mon 18/10/2021

17th century

theartsdesk at the Three Choirs Festival - Purcell, Gabriel Jackson and Duruflé

King Arthur, as every schoolgirl knows, never actually existed, so it made perfect sense that the Gabrieli Consort’s Worcester Cathedral performance of Purcell’s semi-opera about the mythical British king and his battles with the Saxon incomers made...

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Hamlet, Windsor Theatre Royal review - the age is out of joint

So it wasn’t Cinderella but Hamlet who was first out of the post-lockdown starting blocks – Andrew Lloyd Webber’s much trumpeted musical premiere being foiled by a ping at the weekend. Instead the historic first curtain-up was 20 miles up the River...

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Il ritorno d'Ulisse, Longborough Festival Opera review - gods and grunge on the long journey home

They showed Clash of the Titans the other night – not the wretched remake, but the original 1981 sword-and-sandals cheesefest, complete with Ray Harryhausen’s Kraken, Ursula Andress as Aphrodite and that rip-roaring Laurence Rosenthal score. And, of...

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Dido’s Ghost, Buxton International Festival review - the Queen of Carthage returns

“Remember me!”, sang Dido to a departed Aeneas in the heart-rending aria-chaconne announcing her demise that dominates the ending of Purcell’s baroque opera. But what if he did … if in fact he never could forget her? That’s the premise behind...

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1971, Apple TV+ review - rock'n'roll's golden year?

Back in the mid-Eighties, BBC television started broadcasting The Rock'n' Roll Years, one of the first rock music retrospectives. Each half-hour episode focused on a year, with news reports and music intermixed to give a revealing look at the...

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DVD: Fanny Lye Deliver'd

There’s something very familiar and also a little disappointing about Fanny Lye Deliver’d. Set in the years following the English Civil War, the story follows a young couple who enter the home of a stern, God-fearing family, disrupting their lives...

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The Old Guard review - serious silliness

It’s hard to take The Old Guard seriously — it’s an action film about thousand-year-old immortal warriors. Pulpy flashbacks and fake blood abounds. But The Old Guard doesn’t need to be serious or even memorable: it’s a fun, feel-good film, a rare...

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Fanny Lye Deliver’d review - blistering English civil war western

Ten years in the making, Thomas Clay’s third feature, starring Charles Dance and Maxine Peake, is a remarkable and potent example of genre-splicing British independent filmmaking. The story opens in 1657. Cromwell is in power and, on a small,...

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The Revenger's Tragedy, Piccolo Teatro di Milano/Cheek by Jowl, Barbican review - fun, but not enough

Vendetta, morte: what a lark to find those tools of 19th century Italian opera taken back to their mother tongue in a Milanese take on Jacobean so-called tragedy, where the overriding obsession is on mortalità. It would take a composer of savage wit...

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Nicolaes Maes: Dutch Master of the Golden Age, National Gallery review – beautifully observed vignettes

A young woman sits sewing (pictured below right: Young Woman Sewing,1655). She is totally immersed in her task, and our attention is similarly focused on her and every detail of her environment. The cool light pouring though the window illuminates...

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Women Beware Women, Shakespeare's Globe, review – wittily toxic upgrade of a Jacobean tragedy

This raunchy, gleefully cynical production takes one of Thomas Middleton’s most famous tragedies and turns it into a Netflix-worthy dark comedy. Where the themes of incest, betrayal, cougar-action and multiple murder would be spun out over several...

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Faustus: That Damned Woman, Lyric Hammersmith review - gender swap yields muddled results

Changing the gender of the title character “highlights the way in which women still operate in a world designed by and for men,” argues Chris Bush, whose reimagining of Marlowe’s play premieres at the Lyric ahead of a UK tour. It’s certainly a...

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