Splitting headache | 4 April 2019

Back when the UK was assumed to be leaving the European Union on 29 March, the Aurora Orchestra was invited to Brussels to participate in Klarafestival: specifically, an evening of words and music ‘celebrating cultural links between Europe and the UK’. And because arts organisations in general (and orchestras in particular) change direction with the

Arts feature


In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a group of slightly ramshackle workmen decide to put on a play. The play they choose — The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe — is famously and funnily terrible, as is their handling of it. Its central scene takes place at night, so

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Menace and magnificence

Two households, both alike in dignity. Capulets in red tights, Montagues in green. Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet opens in a piazza where the clash of swords makes a fifth section of the orchestra. Strings, woodwind, brass, percussion… and steel. If Shakespeare’s young bloods and blades once seemed remotely Renaissance, made romantic by distance, Verona’s


Bad blood | 4 April 2019

The Phlebotomist by Ella Road explores the future of genetics. Suppose a simple blood test were able to tell us how long we will live and what disease will kill us. If the tests were compulsory and the results publicly available, a new hierarchy based on life expectancy would emerge. Citizens facing chronic illness or


Call of duty

Is it possible to write a feminist opera about Jack the Ripper? Composer Iain Bell thinks it is, and his Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel tries very, very hard to prove it. But while the result is respectful, topical and agonisingly, paralysingly sincere, it’s also a sheep in wolf’s clothing. You can’t have


The wisdom of the crowd

On Sunday a drama began with ED905 being stolen by an OCG who’d faked an RTC that required IR, little realising that they had a UCO in their midst. So yes, Line of Duty (BBC1) is back in all its jargon-laden glory — and, judging from the first episode, it’s lost none of its ability


Capital punishment

Is now a good time to talk about Jews and money? The Jewish Museum in London thinks so, and perhaps it is right. Motifs of Jewish financial chicanery that have never really gone away are back. The internet age has allowed memes about Rothschilds, rootless financiers and other thinly veiled claims of Jewish duplicity to


I’m sorry I haven’t a clue

Alice Rohrwacher’s Happy as Lazzaro sets out as a neorealist tale of exploited sharecroppers, but midway through the story it falls off a cliff (literally) and returns as magical realism, although we mustn’t hold that against it. Or should we? I was sad to see the first narrative go, frankly — come back! Come back!


Seeing things

At its best audio can be a much more visual medium than the screen. Making Art with Frances Morris (produced by Kate Bland), which I caught by chance on Radio 4 last week, gave us insights into the work of the French conceptual artist Sophie Calle that were so vivid it was almost as if