tue 21/11/2017

history

Storyville: Toffs, Queers and Traitors, BBC Four review - the spy who was a scamp

“There is something odd, I suppose, about anyone who betrays their country.” It’s an excellent opening line, particularly when delivered in director George Carey’s nicely querulous narrative voice, for Toffs, Queers and Traitors (BBC Four). He...

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Oliver Sacks: The River of Consciousness review - a luminous final collection of essays

Oliver Sacks was the neurologist – and historian of science, and naturalist – whose exceptionally elegant, clear and accessible prose has captivated that almost mythical creature, the general audience, through more than a dozen books as well as many...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Frantz Fanon - Black Face White Mask

The much-respected visual artist Isaac Julien made his name as one of the first great black British filmmakers, not least with Looking for Langston (1989) and Young Soul Rebels (1991). While Steve McQueen moved from gallery art and installations to...

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Gunpowder, BBC One review – death, horror, treason and a hint of farce

Much is being made of the fact that Kit Harington is not only playing the Gunpowder Plot mastermind Robert Catesby, but is genuinely descended from him (and his middle name is Catesby). However, despite its factual underpinnings and screenwriter...

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Niall Ferguson: The Square and the Tower review - of groups and power

The controversial historian Niall Ferguson is the author of some dozen books, including substantial narratives of the Rothschild dynasty, a history of money, and a study of Henry Kissinger up to and including the Vietnam war. His new one has the...

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Russia 1917: Countdown to Revolution, BBC Two review - words stronger than pictures 100 years on

It’s getting to that time of the century. A hundred years ago to the month, if not quite the day, the Winter Palace was stormed, and the Russian Revolution came to pass. To commemorate the communists’ accession, Russia 1917: Countdown to Revolution...

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Oslo, National Theatre review - informative, gripping and moving

Documentary theatre has a poor reputation. It’s boring in form, boring to look at (all those middle-aged men in suits), and usually only tells you what you already know. It’s journalism without the immediacy of the news. But there are other ways of...

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Victoria and Abdul review - Judi Dench's Queen Victoria retread battles creaky script

The charm quickly palls in Victoria and Abdul, a watery sequel of sorts to Mrs Brown that salvages what lustre it can from its octogenarian star, the indefatigable Judi Dench. Illuminating a little-known friendship between Queen Victoria in her...

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Boudica, Shakespeare's Globe review - ancient history made compellingly contemporary

History comes to the stage of the Globe only rarely – at least if you compare the frequency of productions there from that segment of the Shakespearean canon against the tragedies and comedies – which is certainly one reason to welcome Boudica. Much...

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'The kaleidoscope of an entire lifetime of memories'

When director Bruce Guthrie first gave me the script for Man to Man by Manfred Karge, I was immediately mesmerised by the language, each of the 27 scenes leapt off the page. Some are a few short sentences, other pages long; every one a...

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Richard III review - Temple Church venue is the star of the show

Temple Church gained worldwide fame when Dan Brown included a major plot point there in his mega-selling novel The Da Vinci Code in 2003, but it has been standing, minding its own business, since the late 12th century. Now it’s home for a short run...

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Matthew Dunster on adapting 'A Tale of Two Cities'

When you are adapting a novel like A Tale of Two Cities, it's a privilege to sit with a great piece of writing for a considerable amount of time. You also feel secure (and a bit cheeky) in the knowledge that another writer has already done most of...

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