- Battle lines drawn
This week produced the clearest evidence yet that the Synod Fathers are sharply divided between those who are supporting Pope Francis in his efforts to present a more pastoral vision of the Church and those determined first and foremost to emphasise its moral teaching
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- Pope Francis invokes Paul VI's call for the Church to adapt to respond to changing 'needs of our time'
- Bishops pass synod document but fail to agree on three measures for care of remarried or gay Catholics
- Politicians and policy makers back Catholic Social Teaching as solution to economic crisis
- Francis picks Brentwood priest for biblical commission
His work is little known outside his native Italy. But an exhibition opening next week suggests Moroni is one of the great artists of the Counter Reformation
One of the features that distinguishes theatrical drama from TV and film is that the same script can be given two radically different productions.
To this pair of ears, Neil MacGregor’s wildly successful A History of the World in 100 Objects delivered rather less than it promised.
The record industry now produces so much music on so many CDs per month that it is not at all unusual to receive simultaneous accounts of the same piece. This happened recently when two versions of Schumann’s Second Symphony arrived.
It hardly needs saying: David Belasco’s 1905 play The Girl of the Golden West would be hooted off the stage these days, for its clichés, its gimcrack realism, its sentimentality, its tawdry domesticity, its sheer dumbness.
Rarely has archive footage been so revealing as that in Cosmonauts (13 October), a 90-minute documentary about the Soviet space programme; but the revelations in the clips only served to the incurious nature of the film as a whole.
One of the theatrical trends of the moment seems, somewhat unexpectedly, to be monologues about Jesus Christ. After Fiona Shaw’s glorious performance at the Barbican in Colm Tóibín’s adaptation of his novella The Testament of Mary, in which Christ’s mother struggled to explain and accept the fate of her son, Simon Callow is performing in The Man Jesus this autumn.
It often takes a few decades, if not centuries, to gain dramatic perspective on history. By contrast, the plight of the individual, the foot soldier as it were, remains poignantly unchanged through millennia.
ONE OF the pleasures of living in a reasonably affluent area is that as you walk the streets at dusk, you can peer into well-lit basement kitchens. Look at those appliances! Those worktops! The tiling! What are they eating?
You could tell how seriously the BBC was taking this update on the status of the papacy (2 October) from the choice of reporter. None of the corporation’s religious correspondents got so much as a look in; such well-known Catholic trusties as Edward Stourton and Lord (Peter) Hennessy were barred the door.
“THE SOUND of water escaping from mill dams, willows, old rotten planks, slimy posts and brickwork. I love such things. These scenes made me a painter.” From this famous statement sprang the romantic myth of John Constable (1776-1837) the natural-born artist who drew his inspiration direct from the River Stour.
In david fincher’s Gone Girl, the opening sequence starts quietly enough. We are in an affluent (but not too swanky) suburb early in the morning. Nothing stirs except the wildlife, raccoons or opossums, even the odd deer, wandering the lawns, nosing at the bins.
The “last days” assembled by this excellent five-parter (22-26 September) took a variety of forms. There was Madeleine, the school administrator, saying goodbye to colleagues and pupils after 22 years in the saddle;
VERDI BELIEVED wholeheartedly in the Furies. In Il trovatore, the characters are tormented by a malevolent doom that pervades the universe; in La forza del destino, the same malign force pursues people across continents like a disembodied medieval Terminator.
Many admired the first series of Peaky Blinders for its unusual setting – Birmingham at the time of the First World War – as much as for its subject matter: gang violence. This week (2 October) it came back in a new series, and it is worth asking what the series has to offer beyond novelty.
Sometimes THEATRICAL schedules bring happy accidental overlaps and, opening on consecutive nights last week, were plays, written 132 years apart, that both dramatise whistle-blowing and activism.
A schoolboy has a scary dream, gets attacked by a snake, is sent on a mystic mission to defeat evil and rescue a kidnapped girl, and in a startling Patty Hearst moment ends up joining the smug Masonic outfit behind the kidnapping, and marrying the girl in a ceremony organised by them …
When a black-and-white film from Poland, spare in style, about a young woman about to become a nun, wins more than 20 international awards, you know something is going on.
Back in the 1940s George Orwell famously remarked: “Poetry on the air sounds like the Muses in striped trousers.” And how does poetry on the air sound in 2014?
The playwright Richard Bean has recently become the toast of the National Theatre – with his journalistic comedy Great Britain following the smash-hit farce One Man, Two Guvnors from the South Bank to the West End – and now a smaller London venue usefully and enterprisingly takes us back to the start of this flourishing career with Toast.
Ebola sounds like something from science fiction, with its sudden arrival, terrifying contagiousness and shocking fatality rate. And that impression is only redoubled when you see the doctors and nurses struggling to combat it, clad head to toe in what look more like space suits than hospital scrubs.
In 1846 A respectable couple moved into a riverside cottage on the Thames at Chelsea. Mrs Booth was in her late forties; her other half – dubbed “Admiral Booth” by the local tradespeople – was 20 years older.
IN HIS SONGS, Nick Cave descends to the catacombs of the imagination, drawing on myth, mysticism and religion. You might encounter Lazarus or Orpheus, Old Testament fury or glory, and always lurking, the threat of damnation, the sweet promise of salvation.
THE LIVES OF artists, or artistes, can be full of drama. But the life of Cilla Black does not seem to have been among the most eventful. Cilla (15 September) is a three-part biography of the enduring entertainer, starting with her life as a typist in early-1960s Liverpool.
LENNY HENRY, I thought to myself as the first strains of the Velvet Underground broke upon the early morning air: what better choice could there be to front up a programme about Andy Warhol? He is certain to be exuberant.
HISTORICAL NOVELS are often given a second life by anniversaries of the events depicted and Pat Barker’s Regeneration, shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1991, has cannily been adapted as a drama (co-produced by the Northampton theatres with the Touring Consortium Theatre Company) to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War.
WHEN NIETZSCHE was asked in what category he placed his book Also sprach Zarathustra, he replied “Symphonies”, so it was appropriate when his younger contemporary Mahler set a text from it at the heart of his Third Symphony, completed in 1896 (the same year as Strauss’ wordless Also sprach … ).