Talking down to God

‘There is something enviable about the utter lack of inhibition with which Leonard Bernstein carries on,’ wrote the critic of the Boston Globe after the US première of Bernstein’s Third Symphony, Kaddish, in February 1964 — and looking at the forces arrayed at the Barbican, he had a point. In addition to the full LSO

Arts feature

Darkness visible | 16 November 2017

All photography requires light, but the light used in flash photography is unique — shocking, intrusive and abrupt. It’s quite unlike the light that comes from the sun, or even from ambient illumination. It explodes, suddenly, into darkness. The history of flash goes right back to the challenges faced by early photographers who wanted to

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The play’s the thing | 16 November 2017

‘It’s all wizards and elves, right? Dungeons & Dragons stuff?’ Such is the general response when you mention larp, or live-action role-play — the peculiarly Scandi pastime that conjures up images of people dressed up in the forest play-fighting with sticks. Well, they wouldn’t be completely wrong. It’s a weird world and with the help

Ill wind

A kindly cowboy, an East Coast bride, adultery, murder and madness. The Wind, Dorothy Scarborough’s 1925 Texas gothic novel (and Sjöström/Gish movie), offers rich pickings for dance narrative and was selected by Arthur Pita for his Covent Garden main stage debut. What could possibly go wrong? Pita has made some terrific dance dramas — notably

Taylor Swift: Reputation

Grade: D+ I was suckered in by the brio of Taylor Swift’s first big single, ‘Love Story’, despite the clunking lyrics, which one forgave because of her youth. Just a nice slice of maybe overproduced FM country rock with a simple, but effective, chorus. Forgive me. I did not see the monster she would become.


Faking it | 16 November 2017

David Mamet’s plays are tough to pull off because his dialogue lacks the predictable shapeliness of traditional dramatic speech. He prefers the sort of meandering, oblique, backtracking and self-deluding conversation you might overhear in a hotel dining-room. Glengarry Glen Ross opens in a restaurant, where a handful of realtors are discussing the perils and joys


Adult entertainment | 16 November 2017

Any readers of the Sun who excitedly tuned in to Howards End on Sunday night with their pause button at the ready will, I fear, have been in for a disappointment. Before the programme went out, the paper had assured them that this new BBC1 adaptation would ‘do a Poldark’, with ‘a hot cast’ providing


Talking heads | 16 November 2017

Under the central dome of UCL — an indoor crossroads where hordes of students come and go on their way to lectures and lunch — there’s an intriguing exhibition on at the moment about death. ‘Human remains are displayed in this exhibition’, it says in white lettering on the floor atall four entrances, to warn

Worse for wear

Erté was destined for the imperial navy. Failing that, the army. His father and uncle had been navy men. There were painters and sculptors on his mother’s side, but they were thought very frivolous. Romain de Tirtoff (‘Erté’ came from the French pronunciation of his initials) was born in 1892 at the St Petersburg Naval

Dark side of the Moomins

Tove Jansson, according to her niece’s husband, was a squirt in size and could rarely be persuaded to eat, preferring instead to smoke fags and drink whisky. And when she did eat, it was usually salted cucumbers — to go with the drink. You know, this late in life, I may have encountered my role


Golden oldie

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is plainly wonderful, and stars Annette Bening, who is plainly wonderful, as Gloria Grahame, a one-time Hollywood movie star who in later life hits on hard times — ‘a big name in black and white. Not doing too well in colour,’ comments her landlady at one point — and


Local heroes | 16 November 2017

It’s 50 years since the first local radio stations were launched by the BBC in yet another instance of the corporation working hard to stay ahead of the game, on this occasion responding to the challenge of the pirate stations, whose audiences were local and known to be very loyal. Radio Leicester was the first