Arts

Belief in the future Premium

16 February 2017 | by Laura Gascoigne
“All great art is essentially an act of faith, Christian or otherwise,” wrote a schoolboy critic in a review for Kingswood School magazine of a touring exhibition of sacred art in 1964.

Staged exit Premium

16 February 2017 | by Mark Lawson
The right of the seriously ill to end their own lives feels a very contemporary debate, but has been examined theatrically since at least the late nineteenth century, when a mother dispatched her syphilitic son in Ibsen’s Ghosts (1882).

Electric Bach Premium

16 February 2017 | by Rick Jones
When the choir of The Sixteen sings Bach, it is like switching on electricity. From a standing start, suddenly they are in the middle of flowing counterpoint: perfectly synchronised parts enter with imperceptible attack as the current picks up where it left off, usually two nights previously.

Made in heaven? Premium

16 February 2017 | by Lucy Lethbridge
Channel 4 marked the eve of St Valentine’s Day with a documentary that held a scented candle to the rites of modern romance. Yet though it may not have been its intention, The Wedding Day (13 February) was both timid and snide.

Pocket books Premium

16 February 2017 | by D.J. Taylor
The writer Nicholas Royle began his exploration of the world of the unreturned library book (9 February) at Manchester Central Library. Keeping his voice down, in what, he explained had been his teenage stamping ground, he confessed himself a serial offender.

Northern exposure Premium

09 February 2017 | by Laura Gascoigne
In the main square of Kingston upon Hull, a gigantic wing has fallen from the sky. Or so it seems. Did it belong to a bird? Was it attached to a plane?

States of the nation Premium

09 February 2017 | by Mark Lawson
Becoming popular after the Second World War, the so-called “State of England” play summed up political and social tensions through a suggestive setting: a music hall in John Osborne’s The Entertainer, a cabin cruiser in Alan Ayckbourn’s Way Upstream, a battered caravan in Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem.

Slavery unbound Premium

09 February 2017 | by Lucy Lethbridge
Exactly 40 years ago, the final episode of the television adaption of Alex Haley’s Pulitzer-winning novel Roots attracted 100 million viewers, a record beaten only by the finale of M*A*S*H a few years later.

Horror on a plate Premium

09 February 2017 | by Robert Thicknesse
Opera has often been about appetite – but never quite like this. Tarrare – it is a true story, or founded in truth – was an unlucky French boy in revolutionary Paris whose constant enormous hunger led him to wolf down anything he could lay his hands on – rocks, cats, trash, half a cow, you name it.

A writer and a wife Premium

09 February 2017 | by D.J. Taylor
Margaret Forster died in February 2016 at the age of 77. A year on, this commemoration fronted by Roger Bolton (7 February) was resolutely informal, and consisted mostly of her husband and fellow writer, Hunter Davies, roaming through the houses they had shared in London and the Lake District, reminiscing about the six decades they had together and grimly setting about, as he put it, “dismantling a life”.

The riches of religious history Premium

02 February 2017 | by Terry Philpot

Sun, snow – and war Premium

02 February 2017 | by Laura Gascoigne
In November 1917, British troops arriving at Ventimiglia near Genoa were greeted with showers of carnations and barrels of wine. After the Italians’ disastrous defeat at Caporetto, the British had despatched an Expeditionary Force to the Italian defensive lines on the River Piave, and the change from the trenches felt as good as a holiday.

Sweet travels Premium

02 February 2017 | by D.J. Taylor
Despatched to the ancient world to explore the early history of apiary, Martha Kearney was clearly having a terrific time (27 January).

An uninvited guest Premium

02 February 2017 | by Mark Lawson
The social gathering that is ruined by an unexpected or uncooperative visitor is a reliable theatrical conceit: from J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls through Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests to Yasmina Reza’s The God of Carnage.

Postcards from the edge Premium

02 February 2017 | by Lucy Lethbridge
Can a community be created artificially, or does it have to emerge organically? This is one of the questions asked in a documentary about Britain’s remotest island, Fair Isle, situated in turbulent seas between Orkney and Shetland.

Colonialism by the book Premium

25 January 2017 | by Mark Lawson
When a country covets the soil of another, it also tends to want its soul. Colonialism and evangelism have often been linked, missionaries confirming on a Sunday the Western foundations laid by mining corporations and administrators during the week.

A response to catastrophe Premium

25 January 2017 | by Joanna Moorhead
In 1937, at the height of the Spanish Civil War, that terrible prequel to the even bigger war that was about to engulf the whole of Europe, Pablo Picasso wrote: “I have always believed and still believe that artists who live and work with spiritual values cannot and should not remain indifferent to a conflict in which the highest values of humanity and civilisation are at stake.”

From Russia with rhythm Premium

25 January 2017 | by Rick Jones
Equality of the sexes is written into Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto and the Soviet system produced several great female composers even without a feminist movement.

Mary Queen of Scots and Brexit Premium

25 January 2017 | by D.J. Taylor
There is a newspaper article waiting to be written about how the producers of In Our Time arrive at their weekly topic.

An urban jail Premium

25 January 2017 | by Lucy Lethbridge
Last year I attended a conference in London during which a woman in the audience shouted: “I am not a slave.” She then started to berate the British press and Establishment and called for the release of Aravindan Balakrishnan, jailed for 23 years in 2015 for crimes including rape, false imprisonment and child cruelty.

Highly mannered Premium

19 January 2017 | by Anthony Quinn
The subject presents a double challenge – to make a movie about the most famous First Lady in American history and, with the possible exception of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the most famous assassination of the twentieth century.

Gyorgy Ligeti, author of Le Grand Macabre, knew a bit about death and absurdity: a Hungarian Jew, born in 1923, he lost most of his family in concentration camps, and then endured the circus of communism before escaping in 1956.

Too high a price Premium

19 January 2017 | by Lucy Lethbridge
Antiques Roadshow, which first aired on the BBC in 1979, has remained almost unchanged for 40 years; playing to a very British appetite for historical anecdote as well as bargain hunting, it has been a Sunday evening ratings favourite.

What if? Premium

19 January 2017 | by Mark Lawson
In Thornton Wilder’s great novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, a friar investigates the lives of five people who died when a bridge collapsed in Peru, seeking meaning as to why the quintet perished.

Behind the silver screen Premium

19 January 2017 | by D.J. Taylor
It must be all of 20 years since Matthew Sweet first took up residence on Radios 3 and 4, but through all that time his demeanour has remained exactly the same: the boyish enthusiasms; the learning lightly worn;

Wordless voices Premium

12 January 2017 | by Rick Jones
It is one of the mysteries of life that the language of music, while being inadequate to describe a chair or what we had for lunch, can say everything there is to say about fear, love, awe and other complex emotions that words often struggle with.

New faces and past times Premium

12 January 2017 | by Mark Lawson
A pair of much anticipated revivals in the shadow of Waterloo Bridge represent theatre respectively at its most feminine and masculine.

Techno trap Premium

12 January 2017 | by D.J. Taylor
Very seldom do I emerge from a cinema longing to burst into song and to tap dance along the pavement. But that is how I felt coming out of La La Land, and maybe you will too.

Singing and dancing in LA Premium

12 January 2017 | by Anthony Quinn
Very seldom do I emerge from a cinema longing to burst into song and to tap dance along the pavement. But that is how I felt coming out of La La Land, and maybe you will too.

The price of inheritance Premium

12 January 2017 | by Lucy Lethbridge
Now that the British actor Tom Hardy has become a Hollywood star, he can choose his projects – and in the lavish new eight-episode miniseries Taboo (7 January), he told a newspaper, he was offered the kind of starring role he has always wanted: part Bill Sikes, part Hannibal Lector and with a dash of Mr Darcy thrown in.

Of saints and sinners Premium

04 January 2017 | by Mark Lawson
Unusual choices of two seasonal shows put Catholicism unexpectedly centre stage in London theatre. In the final scene of one, a piece of wall falls down to reveal a hidden monstrance, while the other closes with an image of a sunlit altar set for Mass.

Youth and the end of an epoch Premium

04 January 2017 | by Robert Thicknesse
Richard Strauss’ best-known work looks like the popular idea of what opera is: an anguished soprano drifts around a drawing room in a big frock while the massive orchestra heaves and cascades around her in tones of impossible voluptuousness. What is she on about? Does it matter?

A new Madonna in town Premium

04 January 2017 | by Joanna Moorhead
It is impossible not to feel overwhelmed by the British Museum. The antidote, as with all museums, is to home in on one gallery or period of history; or even one object – particularly if that object is the museum’s most significant recent acquisition, a comely 30in tall alabaster sculpture of the Virgin Mary and her infant son.

Showing the invisible Premium

04 January 2017 | by Laura Gascoigne
Outside the Imperial War Museum, a small boy runs to photograph the 15in naval guns on his father’s phone. During the holidays the museum is a magnet for boys of all ages, bursting as it is with military toys. But in the excitement over the monumental hardware, some smaller exhibits are being overlooked.

Investigating a massacre Premium

04 January 2017 | by D.J. Taylor
The panel of talking heads convened in Times columnist Tim Montgomerie’s absorbing documentary (28 December) had grave doubts over the authenticity of King Herod’s massacre of male newborns in the Bethlehem area.

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