Arts

The Ben Uri's latest show comes out fighting on behalf of Polish-born artists who, apart from Sheffield’s Graves Gallery’s enterprising 2014 exhibition “Pole Position”, have been largely ignored by our public galleries.

Set to an old-fashioned libretto, La clemenza di Tito presents an unadorned face to the world, far from the bumptious joys of Figaro and The Magic Flute, and yet it attains extraordinary depths of luminous enlightenment.

Thomas More’s Utopia was published 500 years ago last year, so BBC4’s current three-part series Utopia: In Search of the Dream is not so much in search of a topicality as behind the curve.

Despite the huge popularity of his musicals, or possibly because of it, Andrew Lloyd Webber has been regarded as unfashionable for most of his career. As his seventieth birthday approaches, however, his works are in high demand.

For an A-grade English comedian, P.G. Wodehouse turns out to have spent remarkably little time in his native land. There were childhood stints in late-Victorian Hong Kong, with his colonial magistrate father, successful raids on Great War-era Broadway (where he married an actress) and 1920s Hollywood, followed by tax exile in 1930s France.

Since 2014, when the Festival coincided with the final run-up to the Scottish Independence referendum, making plays a part of the campaign, politics has become a special subject at Edinburgh.

Some ideas just seem so brilliant, so breathtakingly obvious, that you can only slap the forehead and wonder why they haven’t been standard practice for years. This was certainly my reaction while watching the first episode of Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds (1 August).

One of the tangential pleasures of opera-going is the insight it affords into how very, very bad nineteenth-century theatre must have been.

Julie Myerson once produced a book in which she attempted to track down everyone who had ever lived in her south London house. In the week-long series Door Stepping (31 July to 4 August), Jude Rogers had the equally bright, if slightly easier, idea of revisiting every home in which she herself had resided.

It seemed the God of Thunder was in town as an explosive timpani roar began both Proms at the weekend.

Here is an interesting question: does a Catholic upbringing produce more thoughtful conceptual art? Or is it because I am on the same wavelength that I think so?

Rights to life and death are regularly aired in court … Against such issues, the question of whether there is a human right to parenthood can seem self-indulgent and even minor – except, of course, to those who are unwillingly childless

The sudden death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in a car crash in a Paris tunnel, and the ensuing public outpouring of emotion seem, in hindsight, to be so strange as to be almost surreal. This documentary (24 July), marked 20 years since Diana’s death, and brought many memories back.

Film-maker Terence Davies once told me how as a teenager – Catholic, in the closet, terrified – he saw Victim … About 20 minutes into the story a police detective lets slip the word “homosexual”. As Davies recalled of the audience, “you could have heard a pin drop”.

With a punning title, this feature on the plight of Anglican religious communities (21 July) was both irresistible and inaccurate.

Helen Edmundson’s title character, Anne Stuart (1665-1714), the daughter of James II, had a life unusually shaped by faith. As a young woman, her Protestant piety was much advertised in order to appease those who feared that her father’s monarchy was sliding back towards Rome: he framed, in 1687, an extended version of Charles II’s Declaration of Indulgence, which promoted tolerance towards Catholics and Dissenters.

The Beguiled, one of five movies made by director Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood, came out in 1971 … Sofia Coppola has transformed this material – a domestic horror movie – into something magical, part comedy of manners, part submerged fairytale.

A wild night opened the 123rd season of the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts – The Proms – with the host BBC Symphony Orchestra’s performance of the short, fresh, invigorating world premiere of St John’s Dance by 29-year-old British composer Tom Coult. The piece starts with a stutter in the strings then flings lightly at manic, constantly changing speeds and rhythms …

The “Soul of a Nation” exhibition, which opened last week at Tate Modern, offered Free Thinking (12 July) a welcome opportunity to explore some of the connections between black American art in the age of Eldridge Cleaver and Angela Davis and the UK’s very own late 1960s and 1970s Black Panther movement.

I Know Who You Are, a Spanish thriller set against the background of the legal and judicial system … is shaping up well … I don’t know much about how the Spanish legal system works but it still seems doubtful that a trial would go ahead when quite so many of the prosecution and defence lawyers, to say nothing of the defendant, were or had been sleeping with each other.

Tiny treasures Premium

13 July 2017 | by Laura Gascoigne
Show-stopping art in the palm of a hand

Generation game Premium

13 July 2017 | by Mark Lawson
Passing on wisdom

Portrait of the artist … Premium

13 July 2017 | by Lucy Lethbridge
Teenage talent scrutinised

Losing their language Premium

13 July 2017 | by D.J. Taylor
Vanishing dialects

Better by the book Premium

13 July 2017 | by Anthony Quinn
A disappointing adaption

Recent events have challenged the British tendency to regard the story of Ireland as intractable, impenetrable and best left to those who have to live through it.

Can the world be saved? And is opera a sensible place to work out how? Richard Wagner would say yes to both. 

Now in its fourteenth series, the many delights of Who Do You Think You Are? haven’t dimmed. A celebrity is taken back into the past by historians and genealogists to find out about their ancestors. There are always wild surprises …

Heaven scent: a survey of serious smells Premium

06 July 2017 | by Suzi Feay

The “Born in Bradford” (BiB) project began as long ago as 2007, when the founding cohort of expectant mothers was piped on board by one of the city’s antenatal clinics. Ten years later, there was a feeling that much of West Yorkshire had been turned into a giant research lab …

Blessed are the peacemakers Premium

29 June 2017 | by Laura Gascoigne
The Imperial War Museum was founded in 1917 during the First World War; within a generation, the Second World War had broken out.

Time travel Premium

29 June 2017 | by Mark Lawson
How past, present and future interlock

A dog's life Premium

29 June 2017 | by Lucy Lethbridge
Pooches on pedestal

Holland’s hidden cathedral Premium

29 June 2017 | by Joanna Moorhead
Celebrating Dutch tolerance

Scents of the souk Premium

29 June 2017 | by D.J. Taylor
Through a blind man’s eyes

'Flowing, loving, flowering' Premium

22 June 2017 | by Peter Stanford
“We want to be experts in presence,” says founder of L’Arche Jean Vanier, halfway through Summer in the Forest. He is explaining the essential ethos of L’Arche’s 149 communities of people with learning disabilities in 37 countries: “We take time, and we waste time, to become who we are called to be.”

Bottom-drawer genius Premium

22 June 2017 | by Mark Lawson
You would not think a dramatist could suffer for having written too many great plays. But because Arthur Miller left a quartet of masterpieces – The Crucible, A View from the Bridge, Death of a Salesman and All My Sons – there is little inclination to root around in the bottom of the drawer.

Out from the shadows Premium

22 June 2017 | by Laura Gascoigne
“Giovanni da Rimini: A 14th-Century Masterpiece Unveiled” (until 8 October) celebrates the donation to the gallery by Ronald S. Lauder that allowed it to acquire a devotional panel by the Riminese artist depicting Scenes from the Lives of the Virgin and Other Saints, which makes its first appearance in this Room 1 exhibition

Love on the Heath Premium

22 June 2017 | by Anthony Quinn
Diane Keaton plays Emily, left broke and boiling mad by her feckless late husband. One day, spying through her binoculars, she spots Donald (Brendan Gleeson), long-time resident of a sylvan shack nestled in the woods. She goes in search of him, they meet and they – well, I think you know what’s coming.

Raising the dead Premium

22 June 2017 | by D.J. Taylor
Hilary Mantel has always written engagingly about her family’s history. Remembering her childhood in the memoir, Giving Up the Ghost, she noted that the relatives who referred to her as “Our ’ilary” had “aspirations but no aspirates”. The starring family member in the first of this year’s Reith Lectures (13 June) was her maternal great-grandmother, Katherine O’Shea, a mill worker from County Waterford …

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