sat 22/07/2017

England

Dunkirk review - old-fashioned filmmaking on the grandest scale

What is the Dunkirk spirit? It has been so thoroughly internalised by the national psyche that, 77 years on, it’s as much a brand, a meme or a slogan as the product of a historical fact: that at the start of World War Two 330,000 soldiers of the...

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In the Dark, BBC One review - missing girls mystery promises hidden depths

Detective Inspector Helen Weeks (MyAnna Buring), having finally cornered a skanky drug-dealer/benefit cheat in a blind alley – and stopped an eager PC from Tasering the woman – is punched in the stomach for her pains. How’s that for a hard-hitting...

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Buxton Festival review - early Verdi, earlier Mozart and refreshing Britten

“The subject is neither political nor religious; it is fantastical” wrote Verdi to the librettist Piave about his opera Macbeth. “The opera is not about the rise of a modern fascist: nor is it about political tyranny. It is a study in character”...

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The Wind in the Willows, London Palladium review - an effortful slog

An enormous amount rides on a musical's opening number. Without explicitly expressing it, a good opener sets tone, mood and style. Take The Lion King, where "Circle of Life" so thrillingly unites music, design and direction that nothing that follows...

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Albert Herring, The Grange Festival review - playing it straight yields classic comedy gold

Perfect comedies for the country-house opera scene? Mozart's Figaro and Così, Strauss's Ariadne - and Britten's Albert Herring, now 70 years and a few days old, but as ageless as the rest. With the passing of time it's ever more obvious that this...

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Kuusisto, London Chamber Orchestra, Ashkenazy, Cadogan Hall

Tears were likely to flow freely on this most beautiful and terrible of June evenings, especially given a programme – dedicated by Vladimir Ashkenazy to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire – already prone to the elegiac. It could hardly...

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Ackley Bridge, Channel 4 review – can the town's new academy bring racial and social harmony?

Welcome to Ackley Bridge Academy, home of a new Channel 4 drama and a new amalgam of two segregated schools in a Yorkshire mill town setting out to prove itself “a new school with a new attitude”. This, at least, is the vision of new headteacher...

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Lettice and Lovage, Menier Chocolate Factory review - Peter Shaffer's star vehicle sags

You have to hand it to Felicity Kendal: this ever-game actress is fearless about treading in the footsteps of the British theatre's grandes dames. In 2006, she starred on the West End quite creditably in Amy's View, inheriting a part originated on...

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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword review - Guy Ritchie's deadly weapon

Guy Ritchie is back birthing turkeys. Who can remember/forget that triptych of stiffs Swept Away, Revolver and RocknRolla? Now, having redemptively bashed his CV back into shape with the assistance of Sherlock Holmes, the mockney rebel turns to...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Playwright Jez Butterworth

Jez Butterworth is back. Even before the critics have uttered a single word of praise The Ferryman, directed by Sam Mendes and set in rural Derry in 1981 at the height of the IRA hunger strikes, sold out its run at the Royal Court in hours. It...

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The Last Kingdom - 'one of the very best things on television'

The first series of The Last Kingdom in 2015 kicked off with a blockbuster episode which managed to encompass savage violence, dynastic rivalry and a speedy tour of the state of Britain in the ninth century, while allowing the central protagonist,...

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Sunday Book: Min Kym - Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung

“What’s it like to be a child prodigy?” is a question asked by violinist Min Kym several times in the course of this fascinating, agonising memoir. There’s no simple answer, but this description rings true: “There’s that peculiar sensation of...

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