Batman: from midnight monster to pop-tacular star. Kapow!

Arts feature

‘Well, Commissioner, anything exciting happening these days?’ Those were the first words — all seven of ’em — spoken by a new character introduced in the May 1939 issue of Detective Comics. That character was a chap called Bruce Wayne.… Read more

Opera Lyon_Peter Grimes Benjamin Britten

Britten’s worldwide reputation is enhanced in Lyon


One of the proudest boasts to come from Britten HQ in Aldeburgh during the composer’s anniversary last year was that performances of his works were proliferating across the globe — and not just in the UK — as never before.… Read more

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The German devotion to high culture is quite shaming


The 300th anniversary of George I coming to the British throne on 1 August 1714 is big news in his home town of Hanover in Lower Saxony. Five shows are being put on in Hanover and the Hanoverian country schloss… Read more

‘Icarus’, 1943, by Henri Matisse, maquette for plate VIII of ‘Jazz’, 1947

The Matisse Cut-Outs is a show of true magnificence


Artists who live long enough to enjoy a late period of working will often produce art that is radically different from the achievements of the rest of their careers. Late Titian and late Rembrandt are two such remarkable final flowerings,… Read more

Sally Mortemore and Claire Louise Amias in Women Of Twilight by Sylvia Rayman

The real original kitchen-sink drama


Rewrite the history books! Tradition tells us that kitchen-sink drama began in 1956 with Look Back in Anger. A season of lost classics at the White Bear Theatre has unearthed a gritty below-stairs play that predates John Osborne’s breakthrough by… Read more

Failing the Bechdel test: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Cameron Diaz in ‘The Other Woman’

If The Other Woman is a box-office hit, I’m going to have to top myself


The Other Woman is not just an extremely bad film but also a wholly reprehensible one (she says, with her most disapproving hat on). It’s a comedy, although if you find any of it funny, that’s all I will ever… Read more

One sympathises with agents to an extent: it’s not entirely their fault that houses are so expensive

Estate agents: we were right about the bastards all along


Television executives must be longing to make a programme about estate agents that casts the agents in a good light. There would be a national outrage, and in these Twittering, Facebooking times nothing is more appealing to a producer than… Read more

Dolly Parton Tour -  Sydney

Dolly Parton’s secret for surviving decades of celebrity


It’s a shame Dolly Parton has never gone into politics. She’s someone who’s lived her life very much in the public eye and yet has never lost sight of who she is, of her claim to fame as a country… Read more


Exploring the world of Jean Paul Gaultier

Culture notes

‘London,’ says Jean Paul Gaultier, ‘was my vitamin. I love the freedom of London…The energy, the character, all the people that are different.’ It was perhaps inevitable, then, that the first major exhibition of his work should come to the… Read more

‘Livia da Porto Thiene and her daughter Deidamia’, 1552, by Veronese

The National Gallery's Veronese is the exhibition of a lifetime

Arts feature

Paolo Veronese (1528–1588) is one of the great painters of the Venetian School, often joined in an unholy trinity with Titian and Tintoretto. But he was not Venetian, and only arrived in the city when he was well into his… Read more

Ferdinand Kingsley

Ferdinand Kingsley interview: 'Yeah, but mum's dad was totally bald too!'

Secondary Feature

The day before I’m due to meet Ferdinand Kingsley, actor son of Sir Ben, he sends me a message to introduce himself via Twitter. ‘I’ll try not to be a complete a***hole!’ he quips merrily, for absolutely no reason at… Read more

A scene painting from Parsifal by Paul Joukovski - 1882 (Photo: Richard Wagner Museum Bayreuth/ Dagli Orti)

In the mood for Parsifal, my Passiontide fare


This week, I have been mostly listening to Parsifal. Not the St Matthew Passion, which is my usual Passiontide fare. And, boy, it’s been quite an experience. You have to be in the mood for the Bach, but for the… Read more

Bryn Terfel as Méphistophélès and Simon Keenlyside as Valentin in ‘Faust

Bryn Terfel lords it over 'Faust' magnificently


There’s a great deal to disapprove of in Gounod’s Faust. It breaks down a pillar of western literature and whisks up what remains into a flouncy French fancy. It turns the hero’s famous striving into mere lust — for a… Read more

(Photo: Johan Persson)

Modern dance vs Shakespeare


In a dance world that has chosen to dispense with stylistic and semantic subtleties, ‘narrative ballet’ and ‘story ballet’ are often used as synonymous. Yet there are differences — and major ones at that. In a ‘narrative ballet’ it is… Read more

Rob Callender in Another Country (Photo: Johan Persson)

Another Country could almost be a YouTube advert for Eton


Another Country was an instant response to Anthony Blunt’s exposure in 1979 as a Marxist spy. Julian Mitchell set out to explain how gay public-school toffs, reared in a system of hypocrisy and backstabbing, could betray their country. At a… Read more

Ready to swoosh: Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, aka Peter Parker

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Too much bang-bang, not enough kiss-kiss


Have you seen that pizza with a cheeseburger crust? If not, just imagine a normal pizza, except where the pizza ought to end — and civilised society begin — there’s a ring of about ten miniature burgers, all encased in… Read more

Martha Kearney: on course to make her first proper wildflower honey

Without a strong woman in charge, bees are doomed — just like us


God bless the BBC. And I’m not being entirely sarcastic here. There are some things the BBC does very well and one of them, sadly, was The Review Show, its monthly critical round-up of theatre, film, books and new art… Read more

Crucifixion by Michele da Verona - 1501 (Photo: Art Archive/ DeA Picture)

BBC radio gets Easter right


Given the decline of Christian belief in the UK, it’s surprising to discover there’s quite so much about the Easter story on the airwaves this week. You might have assumed that no space would have been found in the schedules… Read more


Brains on a lithographic slab

Culture notes

The Blyth Gallery is situated in the Sherfield Building, deep in the South Kensington campus of Imperial College London. The Sherfield Building is a labyrinth of concrete, linoleum and glass. Its atmosphere is oppressively institutional. You walk around to the… Read more

‘Architectural Exercise in Colour and Form No. 6’, 1962, by Stephen Willats, on show at Victoria Miro

When Britain’s avant-garde weren’t so shouty

Arts feature

When the New York art dealer David Zwirner opened his London gallery in October 2012, observers expected him to make a statement of intent. Zwirner, who the magazine Art Review placed at number two in its 2013 Art Power 100… Read more

DJ Frankie Knuckles (Photo: Claire Greenway/Getty)

Pop has become a conservative art form and an old man’s game


It is coming to something when relatively young pop stars die not of drugs or misadventure but, essentially, of old age and decay. Frankie Knuckles, the house DJ and producer, breathed his last recently at the age of just 59,… Read more

(Image: Barney Heywood/Paul Blakemore)

Beware of Banksy: his art can make you homeless


You may not have heard of Goldie. He’s an actor and singer whose name refers to the bullion with which a cosmetic mason has decorated his incisors. A recent James Bond also featured a glimpse of the Fort Knox gnashers,… Read more

Design by William Kent for a cascade at Chatsworth, c.1735–40; below, the Bute epergne, 1756, by Thomas Heming, designed by Kent

William Kent was an ideas man - the Damien Hirst of the 18th century


How important is William Kent (1685–1748)? He’s not exactly a household name and yet this English painter and architect, apprenticed to a Hull coach-painter before he was sent to Italy (as a kind of cultural finishing school) by a group… Read more

Amanda Roocroft as the Duchess in ‘Powder Her Face’

Mixed results from the ENO and ROH in their seasonal away games


It’s been a spring tradition for several years now for English National Opera to present small-scale productions in various venues around London. But this year the Royal Opera followed suit, heading across the Thames to the new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse… Read more

Kelly Reilly and Brendan Gleeson: on tremendous form

Waiting for Godot - but with plot


If the very first scene of Calvary doesn’t immediately draw you in there’s every chance there is something seriously wrong with you and I would urge you to book an appointment with your GP. It is a terrific opening and… Read more

Opinionated and recalcitrant: Oona Chaplin as Kitty Trevelyan

Gas gangrene, shell shock and flinty women: BBC One's new Sunday night offering is no soother


Sunday nights. What are they for? Eggs. Tea. Toast. Nerves about the week ahead. Something comforting on TV.  But comfort comes in many forms. For some, it’s twee life at Downton Abbey. For others, it’s the thrill of Homeland. With… Read more

Pickets in Thoresby (Photo: STAFF/AFP/Getty)

Police and miners clash again over Orgreave on Radio 4’s The Reunion


Four could have been dubbed the Frank Radio network this week as the sharp skills of Sue MacGregor, Alan Dein and Fi Glover teased out some stark opinions and revelations. MacGregor was back on Sunday morning with a new series… Read more


From egg, to caterpillar, to chrysalis, to butterfly

Culture notes

South Kensington is teeming with butterflies at the moment, or at least the specially constructed tropical enclosure at the Natural History Museum is. Sensational Butterflies (until 14 September) takes you on a journey through the life cycle of, you guessed… Read more