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.
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.
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 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.
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).
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.
Here’s looking at you, war Premium06 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.
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 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.
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.
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.”
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.
“Doodle like da Vinci to strengthen your memory and beat creative block,” recommended the email from Cass Art that recently dropped into my mailbox. Along with colouring, doodling is the latest relaxation fad for stressed adults. Is this just another example of our society’s infantilisation, or is there more to it?
The tormented king (the frightful Philip II) fears his son Carlo is plotting against him, so he calls up the Grand Inquisitor and asks if he has the right, the justification, to have his son killed. “Why not?” says the priest. God did. Then he and Philip lay on an IS-style mass-execution of heretic Flemings to make a point about peacekeeping.
Divorce and family breakdown are horrible, especially if you seek resolution in the courts, which are both gladiatorial and extortionate. In Mr v Mrs: Call the Mediator (21 June) we were shown the alternative: meeting outside the court system and trying to find common ground.
Making fairy tales its business, Disney Theatrical Productions has become something of a business fairy tale. Set up by the movie company in 1993 to turn hit children’s films into stage shows, DTP has made billions from The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins and others.
What is most extraordinary about Rievaulx, the twelfth-century Cistercian abbey in Yorkshire, is that it is there at all. One minute you are cruising down a remote country lane, passing hawthorn bushes and fields full of sheep and the occasional cottage; and the next minute, wham!
In the late 1930s, as Europe teetered towards war, an American woman travelled feverishly around the continent buying up an essential commodity that she believed would be at dire risk in a Nazi-run continent and that would be an essential building-block to a post-war future.
One of the turning points in the public estimation of Tony Blair was when he was challenged in his own constituency by Reg Keys, who had lost a son fighting in Iraq. Keys’ passionate speech at the 2005 election count provided one of the most uncomfortable moments of Blair’s career.
Summer rosé compared Premium09 June 2016
In two weeks’ time, the Great British Public will have made up its mind about continuing or ending membership of the European Union. Many wine enthusiasts are predicting that a Brexit vote would mean new trade tariffs, which could send the price of European wine rocketing.
The theatre director Phillip Breen starts a new production with an exercise book listing, on one page, the characters in each scene and, opposite, how he visualises the staging. For his latest show, though, no stationer’s shop sold a volume that was up to the task.
Another Austen Premium02 June 2016 | by Anthony Quinn
Whit Stillman proved himself a dab hand at high-society comedy as long ago as 1990 with his brittle debut Metropolitan, an ensemble portrait of gilded Manhattan youth trying on adult attitudes for size. A couple more films followed, then a long silence until Damsels in Distress arrived, and underwhelmed, in 2011.
For many, the Cannes Film Festival is suggestive of a slightly tacky glamour. The French have long taken le cinéma seriously, however, and for all the red-carpet posturing, the world’s most famous film festival is indubitably a celebration of an illustrious international art form.
Until 2015, the abbreviation LFBM stood for the Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music but the airline sponsor withdrew after three decades and now the “L” stands for London. Without a principal backer, the programme has shrunk a little but audiences and artists have remained loyal both to each other and to a great institution.
There is definitely a gap in the television market for short, dark plays with creepy and fantastical twists. The question is whether there is a market in the gap. Would anyone today watch something like Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected? Or do they get all the weirdness they want from Doctor Who?
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