liverpudlian Surrealist talks film, music and imaginary sandwich bars


Ratchet & Clank

Spit and polish trumps bodge it and scarper


Nintendo makes a surprising choice for its first mobile app

Dark Souls III

Snap defeat from the jaws of victory in this hardcore RPG action adventure


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
Listed: The 100 Funniest Things about Downton Abbey
Julian Fellowes' juggernaut has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous in six series. Here's how he did it

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