Hearts and minds | 9 November 2017

Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune begins with a sigh: a long, languorous exhalation played on the lower notes of a solo flute. The flute’s usual brightness and brilliance is gone. It’s a dusky, breathy sound, made of half-shades and velvet: the musical embodiment of luxe, calme et volupté. And it’s completely impossible to imitate

Arts feature

Bring up the bodies | 9 November 2017

The moment you invite friends to some new ‘cutting-edge’ disability theatre or film, most swallow paroxysms of social anxiety. What if it’s dull? Am I allowed to yawn? What if I hate it? How interminably politically correct will it be? Do I want to think about ‘disability’ on a fun night out? While most objections

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May’s day

You may think you don’t know May Morris, daughter of William, but you’ll probably have come across her wallpaper. Her honeysuckle design was and remains a Morris & Co. bestseller, and it not only features in homes to this day, it’s been nicked by designer Jonathan Anderson for a Morris-inspired range for the very expensive


Country music | 9 November 2017

Americans may be able to draw on only 250 years of history, but they’re not shy of making a song and dance of it. In early December, Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s $1 billion-grossing, hip-hop and show-tune extravaganza about one of the country’s founding fathers will finally open to sold-out crowds in London. It joins the Menier

To hell and back

The Exorcist opened in 1973 accompanied by much hoo-ha in the press. Scenes of panic, nausea and fainting were recorded at every performance. Movie-goers showed up to witness mass hysteria rather than to enjoy a scary movie. This revival, produced by Bill Kenwright, targets the early 1970s demographic. At press night, the stalls were thronged


Oh, Jeremy Corbyn

This week I want to put the boot in to Gogglebox (Channel 4, Fridays). Not the mostly likeable, everyday version, whose stars include our very own and much-loved Dear Mary, where ordinary-ish people are filmed reacting amusingly to the week’s TV. I mean the recent celebrity special, featuring former Oasis singer Liam Gallagher, a cricketer,


The apple of his eye

The critic and painter Adrian Stokes once remarked on how fortunate Cézanne had been to be bald, ‘considering the wonderful volume that he always achieved for the dome of his skull’. It’s a good joke, and all the better for being perfectly true — as is demonstrated by the superb sequence of self-portraits included in


Child’s play

The Florida Project is a drama set in one of those cheap American motels occupied by poor people who would otherwise be homeless. It’s sad but not depressing, bleak but also joyful, and features one of the best and truest child performances you will ever likely see. Also, it is captivating without ever being condescending


Ulysses on speed

It’s always odd to hear a familiar voice on a different programme, playing an alternative role. They never sound quite as comfortable behind the mike, as if they are wearing clothes that don’t quite fit. The voice has a different timbre, as it did on Sunday when Garry Richardson, who since 1981 has been keeping