wed 01/02/2023

history

Allegiance, Charing Cross Theatre review - George Takei's childhood story makes a heartfelt musical

Like families, nations have secrets: dirty linen that they prefer not to expose to the light of day. Patriotic myths need to be protected, heroic narratives shaped, good guy reputations upheld. In 1942, the USA rounded up Japanese-Americans and...

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Watch on the Rhine, Donmar Warehouse review - Lillian Hellman's 1940 play is still asking awkward questions

We’re reminded, in a grainy black and white video framing device, that, as late as the summer of 1941, the USA saw World War II as just another European war. As brilliantly illustrated in Phillip Roth’s The Plot Against America, not only was such...

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Corsage review - Vicky Krieps is superb as Empress Elisabeth of Austria

“At the age of 40 a person begins to disperse and fade, darkening like a cloud,” says Elisabeth, Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary, played by a mesmerising Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread) in Austrian director Marie Kreutzer’s brilliant,...

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Orlando, Garrick Theatre review - Emma Corrin is incandescent in an underwhelming adaptation

Identity is thorny business. This was the parting thought of Anna X, the play that marked Emma Corrin’s West End debut in the summer of 2021. The same credo governs Corrin’s return to London theatre with Orlando, in Neil Bartlett’s adaptation of...

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A Christmas Carol, RSC, Stratford review - family show eases back the terror and winds up the politics

Life is full of coincidences and contradictions. As I was walking to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was on his feet in the House of Commons delivering yet another rebalancing of individual and collective resources. On...

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Annie Proulx: Fen, Bog & Swamp review - defending the wetlands' bounty

Annie Proulx’s Fen, Bog & Swamp sees the Pulitzer-winning novelist join a number of authors decrying the ecological devastation we’re wreaking on the planet. James Rebanks’ English Pastoral argued for radical agricultural rethink. Journalist...

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Mariana Enriquez: Our Share of Night review - delving into a violent, erotic world

Tense with horror and the sticky darkness of the Argentinian night, Mariana Enriquez’s writing is rich and occult. Her epic novel, Our Share of Night, vividly translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell, follows on from her short story collections...

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William Boyd: The Romantic review - historical soap opera, anyone?

Writing in the Edinburgh Review in 1814, Francis Jeffrey began his review of Wordsworth’s The Excursion with a provocative denunciation of romanticism: “This will never do,” he complained. “It bears no doubt the stamp of the author’s heart and fancy...

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The Lost King review - fact or fiction?

Richard III is a controversial figure, and will remain so after this film, which tells the remarkable story of how Philippa Langley, a woman with no background in academia, archaeology or as a historian, led the search to find the grave of the “...

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James IV: Queen of the Fight, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh review - revelatory historical drama

"The poem is real," intones entertainer-turned-courtier Ellen solemnly as a prologue and epilogue to Rona Munro’s vivid, vibrant new James IV: Queen of the Fight, presented by Scottish producers Raw Material and Edinburgh’s Capital Theatres in...

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Andrew Murray: Is Socialism Possible in Britain? review - what went wrong and why Corbynism failed

The title of Andrew Murray’s new book poses a question that also vexed Friedrich Engels over 130 years ago. The German co-author of The Communist Manifesto despaired of English socialism, "that abomination of abominations", on the grounds...

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'The first thing I do when I wake up is write.' Hilary Mantel, 1952-2022

Hilary Mantel, who has died at the age of 70, was a maker of literary history. Wolf Hall, an action-packed 650-page brick of a book about the rise and rise of Thomas Cromwell, won the Man Booker Prize in 2009. Three years later its successor,...

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