Arts feature

Moor and more

In 1824 an ambitious teenage actor fled to England from his native New York where he had been beaten up once too often. He built a career here, being billed as ‘a Most Extraordinary Novelty, a Man of Colour’. What audiences encountered, however, was not the expected comedy of a simpleton mangling the Bard. They


Animal or vegetable?

Against by Christopher Shinn sets out to unlock the secrets of America’s spiritual malaise. Two main settings represent the wealthy and the dispossessed. At a university campus, an inquisitive Jesus-freak named Luke interrogates people about their experiences of violence. At an online retailer, oppressed wage slaves toil for hours and mate fleetingly during their tea


Straight to hell

No, The State (Channel 4) wasn’t a recruiting manual for the Islamic State, though I did feel uneasy about it throughout the four episodes. The fundamental problem is this: if you’re going to make a watchable drama about bad people doing terrible things, you inevitably have to humanise them. And from there it’s just a


Snap, crackle and op

Stand in front of ‘Fall’, a painting by Bridget Riley from 1963, and the world begins to quiver and dissolve. Something you normally expect to be static and stable — a panel covered with painted lines — undulates and pulses. In addition to just black and white, the pigments actually present, other hues appear and


Moral maze

Una is a psychological drama about a woman who was abused by a man when she was 12, and who confronts him 15 years later, and it’s a hoot. I’m toying with you. Of course it isn’t. It’s disquieting. It’s disturbing. It’s difficult. It’s 90 minutes of uncomfortably shifting in your chair and wishing you


‘Smile, segue and shut up’

Three weeks before Classic FM launched, I was on the radio in Hong Kong, introducing hits by Rick Astley and Wet Wet Wet. I’d just turned 21, and was working as a presenter for British Forces Radio. A phone call came from London. ‘My name is Michael Bukht. I’m setting up a new radio station