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Shakespeare on the line

The RSC’s Complete Works Festival ‘Completism’ has become a bit of a mania in the arts world, but there’s no question that Michael Boyd has left a distinguished mark on the RSC with his Complete Works Festival. It began a year ago with Romeo and Juliet and concludes with Ian McKellen in the title role

Royal riches

The treasures of the Royal Collection are usually dispersed among the various royal palaces and residences throughout Britain. For the first time in more than 40 years, the earlier Italian paintings and drawings have been brought together in a substantial exhibition which is rich in visual and historical delights. In what is really a tribute

Heroes of the concert hall

Before getting down to some hard iconoclasm, let me first declare that to me all tenors, no matter what music they sing, nor even how well or badly they sing it, are heroes. Not because they tend to get heroes’ parts, but simply because of what they do, physically. Never blessed with much of a

Precious jewels

A feature of the gardening world, which probably strikes me rather more forcibly than it does you, is the number of amateur plant specialists there are. These are experts in one area of plantsmanship, usually, who aggregate in groups in order that they can exchange technical talk, test their skills in competition and learn from

Arms control

Questions are easy, answers less so. That’s the conclusion of Joe Penhall’s new morality play and it won’t come as a surprise to anyone brighter than a hedgehog. A brilliant but unstable missile scientist has invented a gizmo that will give Britain military superiority for a generation. Professor Brainiac then suffers an attack of conscience

Brutalising Russia

I caught up with Welsh National Opera’s production of Musorgsky’s Khovanshchina only in Birmingham, the last performance of its first run. I hope it’s revived soon, since an account of it as intense as the one I saw, without longueurs, is just what this work needs to lift it from the status of masterpiece-but-also-bore to