Arts feature

Lloyd Evans

Jacobean journey

It sounds like mission impossible. To celebrate this year’s 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, the RSC set itself the task of mounting a play about the controversies surrounding the translation. A drama, therefore, entirely lacking in drama. No action or spectacle, no romance or comedy, no surprise twists or last-minute poisonings. Just people

Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970–1990

Postmodernism is a term with a surprisingly long history. It was first used in the 1870s and was subsequently employed by dazed or disaffected commentators with some regularity throughout the first two thirds of the 20th century, until it became de rigueur in the ghastly decade of the 1970s. The architect Charles Jencks pronounced the


Birmingham Royal Ballet

Contrary to general belief, there is little glamour in the professional life of a dance critic. What there is, though, is a considerable amount of time spent confronting painfully unsuccessful attempts at making art or, at least, making something worth seeing. What makes one digest those endless stretches of choreographic drabness is the promise —


Peter Brook’s 1964 staging of Peter Weiss’s Marat/Sade for the RSC was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life as a young journalist. The magnificently titled Persecution and Assassination of Marat as performed by the inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the direction of the Marquis de Sade was a knockout. With

Inadmissable Evidence

Fashionable Londoners go to the Donmar Warehouse to engage in shut-eye chic. It’s a weird way to relax. You buy a ticket to John Osborne’s 1964 classic, Inadmissable Evidence, and you sleep through most of its two and a half hours. All around me were seats full of happy dozers. How I envied them. Mind


Der fliegende Holländer

Compelling, succinct, elemental, The Flying Dutchman, Wagner’s first indisputable masterwork, wouldn’t seem to present any great problems for an opera house, unless his directions about heaving ships are taken too literally — very unlikely — so why does one never see it well produced? The Royal Opera has made especially heavy weather of it, but

Going solo in Ireland

Wexford’s remarkable opera house is as good a symbol as any of the Irish financial meltdown. The auditorium is fabulous, and not just acoustically. The building — funded by the Irish government just before the banks collapsed — is now the trump card that has preserved the Wexford Festival as Ireland’s sole surviving operatic gesture.


Landscapes of grief

The caption on the photograph (above) makes a difference: ‘A young boy grieves at the funeral of his father who died of Aids at Ndola, Zambia, 2000.’ There were two million Aids orphans in Zambia alone. ‘I care about not letting this tragedy go unseen,’ Don McCullin said. Shaped by War: Photographs by Don McCullin,



To see or not to see, that is the question, just as it is always the question with us — I believe our relationship may be caught in what is generally referred to as a ‘rut’ — but I shall answer all the same and my answer is this: Anonymous is a ‘not see’ and


Aussie rules

The Australians do suburbia well. We seem to be interested in the working classes and the poor (EastEnders, Coronation Street, searing one-off dramas about sink estates), Americans like the rich (Dallas, Dynasty) and well-to-do urban folk (Frasier, Friends). But in Oz they are fascinated by the people who live in medium-size houses in leafy streets

Great expectations | 29 October 2011

‘We chose to believe things that could not be true,’ says Velma Hart, the American finance officer who famously confronted President Obama at a town hall meeting in Washington DC and told him straight that she was tired of constantly having to defend him against his former supporters among the middle classes. She voted for