mon 22/07/2019

Stalin

Williams, BBC Philharmonic, Wigglesworth, Bridgewater Hall Manchester review - vision before gloom

The BBC Philharmonic have given memorable accounts of Shostakovich’s Symphony No 4 in Manchester before – notably conducted by Günther Herbig in 2010 and by John Storgårds in 2014 – but surely none as harrowingly grim as under Mark Wigglesworth this...

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Blu-ray: Khrustalyov, My Car!

The title of Khrustalyov, My Car! comes, infamously, from the words uttered by NKVD chief Lavrenty Beria as he departed the scene of Stalin’s death in March 1953, and Alexei German’s film comes as close as cinema can to dissecting the surreal terror...

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Traitors, Channel 4 review - Cold War thriller fails to reach room temperature

It’s 1945 and World War Two is nearly over. Somewhere in England, Fiona Symonds (“Feef” to her friends) is training to be a spy and be dropped behind enemy lines. Her training involves such amusements as being woken in the night by having a bucket...

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Magda Szabó: Katalin Street review - love after life

This is a love story and a ghost story. The year is 1934 and the Held family have moved from the countryside to an elegant house on Katalin Street in Budapest. Their new neighbours are the Major (with whom Mr Held fought in the Great War) and his...

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Cold War review - a gorgeous and mesmerising romance

Can we ever really know the passion that brought our parents together? By the time we are old enough to hear the story of how they first met, that lovers’ narrative has frayed in the telling and faded in the daily light of domestic familiarity. But...

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Life and Fate / Uncle Vanya, Maly Drama Theatre, Theatre Royal Haymarket review - the greatest ensemble?

Towards the end of the Maly Drama Theatre of St Petersburg's Life and Fate, a long scene in director Lev Dodin's daring if necessarily selective adaptation of Vasily Grossman's epic novel brings many of the actors together after a sequence of...

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Anne Applebaum: Red Famine review - hope around a heart of darkness

Hands both sensitive and surgical are needed to guide a reader into the heart of the 20th century’s second biggest genocide and out again. Anne Applebaum is the right person for a queasy and difficult task, never turning away from the horrifying...

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DVD: Revolution - New Art for a New World

Revolution - New Art for a New World film starts well: the opening shot (main picture) is of young women painting white letters onto a red banner. “We all knew what to paint,” says the voice-over. “Bread, Work, Vote, but the message was ‘...

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Child 44

"There is no murder in paradise" is the official line of the authorities in 1950s Russia, but nevertheless Child 44 is the blood-drenched tale of a hunt for a mass-murdering paedophile in Stalin's deathly shadow. The source novel was the first in...

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Silent Planet, Finborough Theatre

Russian prisoner Gavriil is telling his psychiatrist a story about a strange and frightening dragon who demands a female sacrifice from the local townsfolk every year. When Gavriil gets to the end of his hot-breathed tale, his doctor drily remarks...

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David Schneider Makes Stalin Laugh

When Dostoyevsky was asked why he wrote Crime and Punishment he famously replied, “To further my career and get shortlisted for book prizes.” He didn’t, of course. I made that up. But what artist/writer/actor creates a piece of art/writing/acting...

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The Love Girl and the Innocent, Southwark Playhouse

Southwark Playhouse's new production of The Love Girl and the Innocent is London’s first in over 30 years, and there’s a reason Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s play rarely reaches the stage: it’s a lumpy mammoth of a script, demanding a cast upwards of 50...

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