Intolerable cruelty

It was a toss-up on Sunday between the atmosphere in the Radio Five Live Sports Extra studio in Kolkata for the last over of the cricket world cup (England versus West Indies) and the high-velocity drama of that evening’s episode of The Archers. Which was the more dramatic? In one room my husband was shouting at the radio, ‘Go on, Stokes!’ In another, an hour later, I was staggering towards an armchair, all thought of cooking dinner quite beyond me, after listening to the dénouement of the Helen and Rob story. Who would have thought radio could be so dangerous to the blood pressure? In the heat of the moment,

Laura Freeman

Sound and fury | 7 April 2016

There was a genteel brouhaha last year — leaders in the Times, letters to the Telegraph, tutting in the galleries — about the British Museum’s decision to play Pan-pipe music into its exhibition Celts: Art and Identity. Did the gold torcs and coin hoards sparkle the more for the looped song of Pan-pipes? Not really, and it didn’t half annoy visitors. Not put off by the British Museum’s Pan-pipe complaints, Compton Verney in Warwickshire has been at the jukebox for its Shakespeare in Art: Tempests, Tyrants and Tragedy. The exhibition takes Caliban’s ‘the isle is full of noises’ literally, giving us wishy-washy wave sounds and shiver-me-timbers deck-creaking for The Tempest,

Are theatre audiences getting out of hand?

Laurence Fox has this week joined an increasing band of actors hitting back at misbehaving audience members who seem to forget that they are in public rather than their own living room. He ramped up the drama by launching a foul-mouthed attack on a heckler before storming offstage during a live performance at a London theatre. During the play, The Patriotic Traitor at the Park Theatre, he was heard to say: ‘I won’t bother telling you the story because this cunt in the front row has ruined it for everybody.’ The audience member had been muttering and heckling during the play and apparently became so loud that, for Fox, it was impossible

Telling tales | 31 December 2015

Medea says ‘hiiiiiiii’ on the first page of Mallory Ortberg’s hilarious book, which puts smartphones in the hands of literary heroes, heroines and their writers; ‘it’s Glauce right??’, Medea continues, squealing ‘when is the WEDDING/ I hope you guys have the Argonauts as groomsmen/ and they do the sword thing/ you know where they make the little roof with their swords/ and you run down underneath it’. From this startling opening, Ortberg romps through the canon. Hamlet has teenage tantrums about the sandwiches his mother brings up on a tray. Keats gushes about ‘THIS URN’ and Mrs Danvers upbraids Rebecca for bringing in ‘BAGGED tea?/ this is a stately home/

Nice work

[audioplayer src=”http://rss.acast.com/viewfrom22/merkelstragicmistake/media.mp3″ title=”Kate Maltby and Igor Toronyi-Lalic discuss Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet” startat=1642] Listen [/audioplayer]You can’t play the part of Hamlet, only parts of Hamlet. And the bits Benedict Cumberbatch offers us are of the highest calibre. He delivers the soliloquies with a meticulous and absorbing clarity like a lawyer in the robing room mastering a brief before his summing-up. And though he’s a decade too old to play the prince (the grave scene sets his age at about 28), he cavorts about the stage like a ballet dancer delighting in his own athleticism. But he’s also much too nice. The darkest shades of melancholy and the raw emotional ugliness are

Podcast: Angela Merkel’s mistake on refugees — and is Tom Watson Labour’s saviour?

Angela Merkel’s offer to welcome any Syrian refugees who reach Germany will have far reaching, potential devastating consequences. On this week’s View from 22 podcast, James Forsyth debates this week’s Spectator cover feature on Merkel’s grandstanding with Holly Baxter from the Independent. Has David Cameron done the right thing by not offering asylum to more refugees? Are all European countries pulling equal weight in dealing with the crisis? And what will the European Union as a whole do next to help the refugees? Dan Hodges and former Labour adviser John McTernan also discuss whether Tom Watson could be the man who holds the Labour party together. The former Brownite bruiser has made plenty of enemies in the party, but he is expected to be elected Deputy Leader on Saturday,

Paul Johnson’s diary: Boris would make a great PM – but he must strike now

I feel an intense antipathy for Vladimir Putin. No one on the international scene has aroused in me such dislike since Stalin died. Though not a mass killer on the Stalin scale, he has the same indifference to human life. There is a Stalinist streak of gangsterism too: his ‘loyalists’ wear masks as well as carry guns. Putin also resembles Hitler in his use of belligerent minorities to spread his power. Am I becoming paranoid about Putin? I hope not. But I am painfully aware that he would not matter if there was a strong man in Washington. As it is, President Obama is a feeble and cowardly man who

Michael Craig-Martin pokes a giant yellow pitchfork at the ordinary

Visitors to Chatsworth House this spring might wonder if they have stumbled through the looking-glass. The estate’s rolling parkland has been invaded by an army of vibrantly coloured, outsized garden tools, whose outlines seem to hover, mirage-like, over the landscape. These painted-steel 2D ‘sculptures of drawings’ are the brainchildren of the conceptual artist Michael Craig-Martin. Craig-Martin finds poetry in the everyday and here he has taken 12 commonplace objects — a wheelbarrow; a spade; a lightbulb — and transformed them into something extraordinary. He also believes that context is everything when it comes to art and the works have been carefully positioned. While ‘High Heel’ (above) speaks to the decadence

Radio that makes you feel the wind on your cheek

After a walk in Richmond Park beset by rush-hour traffic, the Heathrow flight path and a strange swarm of flying ants (strange because so early in the year), it was unsettling to come back in and switch on and listen to Kirsty Gunn’s spring walk for this week’s The Essay on Radio 3 (which I heard as a preview but you can now catch on iPlayer). Gunn lives in Sutherland in the far north of Scotland close to the River Brora, and has a view from her back windows that stretches for 500 square miles with no other house or sign of human life in sight. ‘There’s nothing out there,’