Arts feature

How to think like Chekhov or Turgenev

I recently met an A-level English student who had never heard of Pontius Pilate. How is it possible to reach the age of 18 — to be applying to university to read English and European Literature — and never to have come across the man who asked the unanswerable question: what is truth? This student

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Blackfish and the scandal of caged killer whales

If you were in a bathtub for 25 years, don’t you think you’d get a little bit psychotic? Well, yes, probably. But this is how captive killer whales live. Tilikum is no different from many of these. A 31-year-old orca who was scooped out of the North Atlantic in 1983, aged two, he has spent

Stuttgart Ballet – still John Cranko’s company

Stuttgart Ballet’s rapid ascent to fame is at the core of one of the most interesting chapters of ballet history. Between 1961 and 1973, the year of his untimely death, the South African Royal Ballet-trained choreographer John Cranko turned what had been a fairly standard ballet ensemble into a unique dance phenomenon. Although Stuttgart is


Martin Shaw’s flaws make him perfect for Twelve Angry Men

Strange actor, Martin Shaw. He’s got all the right equipment for major stardom: a handsome and complicated face, a languid sexiness, a decent physique and a magnificent throbbing voice. He sounds like a lion feeling peckish in mid-afternoon. At top volume, his growl could dislodge chimney pots. And yet he’s just a steady-eddy TV performer


Opera review: The Barbican’s Albert Herring was a perfect evening

Of this year’s three musical birthday boys, Wagner has fared, in England, surprisingly well, Verdi inexplicably badly, and Britten, as was to be expected, has received the royal treatment. No one could have predicted, though, that the culmination of the celebrations would be as glorious as it was: a single semi-staged performance at the Barbican




Trading Places at 30 – one of the funniest films of all time

Next month marks the 30th anniversary of the release of what is, in my opinion, one of the funniest films of all time: Trading Places. Starring comedic demigods Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd, together with Jamie Lee Curtis and Denholm Elliot, this 1983 critical and commercial success is an amusing and trenchant satire on race,