wed 18/09/2019

World War One

For Services Rendered, Jermyn Street Theatre review – uneven revival of 1930s drama

“I don’t think I have the right to influence her,” says an older character of her daughter in For Services Rendered, W Somerset Maugham’s 1932 anti-war drama. If only all elder statesmen and women felt the same about the youth. Tom Littler’s revival...

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Tolkien review - biopic charms but never wows

Finnish director Dome Karukoski’s Tolkien follows the same formula of many literary biopics, with a tick-box plot of loves, friendships and hardships that forged the writing career of one the 20th Century’s greatest fantasy writers.We open at the...

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SS Mendi: Dancing the Death Drill, Isango Ensemble, Linbury Theatre - evocative and essential lyric theatre

While Bach's and Handel's Passions have been driving thousands to contemplate suffering, mortality and grace, this elegy for black lives lost over a century ago also chimes movingly with pre-Easter offerings. First seen in Southampton last year as a...

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The Pilgrim’s Progress, RNCM, Manchester review – a theatrical triumph

The Royal Northern College of Music’s spring opera is a theatrical triumph and musically very, very good. It’s 27 years since they last presented what Vaughan Williams called his "morality" – that was a triumph too, and they made a CD of it which I...

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Epiphoni Consort, Reader, St Paul's Covent Garden review - historical drama with seasonal spirit

Like a supermarket "Christmas Dinner" sandwich, cramming the delights of a full festive lunch into every bite, Epiphoni Consort’s The Christmas Truce was at once historical play, choral concert and carol service, and so wonderfully enjoyable I didn’...

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War Requiem, English National Opera review - a striking spectacle, but oddly unmoving

We’re not good at lack these days. Just look at the concert hall, where increasingly you turn up to find not just an orchestra and soloists but a giant screen. Videos, projections, live speakers, "virtual choirs"; if there’s so much as a chink of an...

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Our Classical Century, BBC Four review - enthusiasm and delight

Jerusalem! This fact-studded story of 20th century British music told us that the nation's unofficial national anthem, Hubert Parry’s setting of William Blake’s poem, originated in 1916 as a commission from the “Fight for Right” movement. Officials...

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War Horse, National Theatre review - still touching after all these years

War Horse at the National Theatre on Sunday’s Armistice Day centenary: there were medalled veterans and at least one priest in the rows in front, dark suits and poppies all around, and scarcely a youngster in sight. When the bells rang out in a...

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They Shall Not Grow Old, BBC Two review - Peter Jackson's Great War finale

Peter Jackson has form when it comes to re-examining cinema history. In 1995 he made Forgotten Silver, a documentary about Colin McKenzie, a New Zealand filmmaker who not only made the first sound recordings but also invented the tracking shot and...

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Classical CDs Weekly: A Walk with Ivor Gurney, Yiddish Glory, For the Fallen

 A Walk with Ivor Gurney Tenebrae, Aurora Orchestra, Sarah Connolly, Simon Callow, Nigel Short (conductor) (Signum Classics)Ivor Gurney was a genuine polymath, a talented composer and poet whose career was disrupted by serving with the...

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WW1: The Last Tommies, BBC Four review - Great War stories

“Why should I go out and kill somebody I never knew? There was no reason at all in it in my way of thinking.” Britain’s very last Tommy was Harry Patch, born in 1898, conscripted in 1916 and still alive on his 111th birthday in 2009. He was one of...

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Bury the Dead, Finborough Theatre review - American rarity comes scathingly to life

Bury the Dead was penned by Irwin Shaw in 1936, when the prolific American writer was a fledgling playwright in his early 20s. The Finborough Theatre production marks its first professional UK staging in 80 years and matches this milestone with a...

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