fri 28/01/2022

theartsdesk com, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

Mark Kidel
Friday, 28 January 2022
Dr Semmelweis, a star vehicle for Mark Rylance, one of Britain’s most versatile and talented actors, fills the Bristol Old Vic with a dizzying kaleidoscope of words, sounds and...
Sarah Kent
Friday, 28 January 2022
America in Crisis revisits an exhibition staged in 1969 soon after Richard Nixon was elected President. Pictures taken by 18 Magnum photographers including Elliott Erwitt and Mary...
Liz Thomson
Friday, 28 January 2022
A confession – one I have made down the years too many friends, who mostly disagree. I have never much liked Joni Mitchell. Yes, she has written some good and enduring songs, but...
Tim Cumming
Thursday, 27 January 2022
Malian kora master Ballake Sissoko is a griot steeped in the musical and cultural traditions of West Africa, whose duets with his cousin Toumani Diabate on the world music classic...
Sarah Kent
Thursday, 27 January 2022
Francis Bacon Man and Beast fills most of the main galleries at the Royal Academy. Thankfully, five of the rooms are empty. The exhibition is such a dispiriting experience, I’d...
Ismene Brown
Thursday, 27 January 2022
“The penis. Have you or have you not discussed the penis?” The question that haunts every journalist commissioned to ghost the memoirs of a Hollywood legend (female). Get the dirt...
Joe Muggs
Thursday, 27 January 2022
Michael Stafford aka Maverick Sabre is the definition of a modern journeyman vocalist. Since 2008 he’s released three albums...
Saskia Baron
Wednesday, 26 January 2022
Do we need another documentary about Nazi Germany? Yes, when it is as cogent and subtle as Luke Holland’s Final Account....
Veronica Lee
Wednesday, 26 January 2022
Lots of stand-ups plunder their personal lives for material – whether it's about friends, parents, children or partners –...
Graham Fuller
Wednesday, 26 January 2022
Six months after the release of Common Ground, neo-proggers Big Big Train return with another album of meticulously crafted...
Adam Sweeting
Tuesday, 25 January 2022
Cops on the box… don’t we just love ‘em? From Jimmy Perez and Ted Hastings to Inspector Reid from Ripper Street and Stella...
Ian Julier
Tuesday, 25 January 2022
Focusing on music composed in the former countries of the old Soviet Union, the BSO’s latest concert in Kirill Karabits’...
Markie Robson-Scott
Tuesday, 25 January 2022
Free Love opens in 1967 and remains within that heady era throughout; no flashbacks, no spanning of generations as in Hadley...
Justine Elias
Tuesday, 25 January 2022
Champion (1949), one of many boxing films of the 1930s and 1940s, made a sculpture – and a star – of Kirk Douglas. In one of...
David Nice
Monday, 24 January 2022
History’s most grotesque act of cynicism has to be the model ghetto the Nazis mocked up for the cameras in Terezin/...
Jessica Duchen
Monday, 24 January 2022
This remarkable evening should really have been more remarkable still. The unfortunate pianist Cédric Tiberghien took an...
Sebastian Scotney
Monday, 24 January 2022
Fiona Monbet is a phenomenal violinist with a huge expressive range. Her credentials, above all in jazz, are impeccable: the...
Kieron Tyler
Sunday, 23 January 2022
What’s now been titled The 1959 Sessions represents an unreleased studio album completed by the Stan Tracey Trio on 5 and 8...
Adam Sweeting
Saturday, 22 January 2022
There has been no shortage of documentaries about king Beach Boy Brian Wilson, not to mention the 2014 bio-drama Love &...

★★★★ THE RESPONDER, BBC ONE Martin Freeman rides alone through the existential night

★★★★★ FINAL ACCOUNT Luke Holland's final documentary is a searing examination of Hitler's Germany

★★★★ TESSA HADLEY: FREE LOVE The Sixties, the suburbs and the hippie dream


★★★ AVA: THE SECRET CONVERSATIONS, RIVERSIDE STUDIOS Elizabeth McGovern is glamorous but unrevealing as Ava Gardner

★★★ MAVERICK SABRE - DON'T FORGET TO LOOK UP Understatement and introspection from the Anglo-Irish soul journeyman

★★★ ALAN CARR, MILTON KEYNES THEATRE Comic keeps it relentlessly light

★★★ FRANCIS BACON: MAN AND BEAST, ROYAL ACADEMY From raw emotion to elegant displays of self loathing


Final Account: Storyville, BBC Four review - confessions of the last survivors of the Nazi era

Luke Holland's final documentary is a searing examination of Hitler's Germany

The Responder, BBC One review - the loneliness of the long-distance copper

Martin Freeman rides alone through the existential night

Rules of the Game, BBC One review - feminist workplace drama topples into farce

Screenwriter Ruth Fowler's characters turn into caricatures


Blu-ray: Champion

The bruising film noir that put Kirk Douglas's name in lights

Nightmare Alley review - a dazzling trip through a heart of darkness

Bradley Cooper shines in Guillermo del Toro's lurid pulp fiction

new music

Album: Janis Ian - The Light at the End of the Line

A unique voice, a singular talent

Ballake Sissoko & Vincent Segal, Roundhouse review - kora and cello combined

The Malian master and French cellist demonstrate the powers of lyrical string theory

Album: Maverick Sabre - Don't Forget to Look Up

Understatement and introspection from the Anglo-Irish soul journeyman


Bournemouth SO, Karabits, Lighthouse, Poole review - go east!

Cracking chemistry between fine players and their chief conductor

Total Immersion: Music for the End of Time review - miracles from the house of the dead

Czech-Jewish composers murdered by the Nazis live again in magnificent performances

LPO, Canellakis, Royal Festival Hall review - ecstatic sonorities at full pelt

Ideal chemistry of orchestra and conductor in a truncated but glorious concert


Total Immersion: Music for the End of Time review - miracles from the house of the dead

Czech-Jewish composers murdered by the Nazis live again in magnificent performances

First Person: Femi Elufowoju Jr. on directing Verdi's 'Rigoletto'

A theatre director's take on his first opera as he rehearses in Leeds

Nabucco, Royal Opera review - high passion but low drama

Atmospheric but ambiguous production, given extra weight by cast of rich voices


Dr Semmelweis, Bristol Old Vic review - dazzling but overloaded
Mark Rylance brilliant as rebel doctor in a show let down by an overdose of ingenuity
Ava: The Secret Conversations, Riverside Studios, Hammersmith review - about Ava Gardner's effing
Elizabeth McGovern is glamorous but unrevealing as the gloriously foul-mouthed Ava
Moulin Rouge! The Musical, Piccadilly Theatre review - spectacular escapism
Baz Luhrmann's jukebox fantasy is the perfect antidote to Covid gloom


Best of 2021: Dance

There was gold among the rubble in this wreck of a year for dance

Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker!, Sadler's Wells Theatre review - new candy, but the nuts are off

This is designer Anthony Ward’s Nutcracker! with multiple exclamation marks


Best of 2021: Books

Our top fiction titles from this year

The Holiness of Sex: Leonard Cohen's Biblical Theology

Harry Freedman, author of a new book about Leonard Cohen's spirituality, considers the singer's attitude to gettin' it on

visual arts

America in Crisis, Saatchi Gallery review - a country in jeopardy

Political upheaval in America, 1969 and 2021

Francis Bacon: Man and Beast, Royal Academy review – a life lived in extremis

From raw emotion to elegant displays of self loathing

Paula Rego: The Forgotten, Victoria Miro review - relentless focus

A selection of later work is more than a coda to Tate's recent retrospective

latest comments

I was the original historical adviser on this...

Agree 100%. What happened to the writing and...

Stopped watching this sort of ideological twaddle...

The Dutch press is reporting that there is a Klem...

we went to the performance on 17th and confirm...

Ha ha - I fail to see how people can't understand...


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters