Hey Judith

‘When a man takes it upon himself to write an oratorio — perhaps the most gratuitous exploit open to a 19th-century Englishman — he must take the consequences,’ wrote George Bernard Shaw, reviewing Parry’s oratorio Judith in 1888. The consequences for Judith seem to have been unusually drastic. Premiered at the Birmingham Triennial Festival, it

Arts feature

Capturing a moment | 11 April 2019

On Tuesday, thousands of miles apart, in three great cities, London, New York and Los Angeles, 75 dancers will dance 100 solos in each venue in honour of the late iconoclastic choreographer Merce Cunningham, who would have turned 100 that day. It is a spectacularly ambitious wake for the choreographer who for 70 years denied

‘I merge into the background, me’

‘I live completely anonymously,’ whispers Jim Broadbent down the phone from Lincolnshire. Nonsense, I counter. You’re one of the most recognisable actors in this united luvviedom. ‘Am I?’ he asks gently. Oh come on. You’re Bridget Jones’s dad, Del Boy’s arch-enemy Roy Slater, Lord Longford campaigning for Myra Hindley’s parole, dotty antiques-shop owner Samuel Gruber

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Electrifying and strange

‘Where was the Kahlo brow?’ asked my guest in the first interval of English National Ballet’s She Persisted, a triple bill celebrating female choreographers. She was right: Frida had been plucked. It was an odd decision for a production that does not otherwise shy from ugliness. Broken Wings, a ballet inspired by the life of


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Caryl Churchill’s best-known play, Top Girls, owes a large debt to 1970s TV comedy. It opens with a Pythonesque dinner party in which noted female figures from myth and history get drunk while swapping gags and stories. We meet a Victorian explorer, an emperor’s concubine, a 16th-century Flemish battle-axe and a long-suffering Italian peasant girl.


Planet propaganda

If you liked Triumph of the Will, you’ll love this latest masterpiece of the genre: Our Planet. The Netflix nature series exploits the prestige, popularity and swansinging poignancy of Sir David Attenborough to promote an environmental message so relentlessly dishonest and alarmist it might have been scripted by the WWF. ‘Walruses committing suicide because of


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An eyewitness described Edvard Munch supervising the print of a colour lithograph in 1896. He stood in front of the stones on which the head of a masterpiece was drawn. He then closed his eyes tightly, stabbed the air with his finger, and gave his instructions. ‘Print… grey, green, blue, brown.’ Then he opened his


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Jessie Buckley is the actress who, you may remember, was ‘phenomenal’ in Beast — I am quoting myself here so it must be true — and she is also phenomenal in Wild Rose. She plays a Glaswegian, ex-jailbird single mum who dreams of Nashville and making it as a country star and, good grief, the


People power | 11 April 2019

He is said to ‘have changed the sound of speech radio’, not just by giving voice to those who until then (the 1960s) had not been given air time, the richness of their county accents too far removed from Broadcasting House’s Received Pronunciation. He won awards for his pioneering use of the new midget tape