Arts feature

Sex, lies and conductors

I once knew a great conductor who claimed that he never boarded a plane to a new orchestra without a tube of lube in his pocket. Just in case he got lucky (which he often did). Conductors are migratory birds who fly where their agents point them, hopping from one hotel bed to the next.

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Ferrari – heavy, expensive, wasteful, dangerous and addictive

Has a more beautiful machine in all of mankind’s fretful material endeavours ever been made than a ’60 Ferrari 250 Granturismo? Go to the Design Museum and decide. I have driven many Ferraris and the experience is always unique. They are alive, demanding, feral, sometimes even violent or truculent. Addictive, too. Once, in Haverfordwest, I


The price of success

A pattern emerges. A hot American playwright, dripping with prestigious awards, is honoured in London with a transfer of their best-known work. And it turns out to be all right. Not bad. Nothing special. The latest wunderkind to wow London is Amy Herzog (five plays performed, six awards received), whose marital bust-up drama Belleville is


Up the revolution

Spoiler alert: the final image of John Fulljames’s production of Monteverdi’s The Return of Ulysses at the Roundhouse is haunting. Ulysses (Roderick Williams) and Penelope (Christine Rice) stand facing each other at last, arms outstretched. But Penelope is on terra firma. Ulysses stands on the revolving walkway that has served as the stage throughout most


Mash-up of all mash-ups

It’s a terrible thing for a TV critic to admit but I just don’t know what to make of Britannia, the new Sky Atlantic drama set during the Roman invasion of Britain, scripted by Jez Butterworth, starring a top-notch cast including David Morrissey, Zoë Wanamaker and Mackenzie Crook, and heavily touted as the next Game


A woman of substance | 18 January 2018

Steven Spielberg’s The Post, which dramatizes the Washington Post’s publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, doesn’t exactly push at the frontiers of storytelling. It’s told straight and in a familiar way. Here are the journalists furtively working through top-secret government papers in a smoke-choked room for the public good. (There were no empty pizza


Prick up your ears

On paper and on air, there’s nothing to suggest that the Radio 4 series Across the Red Line will have sufficient listening power to draw you in so that once you’ve reached home and need to get out of the car you’ll rush straight in to switch on the radio. The billing in Radio Times