Arts

Metamorphosis in progress: a mosaic of the giant Orion being turned into a constellation

The new treasures of Pompeii

25 May 2019 9:00 am

One afternoon in AD 79 an unusual cloud appeared above Vesuvius in the Bay of Naples. ‘It was raised high…

Lusty, roistering Suranne Jones as Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack. Image: BBC / Lookout Point / Jay Brooks

Sunday night on the Beeb was an orgy of virtue-signalling and third-rate sport

25 May 2019 9:00 am

After its new costume drama You Go, Girl! (Sundays) about how amazing, empowered and better-than-men women are, especially if they…

George the Poet in 2014. Photo: Ben A. Pruchnie / Getty Images

Forget the The Reith Lectures. To understand the world listen to George the Poet

25 May 2019 9:00 am

At last a podcast that takes the medium to its limit, created by someone who loves listening, understands how it…

The odd couple: Sting and Shaggy on tour in 2018. Photo: Zoltan Balogh / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

A very odd two hours: Sting and Shaggy reviewed

25 May 2019 9:00 am

Many is the pop star who has craved gravitas. Only Sting, however, has pursued it by covering John Dowland on…

Eerily accurate: Will Barton as Boris Johnson in The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson. Image: Pamela Raith

This Boris play only gets it half-right

25 May 2019 9:00 am

The opening of Jonathan Maitland’s new play about Boris purports to be based on real events. Just before the referendum,…

A mesmerising retrospective: Victoria Crowe at City Art Centre, Edinburgh, reviewed

25 May 2019 9:00 am

This mesmerising retrospective takes up three floors of the City Art Centre, moving in distinct stages from the reedy flanks…

Composer Amy Beach. Photo: Bridgeman Images

The forgotten masterpieces of Amy Beach

25 May 2019 9:00 am

At the Wigmore Hall last Friday, the Takacs String Quartet and Garrick Ohlsson played a piano quintet that was once…

Sun & Sea (Marina), the Golden Lion-winning opera at the Venice Biennale. Photo: © Andrej Vasilenko

If opera survives, it’ll be thanks to artists and curators, not opera houses

25 May 2019 9:00 am

It was bucketing it down in Venice, yet the beach was heaving. Families, lovebirds, warring kids, a yappy mutt, all…

Sublime: Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman

Rocketman is cheesy and clichéd – and all the better for it

25 May 2019 9:00 am

There have been claims that Rocketman, the biopic of Elton John, is ‘cheesy’ and ‘clichéd’, but, in truth, you do…

Postcard from the edge: The Rings of Saturn (Shingle Street — unused photograph), 1994

From haunted to haunter: the afterlife of W.G. Sebald

18 May 2019 9:00 am

East Anglia, the rump of the British Isles, has inspired a disproportionate number of writers: Robert Macfarlane, Daisy Johnson, Mark…

‘A was an Artist’, from William Nicholson’s An Alphabet, 1897

The duo that broke the mould of poster design

18 May 2019 9:00 am

The best double acts — Laurel and Hardy, Gilbert & George, Rodgers and Hart — are often made up of…

Natalia Osipova, cursed with a frightful Ascot fascinator, a Halloween shock-wig of black pipe cleaners, in Medusa as the Royal Opera House Credit: ©ROH, 2019 Photograph by Tristram Kenton

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s #MeToo Medusa is a bad hair day from Hades

18 May 2019 9:00 am

Medusa is the bad hair day from Hades. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s retelling of the Greek myth is frizzy, tangled and…

Credit: RoBeDeRo

The mosque where it’s the men who make the tea

18 May 2019 9:00 am

On returning from a brief trip to Istanbul, where inside the mosques women are still very much kept to one…

Sharon D. Clarke and Wendell Pierce in Death of a Salesman at the Young Vic Credit: © Brinkhoff Mogenburg

Willy Loman would have been fine if he’d worked in a laundry: Death of a Salesman reviewed

18 May 2019 9:00 am

Colour-blind casting is a denial of history. The Young Vic’s all-black version of Death of a Salesman asks us to…

Andras Schiff Credit: Robert Ghement/EPA/Shutterstock

Anderszewski went at Beethoven’s Diabellis with a nail gun

18 May 2019 9:00 am

Are Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations really ‘the greatest of all piano works’, as Alfred Brendel claims? It’s hardly what you would…

Emma Thompson as Vivienne Rook in Russell T. Davies’s Years and Years. Credit: BBC/Red Productions/Guy Farrow

A clunky exercise in box-ticking: Russell T. Davies’s Years and Years reviewed

18 May 2019 9:00 am

These days, a common way of introducing radio news items is with the words ‘How worried should we be about…?’…

A delightful time machine to a distant past: Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets

A Saturday-night variety show: Take That at the O2 reviewed

18 May 2019 9:00 am

Being old is big business in live music nowadays, in a way it wasn’t even 25 years ago. When Take…

The tropes of noir and the spaghetti western are passed through a magical prism: a scene from Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego’s Birds of Passage

Startlingly fresh and jaggedly strange: Birds of Passage reviewed

18 May 2019 9:00 am

You don’t come across too many films from Colombia, but every few years one wriggles its way through the festival…

Bring me my arrow of desire: the original Italian film poster for Pasolini’s 1974 Il Fiore delle Mille e Una Notte

How film fell for caliphs and slave girls

11 May 2019 9:00 am

Most of Hollywood’s Arabian Nights fantasies are, of course, unadulterated tosh. The Middle East, wrote the American film critic William…

Leah Harvey as Hortense and C.J. Beckford as Michael Roberts in Small Island at the National Theatre Credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

A magnificent work of art (but don’t worry if you miss the first half-hour): Small Island reviewed

11 May 2019 9:00 am

Small Island, based on Andrea Levy’s novel about Jamaican migrants in Britain, feels like the world’s longest book review. We…

The composer sir Michael Tippett. Credit: Erich Auerbach/ Stringer

This concert proves it is time to take Michael Tippett seriously

11 May 2019 9:00 am

In Oliver Soden’s new biography of Michael Tippett, he describes how Tippett wanted to open his Fourth Symphony with the…

Musical shapeshifters: I Faglioni performing Leonardo: Shaping the Invisible at Milton Court Concert Hall Credit: Mark Allan/Barbican

The Holy Grail of concert-going: I Fagiolini deliver serious musicianship that never takes itself too seriously

11 May 2019 9:00 am

We’ve all read the article. It does the rounds with the dispiriting regularity of an unwanted dish on a sushi…

Zahra Elham, the first women to win the show Afghan Star in its 14-year history. Credit: WAKIL KOHSAR / Contributor

Female contestants in Afghanistan’s X Factor are dicing with death

11 May 2019 9:00 am

The cheering fans, the dramatic Hollywood-style drum rolls, the excitable host all sound just like The X Factor or The…

Mighty resurrection: Aretha Franklin in Amazing Grace

A mighty resurrection: Amazing Grace reviewed

11 May 2019 9:00 am

Each December in Washington DC, the Kennedy Center Honors anoints five performing artists who have contributed to American life. In…

It’s all Greek to me: a schoolchild’s homework on a wax tablet, Egypt, 2nd century AD

Would James Joyce have finished Ulysses without coloured pens?

11 May 2019 9:00 am

The Mesopotamians wrote on clay and the ancient Chinese on ox bones and turtle shells. In Egypt, in about 1,800…