sat 19/01/2019

19th century

The Queen of Spades, Royal Opera review - uneven cast prey to overthought concept

Prince Yeletsky, one of the shortest roles for a principal baritone in opera but with the loveliest of arias, looms large in Stefan Herheim's concept of The Queen of Spades. Not so much as a name in Pushkin's perfect short story of 1834, a mere...

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Colette review - Keira Knightley thrives in Paris

In a telling scene midway through Colette, our lead is told that rather than get used to marriage, it is “better to make marriage get used to you.” In this retelling of the remarkable Colette’s rise, it is evident she did much more than that; by the...

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Les Misérables, BBC One review - Dominic West looks the part in new Victor Hugo adaptation

There’s no singing, no Hugh Jackman and no Anne Hathaway, and the dolorous tone of Andrew Davies’s new adaptation of Victor Hugo’s sprawling novel is established in the opening scene. It’s the aftermath of the battle of Waterloo in 1815, and the...

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L'enfance du Christ, BBCSO, Gardner, Barbican review - Berlioz's kindest wonder

Like the fountains that sprang up in the desert during the Holy Family's flight into Egypt - according to a charming episode in the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew - Berlioz's new-found creativity in the 1850s flowed from a couple of bars of organ music he...

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Boris Akunin: Black City review - a novel to sharpen the wits

It is 1914 – a fateful year for assassinations, war and revolution. The fictional Erast Petrovich Fandorin, the protagonist of Boris Akunin’s series of historical thrillers, is an elegant, eccentric sometime government servant, spy and diplomat, as...

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Lizzie review - murder most meticulous

The story of Lizzie Borden, controversially acquitted of murdering her father and stepmother with an axe in Fall River, Massachusetts in 1892, has been explored many times on screen and in print (there’s even an opera and a musical version, not to...

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The Nutcracker, Royal Ballet review - a still-magical tale of two couples

Once a year is never too often to revisit one of the most perfect of all orchestral scores (not just for the ballet), a climactic Russian Imperial Pas de deux and the old-fashioned magic of illusionist painted flats flying in and out across a...

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Death and Nightingales, BBC Two, review - slow, lyrical, slightly dull

And now for something completely different from The Fall. The nerve-shredding drama from Northern Ireland was written by Allan Cubitt and featured, as its resident psychopathic hottie, Jamie Dornan (pictured below). It seems the two couldn’t get...

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Edward Burne-Jones, Tate Britain review - time for a rethink?

When, in 1853, Edward Burne-Jones (or Edward Jones as he then was) went up to Exeter College, Oxford, it could hardly have been expected that the course of his life would change so radically. His mother having died in childbirth, he was brought up...

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Peterloo review - Mike Leigh's angry historical drama

Considering how the UK prides itself on having created the "Mother of Parliaments" and its citizens having once chopped off a king's head for thwarting its will, remarkably little is taught in our schools about one of the seminal events on the way...

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Red Dead Redemption 2 review - the cowboy drama makes a triumphant return

Realistic open world games need the little touches to convince you of the reality within which you play. Perhaps it’s your character’s beard that grows a little more each day, maybe it’s the way mud builds up on his boots during wet weather, or how...

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A Very Very Very Dark Matter, Bridge Theatre review - black comedy falls flat

It's all in the title, isn't it? Martin McDonagh's surreal new play comes with a warning that not only screams its intentions, but echoes them through repetition. Okay, okay, I get it. This is going to be a dark story, a very very very dark story....

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