Beyond the elite

There are few art forms with more colossal barriers to entry than classical music. Picture yourself finally plucking up the courage to go to your first classical concert. You arrive late, because at that gig last Saturday you had to sit through two ill-judged warm-up acts, an act of charity you’re not inclined to repeat;


Royal regret

Here he comes. Royalty’s favourite crackpot is back. Alan Bennett’s trusty drama, The Madness of George III, doesn’t really have a plot, just a pathology. The king is fine, he then goes barmy, he stays barmy for a bit, he gets bashed about by sadistic healers, then he recovers. It’s less a play and more

All the world’s a bed

While it appears good sense to ask a woman director to grapple with the seemingly misogynistic Taming of the Shrew, there’s a serious snag. For as Gale Edwards remarked apropos her 1995 RSC production, any woman director ‘might as well get a loaded shotgun and put it against her temple’ because half the critics will


Devoid of ideas

When you see two of the undisputed masterpieces of the repertoire in one week in one of the world’s leading opera houses, competently performed, and remain largely unmoved, you’re bound to ask yourself the question: have I been to these things, and heard them on record, too many times? It is, after all, possible to


Cooked-up tension

Masterchef (BBC1) is a total waste of life — and I should know, because I’m addicted to it. It came to me suddenly and I’m still not sure how it happened. All I know is that one year I was like: ‘Masterchef. Ah, yes, it’s that foodie programme Loyd Grossman presents, which critics always call


Casting shadows

Zarina Bhimji is a photographer of ghosts. Her images of deserted buildings (‘Bapa Closed His Heart, It Was Over’, above) and desolate landscapes are empty, but haunted by humanity; her work is, as she puts it, evidence not of ‘actual facts but the echo they create’. The Whitechapel Gallery is currently home to a retrospective

Beautiful game

Remarkably, this is the first solo show in the UK of the work of Albert Burri (1915–95) for more than 50 years. Compare the popularity of other Italian postwar artists — Lucio Fontana, for instance, who only had one idea, the slashed or pierced canvas, to recommend him. Burri remains very much an unknown quantity,

Quick flip to success

Having studiously avoided the media for years, Charles Saatchi was stirred enough to write an article for the Guardian last December that opened: ‘Being an art buyer these days is comprehensively and indisputably vulgar. It is sport of the Eurotrashy, hedge-fundy, Hamptonites; of trendy oligarchs and oiligarchs.’ He has a point. A new type of


The parent trap | 4 February 2012

Carnage is Roman Polanski’s adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s hit stage play The God of Carnage, in which two sets of parents get together to discuss an altercation between their 11-year-old sons in the hope that they can figure it out sensibly, and all hell breaks loose. I have my reservations. I’m not convinced the play


Audio gongs

No red carpet was rolled out on Sunday night when the first ever Audio Drama Awards were presented to best actor (David Tennant), best actress (Rosie Cavaliero), best drama (The Year My Mother Went Missing)…in a Hollywood-Lite ceremony at Broadcasting House. No tears were shed as the winners sought desperately to find the right words