Passion indeed

‘The dripping blood our only drink/ The bloody flesh our only food…/ Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.’ In spite of that. Anglo-Catholic convert T.S. Eliot knew a thing or two about Easter. The Passion story might end with resurrection and redemption, but it’s a celebration that we achieve in spite

Arts feature

Acting up | 20 April 2017

Gemma Arterton’s new film, Their Finest, is about second world war propaganda. Her character, who is bookish and sensitive, is allowed — because of war — to write film scripts. She discovers two girls — two ordinary, pale, unhappy girls — who steal their father’s boat and sail to Dunkirk for the rescue. She thinks

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Pleasure boats

There isn’t a luxury ship that wouldn’t look better for having sunk. Barnacles and rot bring such romance to the lines, like spider webs in the sea. Even the decay Damien Hirst has applied to his Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable is quite appealing. It crawls over many of the objects that he


Boozy bard

Even the Bard’s staunchest fans admit that ‘Shakespeare comedy’ may be an oxymoron. That’s the assumption of the touring company Shit-Faced Shakespeare, which produces the plays as adventures in boozy slapstick. The audience is encouraged to swig along too. I saw their hooch-assisted Much Ado. The colourful costumes looked a bit am-dram, perhaps deliberately, and


Take a bow

Monteverdi 450 — the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists’ tour of his three operas to 33 cities across two continents — began with his penultimate work Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, at Bristol’s Colston Hall. It was a marvellous occasion, uplifting and entertaining. I hadn’t been to the Colston Hall before, and was most


Psycho thriller

Psychological thrillers — or ‘thrillers’ as they used to be known — have become almost as ubiquitous on television as they are in the average bookshop. On the whole, this is now a genre where contented domesticity exists solely to be undermined, and where the chief function of the past is to come back and


Constable on sea

John Constable was, as we say these days, conflicted about Brighton. On the one hand, as he wrote in a letter, he was revolted by this marine Piccadilly, populated with: ‘ladies dressed & undressed — gentlemen in morning gowns and slippers on, or without them altogether about knee deep in the breakers — footmen —


All dressed up, nowhere to go

Rules Don’t Apply is Warren Beatty’s first film appearance in 15 years and his first as writer, director, producer and star since Bulworth, 19 years ago. Plenty of time, then, to figure out what he wanted to say, and how he wanted to say it, but Rules is entirely baffling. Is it a tale of


The real deal | 20 April 2017

How about this for an inspiring response to what could have been a personal tragedy. Chi-chi Nwanoku was in the sixth form at school, a promising athlete hoping to represent Great Britain as a 100-metre sprinter, when she injured her knee playing football. ‘It was a poignantly painful moment,’ she recalls, but thanks to a