wed 13/12/2017

ancient Rome

From Life, Royal Academy review - perplexingly aimless

Dedicated to a foundation stone of western artistic training, this exhibition attempts a celebratory note as the Royal Academy approaches its 250th anniversary. But if the printed guide handed to visitors offers a detailed overview of working from...

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Coriolanus, Barbican review - great, late Shakespeare compels but doesn't stun

Coriolanus is post-tragic. It never horrifies like Macbeth or appals like King Lear, though its self-damaging protagonist is disconcerting enough. Shakespeare had written the signature dark dramas by 1606, including the most magnificent of the four...

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Salomé, National Theatre review - Yaël Farber’s version is verbose and overblown

Is God female? It says a lot about Yaël Farber’s pompous and overblown new version of this biblical tale at the National Theatre that, near the end of an almighty 110-minute extravaganza, all reason seemed to have vacated my brain, and its empty...

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Sunday Book: Philip Hook - Rogues' Gallery

The art dealers of today must be thanking their lucky stars that Philip Hook’s remarkable history of their trade stops where it does. For while it serves as an eminently useful if rather specialised reference book, it’s a history pushed along by a...

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Ben-Hur

Ben-Hur, the remake of the remake, is an epic misfire starring no one you’ve ever heard of apart from, inevitably, Morgan Freeman. What in heaven, you may ponder if accidentally trapped at a screening, were the producers thinking? Their rationale is...

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Mary Beard's Ultimate Rome: Empire without Limit, BBC Two

The world of antiquity, from Greece to Rome, is both so familiar and so unknown. So it was more than welcome when the immensely knowledgable Professor Mary Beard – the role of the academic, she announced, is to make everything less simple –...

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Sicily: Culture and Conquest, British Museum

This exhibition – the UK's first major exploration of the history of Sicily – highlights two astonishing epochs in the cultural history of the island, with a small bridging section in between. Spanning 4,000 years and bringing together over 200...

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Risen

It’s unbelievable how hard it is to retell the greatest story ever told. And yet dramatists still feel the urge. The BBC had a big Easter binge a few years ago with the Ulster actor James Nesbitt playing a sort of Prodius Pilate. Now here’s a film...

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Ben Hur, Tricycle Theatre

Hollywood took 365 speaking parts, 50,000 extras and 2,500 horses to tell this epic tale in 1959; here at the Tricycle, it’s a cast of four and some enterprising puppet work. Playwright Patrick Barlow, following up global hit The 39 Steps, has...

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The Celts: Blood, Iron, and Sacrifice, BBC Two

Not a ray of sunshine illuminated the landscapes that were explored in this stormy programme, the first of a three-part history of the Celts. It aimed not only to show the latest investigations into the Bronze and Iron Age tribes who inhabited...

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Building the Ancient City: Athens, BBC Two

Heaven, or a lot of pagan gods at least, may know what was in the air 2500 years ago. Bettany Hughes has just finished her trilogy of philosophers from that millennium, and now we have Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill taking us genially around...

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The Rape of Lucretia, Glyndebourne

Britten’s first chamber opera is very much a Glyndebourne piece; its world premiere in the old festival theatre in July 1946 was also the festival’s inaugural post-war production. It brought into being the English Opera Group, and led soon...

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