Arts feature

Everything goes

When I first began rehearsing a musical, I discovered to my genuine surprise that I was breaking an unwritten rule…that directors of serious ‘legitimate’ theatre should not dirty their hands by contact with such a lower form of entertainment! Since that time, it’s become almost impossible to name a leading play director who has not

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Weaving magic

Tapestry, papal and princely, never quite went away. Today it satisfies a need for conspicuous displays of skill of the kind celebrated in the V&A’s recent show Power of Making. The surprise hit of last year’s Venice Biennale was Penelope’s Labour: Weaving Words and Images, an exhibition of weavings and tapestries old and new, while


Vengeance, at a price

Where have you been all my life, Orphan of Zhao? Come to think of it, where has any Chinese theatre been? Bang up to the minute, the RSC’s new artistic director, Gregory Doran, launched his regime with the so-called (actually, badly called) ‘Chinese Hamlet’ on the very day that President Hu Jintao, dwarfed by a

Issues of Trust

An orgy of navel-gazing on the South Bank where a national treasure is satirising the National Trust at the National Theatre. Alan Bennett sets his latest comedy in the drawing room of a crumbling Georgian mansion in South Yorkshire. Greedy speculators are queuing up to seize the house from its plucky owner, Lady Dorothy Stacpoole,


Slow progress

As usual on the rare occasions when Vaughan Williams’s last and largest opera, The Pilgrim’s Progress, is performed, the new production at English National Opera has been greeted antiphonally, with cries of ecstasy mingled with indignation that it is so little performed from one side, and moans of boredom and weariness from the other. Though


Time trials

It’s amazing what can be squeezed into an hour of The Hour (Wednesday, BBC2): smutty photos, gang violence, bent coppers, illegal gambling, fascism, racism, a political cover-up, a media exposé, leaked documents, seduction, abuse, neglect, the corrupting temptations of celebrity, the corrupting temptations of complicated dessert recipes, a dog in space, the threat to the


Unexpected structures

There are only eight single paintings in the current show of early work by Gillian Ayres (born 1930) — eight paintings and the four panels of a mural created for the dining room of Hampstead High School for Girls. The mural is over seven feet high and 27 feet wide, and its scale and achievement


Everlasting love

Michael Haneke’s Amour is about love as we near the end of life and is so painful it isn’t a film to ‘like’ or ‘enjoy’ but is one you do have to see. It’s amazing. It is, effectively, two hours and seven minutes of watching someone die, but it is riveting, and I’m still jangling


Carry on broadcasting

By some strange, freakish coincidence, just as the biggest story to hit the BBC in recent years was about to cut through the airwaves on Saturday night, Radio 4 was discussing the question, Who’s Reithian Now? It was as if, by some act of God, Lord Reith, the corporation’s creator, was speaking to us direct