sat 20/12/2014

Reviews

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek Live, BBC One

Matthew Wright

It’s never a good start when the performers have more to gain than the audience. The album Cheek to Cheek, of which this was a televised performance, came out in September to a respectfully reserved reception in UK, while American critics, seemingly more demanding of originality, gave it a vigorous pasting. Musically, it has as much substance, and as many holes, as one of Gaga’s dresses, but the novelty of the concept, if not the interpretations, is just sufficient to see the hour’s show out....

Widowers' Houses, Orange Tree Theatre

Alexandra Coghlan

When the Orange Tree Theatre lost all its Arts Council Funding earlier this year it was hard to get too outraged. An institution that has made a niche in giving the good folk of Richmond exactly the kind of wig-and-britches, RP theatre that they like is hardly an urgent cause. But this is a new era for the Orange Tree in many ways, not least the arrival of new artistic director Paul Miller. His crisp, clean production of Shaw’s first play makes a clear statement: the costumes and the accents...

Serial Finale: Cul-de-Sacs and Curveballs

Fisun Güner

The concluding episode came, and in a confusion of dates I missed it. If you’ve been following the weekly podcast Serial, you, like me and millions...

Big Eyes

Matt Wolf

The worlds of marital abuse and artistic fraud collide to eye-opening if also frustrating effect in Big Eyes, Tim Burton's film about the unmasking...

Un Ballo in Maschera, Royal Opera

David Nice

Covent Garden’s masked balls circling around the New Year feature not the seasonal bourgeois Viennese couple and a bat-winged conspirator but a king...

Game of Thrones Episode 1: Iron From Ice

Stuart Houghton

Lashings of intrigue but poor pacing mars this pilot episode

The Fall, Series 2 Finale, BBC Two

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Is this the end for Allan Cubitt's fifty shades of serial killer?

Beeswing

Helen K Parker

Cerebral wandering through the memories of a wonderfully strange games developer

Eric and Little Ern, St James Theatre

Veronica Lee

Affectionate tribute to a great double act

City of Angels, Donmar Warehouse

Sam Marlowe

Lavish entertainment from the musical portrait of Forties Tinseltown

Dumb and Dumber To

Katherine McLaughlin

Hit and miss comedy sequel from the Farrelly Brothers

Almost, Maine, Park Theatre

Heather Neill

UK premiere of sweet, phenomenally popular American drama set in a fictional town

The Frozen Scream, Wales Millennium Centre

Gary Raymond

Pastiche co-written by Sarah Waters is a brave misfire

The Missing, Series Finale, BBC One

Jasper Rees

Audience foxed by twists in the outro of the first series

Guys and Dolls

Adam Sweeting

Sinatra and Brando ride again in classic MGM musical

The Choir: New Military Wives, BBC Two

Marina Vaizey

How Gareth Malone took his new choir to the First World War centenary Prom

The Merchant of Venice, Almeida Theatre

David Nice

Las Vegas bling lethally demolished in Rupert Goold's layered Shakespeare

Fretwork, Shoreditch Church

Sebastian Scotney

Among the Christmas staples, it's a relief to find an imaginative take on a different theme

theartsdesk on Vinyl

Thomas H Green

A festive launch for our regular vinyl reviews

Steph and Dom Meet... Nigel Farage, Channel 4 / Bullseyes and Beer - When Darts Hit Britain, BBC Four

Adam Sweeting

Controversial pub-going politician quizzed by the couple from hell

Olive Kitteridge, Sky Atlantic

Tom Birchenough

Frances McDormand excels in superlative four-hour adaptation of small-town American life

The Nutcracker, English National Ballet, London Coliseum

Jenny Gilbert

Wayne Eagling's production returns for another bout of rodent control

Kon-Tiki

Kieron Tyler

More surface than substance in Oscar-nominated biopic of Norway’s sea-faring adventurer

Henry IV, Parts One and Two, RSC, Barbican

David Nice

A charmless Falstaff and two blunt young blades in mediocre Shakespeare double bill

The Human League, Brighton Centre

Thomas H Green

Retro-futurist nostalgia proves a festive treat with the Human League

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Czars

Kieron Tyler

John Grant’s past catches up with him

Golem, 1927, Young Vic

Alexandra Coghlan

Brilliant and endlessly inventive theatre from this young British company

Ohlsson, BBCSO, Oramo, Barbican

David Nice

Hymning the human in a Nielsen masterpiece and the cosmic in a psychedelic epic by Busoni

Canterbury Cathedral, BBC Two

Florence Hallett

The first of three episodes is little more than a puff piece for the Church of England

newsletter

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

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. 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 theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

latest in today

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek Live, BBC One

Musical novelty act just about justifies an hour's featherweight enter...

Widowers' Houses, Orange Tree Theatre

A timely revival of a timeless satire

DVD: The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq

Little comes as expected in Guillaume Nicloux’s wry, eccentric French comed...

Serial Finale: Cul-de-Sacs and Curveballs

The gripping podcast ended on an inconclusive note, but the human drama was...

Big Eyes

Tim Burton's latest leaves you, well, wide-eyed

Un Ballo in Maschera, Royal Opera

Shining moments and star voices in mostly drab Verdi

Game of Thrones Episode 1: Iron From Ice

Lashings of intrigue but poor pacing mars this pilot episode

We Made It: Factum Arte

Using 3D technology to revolutionise the way we care for cultural heritage

The Fall, Series 2 Finale, BBC Two

Is this the end for Allan Cubitt's fifty shades of serial killer?

Beeswing

Cerebral wandering through the memories of a wonderfully strange games deve...