Ayes for eyes Premium

18 August 2016 | by Mark Lawson
The last two Edinburgh Fringe festivals included numerous productions reflecting on Scottish and British politics before and after the independence referendum. But that poll, in September 2014, was perfectly timed for festival deadlines on either side.

Passion and affection Premium

18 August 2016 | by Alan Tyers
Once there must have been life before Rio, a time when one was not adhered to the sofa 16 hours a day watching Czech judokas and tiny Thai weightlifters and slalom canoeists from Stoke do their weird and wonderful things.

Down to the wire with Cable Premium

18 August 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
After first chancing his arm with Michael Heseltine, Peter Hennessy (also a columnist for The Tablet) devoted the second instalment of his new series of Reflections to a sit-down with the former Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Sir Vince Cable (9 August).

Tantrums of a tyrant Premium

18 August 2016 | by Anthony Quinn
In the nature/nurture debate thrumming under the sombre surface of The Childhood of a Leader – the portrait of a tyrant in waiting – first-time director Brady Corbet sits on an iron fence. You could blame the parents, but you might also discern in the story’s moppet dictator a streak of wanton nastiness that is purely his own.

Symphonic richness Premium

18 August 2016 | by Rick Jones
Each of london’s five symphony orchestras has performed in the first five weeks of the Proms. Comparisons would be invidious as they naturally have not played the same piece, but it does demonstrate a rich, thriving culture.

Shadow stories Premium

18 August 2016 | by John Morrish
In this bewildering world, in which barely a week passes without some cruel and bizarre atrocity, it is not surprising that people seek a deeper pattern or meaning in events.

Let there be light Premium

10 August 2016 | by Laura Gascoigne
A show that gives a glimpse of the English Renaissance that might have been

The right acoustic Premium

10 August 2016 | by Rick Jones
Some proms are best away from the Royal Albert Hall

But is it Church? Premium

10 August 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
Spiritual, thoughtful, charitable – and God-free

Passion in a real garden Premium

03 August 2016 | by Mark Lawson
The return of a remarkable fusion of theatre and theology

The eternal moment Premium

03 August 2016 | by Rick Jones
Mahler’s timeless masterpiece

Not quite all over Premium

03 August 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
Replaying England’s football moment of 50 years ago

Edinburgh: the stage is set Premium

28 July 2016 | by Mark Lawson
Edinburgh International Festival 2016

Guitars and pedals Premium

28 July 2016
Edinburgh International Festival 2016

Trivial pursuit Premium

28 July 2016 | by John Morrish
Julian of Norwich’s entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography briefly ponders her somewhat unusual name, then notes: “no other information concerning her identity or origins has come to light”.

Enlightenment and purity Premium

28 July 2016 | by Rick Jones
Soprano Lucy Crowe singing Mozart’s Exsultate, Jubilate was the highlight that started the second week of the Proms – beautifully shaped runs, the lightest ornaments and a top C that crowned the performance like a gentle kiss.

A world of faces Premium

28 July 2016 | by Laura Gascoigne
For summer the Royal Academy’s Sackler Wing galleries have come out in a bright new livery of cherry red. The paint job is in honour of “82 Portraits and 1 Still-life” (until 2 October), the latest artistic tour de force from David Hockney.

When birth brings death Premium

28 July 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
As might have been expected from its title, Emma Beck’s heartfelt documentary (22 July) was full of deeply arresting sound bites. “Somebody say something,” a bereaved mother remembered asking a room full of clinicians, each of whom stood staring at an ultrasound scan confirming that prenatal movement had ceased.

Fathomless faith Premium

21 July 2016 | by Laura Gascoigne
“Since the magic moment when I first opened my eyes in the sea, I have never been able to see, think or live as I did before,” wrote the French pioneer of underwater exploration, Jacques Cousteau.

Constant recall Premium

21 July 2016 | by Mark Lawson
A celebrated novel about persistent recollection has now become a distant memory for its earliest readers. Anyone who was on the brink of their teens – the age of the book’s protagonist, Leo Colston, for most of the action – when L.P. Hartley’s novel The Go-Between came out in 1953 would now be 75, a decade senior to the “old Leo” who narrates the novel.

Everything understood Premium

21 July 2016 | by Rick Jones
The opening weekend of the 2016 Proms took just the first evening to find its feet. Tchaikovsky’s wordless fantasy on Romeo and Juliet was to have begun the season but now followed an unscheduled Marseillaise, in defiant response to the Bastille Day killings.

Spy in the ointment Premium

21 July 2016 | by John Morrish
With a drama series that deals with terrorism and anarchy, the BBC seems to be attempting to upset the cosy conventions of Sunday night television. But at the same time, its adaptation of The Secret Agent (from 17 July) retained the surface attributes of the Victorian costume drama: street urchins, women in aprons and a steam train or two.

The write touch Premium

21 July 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
Our very own Mark Lawson began his spirited dash through the life and times of Daniel Defoe (14 July) with an inspection of the subject categories in Hatchards, Piccadilly.

Bard at the Proms Premium

14 July 2016 | by Rick Jones
The official guide to this summer’s Proms, which began last night, is 170 pages long and needs a guide itself to negotiate, so here goes. Ahead of the Last Night on 10 September are 88 concerts, mostly at the Royal Albert Hall, which in this Shakespearean season one might call the Kensington O, much as The Globe Theatre was “the wooden O” in Henry V.

American icon Premium

14 July 2016 | by Laura Gascoigne
How does an artist become an icon? It helps to have an iconic face. Look at Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, or Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe. Kahlo had a major exhibition at Tate Modern in 2005; O’Keeffe (1887-1986) is being honoured with one now (until 30 October).

Journey of hope Premium

14 July 2016 | by John Morrish
While Britain has been convulsed by the European Union referendum vote and its consequences, the refugee crisis has carried on as usual. We just don’t hear so much about it.

Seeing is believing Premium

14 July 2016 | by Mark Lawson
In theatre there are only a few examples – Stephen Sondheim’s musical Merrily We Roll Along is one – of a show that flops when first produced, then enters the repertoire through revivals. Even rarer is a play that starts as a fabled disaster and is later acclaimed as a masterpiece. But such is the case with the Northern Irish playwright Brian Friel’s Faith Healer.

Mind over matter Premium

14 July 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
A pair of ingenious pieces of drama, developed in conjunction with the Wellcome Trust’s Experimental Stories scheme and directed by Nadia Molinari, could only be described as examinations of consciousness.

Here’s looking at you, war Premium

06 July 2016 | by Anthony Quinn
Almost the first thing you see on entering Real to Reel: A Century of War Movies (to 8 January 2017) is a ghostly monochrome sequence of a gigantic explosion. It is of a mine going up at precisely 7.20 a.m. on 1 July 1916, at Hawthorn Ridge on the Somme.

Crowning glory Premium

06 July 2016 | by Joanna Moorhead
“You rocked the palace!” shouted Prince Harry to Chris Martin across the stage at Kensington Palace; and there was really no better verdict on the Sentebale Concert than that.

Masterful masterclasses Premium

06 July 2016 | by Mark Lawson
The question of what makes great theatre acting can attain a near-theological complexity. The most workable definition for me is that the stage greats give an account of their characters that is physically and psychologically convincing and compelling, finding moments that another actor – or even the writer – would not have noticed. This lightning struck twice last week.

The grateful deaf Premium

06 July 2016 | by John Morrish
Deafness is a sensory impairment, but if you are deaf – or Deaf – it is also central to your membership of a strong community with its own institutions and, crucially, language.

Living with the consequences Premium

06 July 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
The first instalment of Mike Wooldridge’s new four-parter (3 July) began deep in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. This – with forays into South Dakota – was the setting for an immensely poignant account of the tribulations visited upon an extended Denver family named Arnold, numbers of whom had been directly affected by the fallout of a heart-rending dilemma centred on thirtysomething Chad.

Let there be light Premium

29 June 2016 | by Robert Thicknesse
A curious thing happened to English music after the glories of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries – Byrd, Tallis, Dowland, Purcell and the rest: native talent ran dry, and we became the sluggards of Europe. On the plus side, we took to importing talented foreigners and making them superstars. From the time of Handel onwards, London was the place where they could find fame – and loads of money.

Open to the world Premium

29 June 2016 | by Laura Gascoigne
The unveiling of a bigger, better Tate Modern marks a “landmark moment”, said Lord Browne, chairman of Tate Trustees, at the recent press launch of the gallery’s new extension. “At a time when some would seek to turn inwards, the new Tate Modern is a reminder of what can be achieved when we remain open to the world’s ideas and cultures.”

Analysing the analyst Premium

29 June 2016 | by John Morrish
When historians present television programmes, should they stick to what they know? This week, for instance, Freud: Genius of the Modern World (30 June) was presented by Bettany Hughes, an expert on Ancient Greece.

Age before beauty Premium

29 June 2016 | by Mark Lawson
One of the first shows in the year-long London West End residency of Kenneth Branagh’s company was Terence Rattigan’s Harlequinade, a farce about a production of Shakespeare’s teenage tragedy in which Branagh played a Shakespearean veteran still squeezing into Romeo’s tights despite arthritis.

A Greene, unpleasant land Premium

29 June 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
Lady Diana Cooper, who took a keen interest in both men, once remarked that whereas Evelyn Waugh was “a bad man for whom an angel was struggling”, his fellow Catholic convert Graham Greene was “a good man possessed of a devil”.

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