Arts feature


Toby Jones shuffles into the café in Clapham where we are meeting. He’s wearing a duffle coat and a hat and carrying a rucksack. He looks just like one of those unsung characters that he specialises in, the kind of person you don’t take much notice of unless you have to. Today we are talking

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Some like it hot | 14 March 2019

Blame Kenneth MacMillan. The great Royal Ballet choreographer of the 1960s, 70s and 80s was convinced that narrative dance could and should extend its reach beyond boy meets sylph and began wrestling with heavyweight essay subjects such as the fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire (Mayerling) or the last of the Romanovs (Anastasia). And now look:

Short circuit

Choreographer Richard Alston is now 70 and his latest outing at Sadler’s Wells is a greatest hits medley. As with all clip shows, some of it is super, some soporific and some merely meh. We begin with Martin Lawrance’s Detour, first performed last year. The piece is a powerful hybrid of fluid dance and martial


Brideshead revisited

Nicholas Hytner’s new show, Alys, Always, is based on a Harriet Lane novel that carries a strong echo of Brideshead. A well-educated journalist, Frances, becomes entangled with the wealthy Kyte family (the closeness to ‘Flyte’ is doubtless intentional), and she befriends the silly daughter, Polly, before setting her sights on the enigmatic father, Laurence, a


Deft and daft

Operas are like buses. Both are filled with pensioners and take ages to get anywhere, but more importantly they always seem to arrive en masse. You wait ages for a Magic Flute, then five come along at once. Opera North started us off in January, Welsh National Opera and English National Opera are currently following


Secrets and lies | 14 March 2019

Halfway through the first part of Channel 4’s extraordinary documentary Leaving Neverland (Thursdays), I flicked through the comments on social media in order to gauge the global reaction. Surely, I thought, Michael Jackson’s reputation will never recover from these bombshell revelations. If you sat, squirming, though Dan Reed’s excruciatingly prurient documentary you’ll know what I


Dream on | 14 March 2019

Art movements come and go but surrealism, in one form or another, has always been with us. Centuries before Freud’s scientific observation that the stuff of dreams will out, artists were painting it. The English have never been much cop at surrealism — too buttoned up; the Celts are better. The Scottish painters Alan Davie


It’s all me, me, me

Simon Amstell’s Benjamin is a romantic comedy about a young filmmaker whose second feature is about to première, and he’s nervous. Don’t be, says his producer (Anna Chancellor). ‘Some people,’ she expands comfortingly, ‘will like it and some people won’t be into it, but each and every one of them is going to die, aren’t


Only connect | 14 March 2019

It’s not surprising given the way that electronic communication has taken over so much of our daily business, minimising human contact wherever possible, that podcasting (or what might be called aural blogging) has taken off in such a big way, anything from Griefcast to Love + Radio via The Breakup Monologues and To the Woman.