Arts feature

Shady past

David Hockney: It is a kind of joke, but I really mean it when I say Caravaggio invented Hollywood lighting. It is an invention, in that he quickly worked out how to light things dramatically. I’ve always used shadows a bit, because that’s what you need below a figure to ground it, but mine are


Ziggurat of bilge

Ella Hickson’s new play analyses our relationship with oil using the sketch format. First, there’s a candlelit soap opera set in Cornwall, in 1889, with a lot of ooh-arr bumpkins firing witless insults at each other. Next, a bizarre Persian scene, set in 1908, where a Scottish footman (who uses the celebrated Edwardian colloquialism ‘OK’)


High and low

‘Besides feeble writing, there is a mixture of tragic-comedy and buffoonery in it, which Apostolo Zeno and Metastasio had banished from serious opera’. You can always rely on Charles Burney (the celebrated musicologist, who spent most of the 18th century being professionally underwhelmed) to find fault. But writing here about Handel’s Xerxes he has a


Digging for the truth

The discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb may well be one of the 20th century’s great stories — but naturally that doesn’t mean a television drama won’t want to jazz it up a bit. Or, in the case of ITV’s lavishly produced but distinctly corny Tutankhamun, quite a lot. The programme gives us a Howard Carter younger


Face time

As a chat-up line it was at least unusual. On 8 January 1927, a 46-year-old man approached a young woman outside the Galeries Lafayette department store in Paris and announced, ‘You have an interesting face; I would like to do your portrait. I feel we are going to do great things together.’ The approach was


Loach at his most Loach

I, Daniel Blake is a Ken Loach film about a Newcastle joiner who can’t work but faces a welfare bureaucracy that won’t listen, humiliates him, grinds him down, so it’s fun, fun, fun all the way. Yes, it is that Ken Loach film, but as that Ken Loach film is more powerful than most other


The power of song | 20 October 2016

‘I went in at seven and came out aged 22,’ said Brian as he looked back on the day in October 1966 when his primary school in Aberfan was smothered in a great black wave of coal slurry. On that day, of his small school of just 141 pupils, only 25 children survived. Brian lost