Arts

Sublime: Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman

Rocketman is cheesy and clichéd – and all the better for it

25 May 2019 9:00 am

There have been claims that Rocketman, the biopic of Elton John, is ‘cheesy’ and ‘clichéd’, but, in truth, you do…

Postcard from the edge: The Rings of Saturn (Shingle Street — unused photograph), 1994

From haunted to haunter: the afterlife of W.G. Sebald

18 May 2019 9:00 am

East Anglia, the rump of the British Isles, has inspired a disproportionate number of writers: Robert Macfarlane, Daisy Johnson, Mark…

‘A was an Artist’, from William Nicholson’s An Alphabet, 1897

The duo that broke the mould of poster design

18 May 2019 9:00 am

The best double acts — Laurel and Hardy, Gilbert & George, Rodgers and Hart — are often made up of…

Natalia Osipova, cursed with a frightful Ascot fascinator, a Halloween shock-wig of black pipe cleaners, in Medusa as the Royal Opera House Credit: ©ROH, 2019 Photograph by Tristram Kenton

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s #MeToo Medusa is a bad hair day from Hades

18 May 2019 9:00 am

Medusa is the bad hair day from Hades. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s retelling of the Greek myth is frizzy, tangled and…

Credit: RoBeDeRo

The mosque where it’s the men who make the tea

18 May 2019 9:00 am

On returning from a brief trip to Istanbul, where inside the mosques women are still very much kept to one…

Sharon D. Clarke and Wendell Pierce in Death of a Salesman at the Young Vic Credit: © Brinkhoff Mogenburg

Willy Loman would have been fine if he’d worked in a laundry: Death of a Salesman reviewed

18 May 2019 9:00 am

Colour-blind casting is a denial of history. The Young Vic’s all-black version of Death of a Salesman asks us to…

Andras Schiff Credit: Robert Ghement/EPA/Shutterstock

Anderszewski went at Beethoven’s Diabellis with a nail gun

18 May 2019 9:00 am

Are Beethoven’s ‘Diabelli’ Variations really ‘the greatest of all piano works’, as Alfred Brendel claims? It’s hardly what you would…

Emma Thompson as Vivienne Rook in Russell T. Davies’s Years and Years. Credit: BBC/Red Productions/Guy Farrow

A clunky exercise in box-ticking: Russell T. Davies’s Years and Years reviewed

18 May 2019 9:00 am

These days, a common way of introducing radio news items is with the words ‘How worried should we be about…?’…

A delightful time machine to a distant past: Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets

A Saturday-night variety show: Take That at the O2 reviewed

18 May 2019 9:00 am

Being old is big business in live music nowadays, in a way it wasn’t even 25 years ago. When Take…

The tropes of noir and the spaghetti western are passed through a magical prism: a scene from Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego’s Birds of Passage

Startlingly fresh and jaggedly strange: Birds of Passage reviewed

18 May 2019 9:00 am

You don’t come across too many films from Colombia, but every few years one wriggles its way through the festival…

Bring me my arrow of desire: the original Italian film poster for Pasolini’s 1974 Il Fiore delle Mille e Una Notte

How film fell for caliphs and slave girls

11 May 2019 9:00 am

Justin Marozzi on film’s love affair with the Arabian Nights

Leah Harvey as Hortense and C.J. Beckford as Michael Roberts in Small Island at the National Theatre Credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

A magnificent work of art (but don’t worry if you miss the first half-hour): Small Island reviewed

11 May 2019 9:00 am

Small Island, based on Andrea Levy’s novel about Jamaican migrants in Britain, feels like the world’s longest book review. We…

The composer sir Michael Tippett. Credit: Erich Auerbach/ Stringer

This concert proves it is time to take Michael Tippett seriously

11 May 2019 9:00 am

In Oliver Soden’s new biography of Michael Tippett, he describes how Tippett wanted to open his Fourth Symphony with the…

Musical shapeshifters: I Faglioni performing Leonardo: Shaping the Invisible at Milton Court Concert Hall Credit: Mark Allan/Barbican

The Holy Grail of concert-going: I Fagiolini deliver serious musicianship that never takes itself too seriously

11 May 2019 9:00 am

We’ve all read the article. It does the rounds with the dispiriting regularity of an unwanted dish on a sushi…

Zahra Elham, the first women to win the show Afghan Star in its 14-year history. Credit: WAKIL KOHSAR / Contributor

Female contestants in Afghanistan’s X Factor are dicing with death

11 May 2019 9:00 am

The cheering fans, the dramatic Hollywood-style drum rolls, the excitable host all sound just like The X Factor or The…

Mighty resurrection: Aretha Franklin in Amazing Grace

A mighty resurrection: Amazing Grace reviewed

11 May 2019 9:00 am

Each December in Washington DC, the Kennedy Center Honors anoints five performing artists who have contributed to American life. In…

It’s all Greek to me: a schoolchild’s homework on a wax tablet, Egypt, 2nd century AD

Would James Joyce have finished Ulysses without coloured pens?

11 May 2019 9:00 am

The Mesopotamians wrote on clay and the ancient Chinese on ox bones and turtle shells. In Egypt, in about 1,800…

Chris Lilley as Quentin, the real-estate agent with an improbably huge arse who dreams of becoming a famous DJ

Gloriously un-PC: Chris Lilley’s Swiftian, scabrous, gleefully misanthropic Lunatics reviewed

11 May 2019 9:00 am

‘Unfunny, boring and utterly unrelenting,’ says the Guardian’s one-star review of Chris Lilley’s new sketch series Lunatics (Netflix). And if…

It made me want to go to sleep and never wake up: Vampire Weekend’s Father of the Bride

11 May 2019 9:00 am

Grade: B– One of the things not to like about Vampire Weekend, other than their cloying preppiness, Ezra Koenig’s ingratiating…

Lance encounters: a plate from The Book of Tournaments, Maximilian’s remarkable encyclopedia of jousting

The joy of jousting

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Chivalric spectacle, martial display, marriage market, medieval G8. Laura Freeman on why the Late Middle Ages were mad for jousting

Maybe the best thing this skag head's ever done: Peter Doherty & the Puta Madres reviewed

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Grade: A Old skag head’s back, then — older (40 now!), probably none the wiser, still a very good songwriter.…

Why do we still use the Qwerty keyboard layout and not Dvorak?

4 May 2019 9:00 am

‘Can you fly down this evening?’ she was asked by her boss in the Delhi office of the BBC. ‘Yes,…

Did the makers of When I Grow Up have no qualms turning a small boy into a hate figure?

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Channel 4’s When I Grow Up had an important lesson for middle-class white males everywhere: you’re never too young to…

Individual performers make their mark: Jacques Imbrailo as Billy Budd and Alasdair Elliott as Squeak

An abdication of interpretative responsibility: Royal Opera’s Billy Budd reviewed

4 May 2019 9:00 am

The climactic central scene of Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd ends unexpectedly. The naval court has reached a verdict of death,…

Can Deborah Ross finish her Tolkien review before it fades from memory?

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Tolkien is a biopic covering the early life of J.R.R. Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult) and it is not especially memorable. I’m…