thu 30/06/2016, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

Die Walküre, Opera North, Southbank Centre

David Nice

Enter the human - and superhuman demands for at least four of the singers - in the second, towering instalment of Wagner's Ring cycle. It says so much for Opera North's...

theartsdesk at Glastonbury Festival 2016

Caspar Gomez

Not every Glastonbury can be blazing summer. 2016 was hard work, with real world gloom permeating the already damp party bubble. But, as your teachers used to say, you only get...

Bugsy Malone, Lyric Hammersmith

Marianka Swain

For those in sore need of a theatrical pick-me-up, jazz square your way over to Bugsy Malone. Last year’s smash-hit opener of the redeveloped Lyric has been given a well-deserved...

CD: Chrissy & Hawley - Chrissy & Hawley

Joe Muggs

The Eighties revival in dance music started in earnest with the Electroclash subculture, the first records emerging around 1996. That is to say, the Eighties revival has now...

Das Rheingold, Opera North, Southbank Centre

David Nice

They promised Wagner for everybody at the Southbank Centre, and so far they're delivering. Community events cluster around a livescreening of each Ring instalment in the Clore...

Faith Healer, Donmar Warehouse

Aleks Sierz

Oh dear. I could have sworn I had a book about Irish playwright Brian Friel somewhere. But I can’t find it. Or maybe I never bought it. Maybe I just thought I might have bought it...

The Living and the Dead, BBC One

Adam Sweeting

This new series by Ashley Pharoah is dramatically different from his previous efforts in Ashes to Ashes and Life on Mars,...

Brian Friel, the private playwright of Ballybeg

Jasper Rees

Brian Friel, who died in the autumn of 2015 at the age of 86, was a shy man who shunned interviews, keeping his powder dry...

The Colony

Ed Owen

The last film to feature the Chilean coup was No from 2012, which explored the referendum that finally rid the country of...

CD: Beyond The Wizards Sleeve - The Soft Bounce

Thomas H Green

The first I heard of Beyond the Wizards Sleeve was eight whole years ago. It was a tune called “Winter in June” and was a...

DVD: A Bigger Splash

Nick Hasted

Luca Guadagnino’s previous film, I Am Love, confirmed the Italian renaissance begun by Matteo Garrone and Paolo Sorrentino....

The Hogboon, LSO, Rattle, Barbican

Helen Wallace

The spirit of the late Peter Maxwell Davies blazed in the Barbican Hall last night. Dear God, we’ve never needed his humane...

Le Nozze di Figaro, Longborough Festival Opera

Stephen Walsh

“It doesn’t need me,” Sebastian Thomas writes in this season’s Longborough programme, “to labour the idea that the content...

As You Like It, The Savill Garden, Windsor

Ismene Brown

How often are you charmed by one of Shakespeare’s sylvan romances while literally under a greenwood tree? Even if this...

theartsdesk Q&A: Garrison Keillor

Jasper Rees

It's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, and has been for the past 42 years, ever since Garrison Keillor first reported on...

CD: Metronomy - Summer 08

Katie Colombus

I’m going to be honest, Metronomy isn’t really my bag. Perhaps I’m not hipster or highbrow enough, but I just don’t get...

Opinion: Post-Brexit, we need theatre more than ever

Marianka Swain

In seeking to understand the historic, divisive and to some bewildering Brexit vote, I will turn to theatre. Through my...

Painters' Paintings, National Gallery

Marina Vaizey

The huge and gorgeous Titian, The Vendramin Family, c.1540-c.1560, displays a frieze of males of all ages, three or four...

theartsdesk in Reykjavík: Nocturnes for Midsummer

David Nice

After a grey start, there was a spectacular sunset around midnight on the second of my two days in Reykjavik. It's what...

The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians, with Damon Albarn & Guests, RFH

Dylan Moore

Before playing a version of  “Out of Time”, the lead single from Blur’s 2003 album Think Tank, Damon Albarn explains...

First Person: Boys Will Be Boys

Melissa Bubnic

In the opening scene of Boys Will Be Boys, the lead character, Astrid, talks about how there’s a boys’ world and a girls’...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Wake Up You!

Kieron Tyler

It begins with “Never Never Let Me Down” by Formulars Dance Band. “You’re the only good thing I’ve got,” declares the singer...

CD: Drcarlsonalbion – Falling With a Thousand Stars & Other Wonders From the House of Albion

Guy Oddy

Around the Summer Solstice seems a fitting time for Dylan Carlson’s latest solo album to appear under his Drcarlsonalbion...

theartsdesk at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2016

David Kettle

Even without any particular pomp or focus for celebration, the 70th Edinburgh International Film Festival has felt like a...


★★★★★ FAITH HEALER, DONMAR WAREHOUSE Friel revival is brilliantly acted and utterly compelling

★★★★ DAS RHEINGOLD, SOUTHBANK CENTRE Opera North's Ring comes south

★★★★ THE LIVING AND THE DEAD Enlightenment battles superstition in BBC historical chiller

★★★★ A BIGGER SPLASH ON DVD Swinton and Fiennes spar in an erotic, exotic Italian enigma

★★★★ PAINTERS' PAINTINGS, NATIONAL GALLERY Insightful glimpse inside artists' collections

disc of the day

CD: Chrissy & Hawley - Chrissy & Hawley

Is there anything left to mine in the eternal Eighties revival?

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Brighton Festival

Brighton Festival: Brighton – Symphony of a City, Brighton Dome

A cinematic cross-section of life in London-by-Sea

Win a Luxury Weekend for Two at the 50th Brighton Festival!

Prize includes hotel, a meal and event tickets

DVD: Pink String and Sealing Wax

Sub-texts galore in grade-A Ealing melodrama


The Living and the Dead, BBC One

Enlightenment battles superstition in this new historical chiller

EU Referendum Results – BBC, ITV, Sky News

In an evening of unexpected victories, Sky News did surprisingly well

The Good Wife, Series 7 Finale, More4

Outstanding legal drama draws to a not-quite-perfect close


The Colony

Weird thriller features Emma Watson penetrating a religious cult in Pinochet's Chile

DVD: A Bigger Splash

Swinton and Fiennes spar in an erotic, exotic Italian enigma

theartsdesk at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2016

Little pomp but plenty of eclectic entertainment at the EIFF's 70th edition

new music

theartsdesk at Glastonbury Festival 2016

The real world and the weather impinged but couldn't keep Glastonbury down for long

CD: Chrissy & Hawley - Chrissy & Hawley

Is there anything left to mine in the eternal Eighties revival?

CD: Beyond The Wizards Sleeve - The Soft Bounce

Long-awaited, psyched out debut from DJ-producer duo is an entertaining ride


The Hogboon, LSO, Rattle, Barbican

Riotous humanity in Maxwell Davies’s farewell community opera

theartsdesk in Reykjavík: Nocturnes for Midsummer

Pianist-curator Víkingur Ólafsson goes wandering with friends

Classical CDs Weekly: Aukai, Mahler, Shostakovich

German ambient music and two discs of 20th century symphonies


Die Walküre, Opera North, Southbank Centre

The Ring's most wrenching tragedy excels with a great Wotan and Brünnhilde

Das Rheingold, Opera North, Southbank Centre

Fiery demi-god and conductor eclipse any B-casting as a Ring comes south

The Hogboon, LSO, Rattle, Barbican

Riotous humanity in Maxwell Davies’s farewell community opera


Bugsy Malone, Lyric Hammersmith

Generation-bridging joy with the return of the mobster musical pastiche

Faith Healer, Donmar Warehouse

Revival of Brian Friel’s 1979 classic is brilliantly acted and utterly compelling

Brian Friel, the private playwright of Ballybeg

The Northern Irish stage craftsman celebrated for Dancing at Lughnasa and Faith Healer

visual arts

Painters' Paintings, National Gallery

A glimpse inside artists' collections offers fresh insight into their own work

The Switch House, Tate Modern

Magnificent new extension has light and space enough for new art and new visitors

Alex Katz, Serpentine Gallery

An oh-so-cool response to the outpourings of Abstract Expressionism


Betroffenheit, Sadler's Wells/Ballet BC, Birmingham Hippodrome

Choreographer du jour Crystal Pite heads up two impressive Canadian cultural offerings

The Invitation/Obsidian Tear/Within the Golden Hour, Royal Ballet

MacMillan revival in a different class to anodyne offerings from McGregor and Wheeldon

Jekyll & Hyde, Old Vic

Dance version is loud and brash with all the horror and none of the mystery


theartsdesk Q&A: Garrison Keillor

As he hosts 'A Prairie Home Companion' for the last time, its creator looks back

Whose Line Is It Anyway?, London Palladium

Terrific fun from an old favourite

David Baddiel - My Family: Not the Sitcom, Menier Chocolate Factory

Funny and challenging show about the comic's parents


Heroes of Loot 2

This fun take on the dungeon crawler is a blast in short bursts

Homefront: The Revolution

Home isn’t where the heart is in this overly ambitious shooter


Chaotic, cartoony, co-operative carnage


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

latest comments

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