Culture

Sex in the City

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Review of 'Sidewalks of New York', director Edward Burns

New York is the setting for this exploration of love, deceit, and the neuroses of six people in and out of various relationships. 'Sidewalks of New York' is an attempt to understand the interaction of the city with its inhabitants, and the impact of this on their lives and their relationships.

The Faultline Between Love and War

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Review of 'A Russian in the Woods' by Peter Whelan, Barbican, London

Peter Whelan's play deals with the human wreckage of war and imperialistic rivalry. Set in a devastated Berlin in 1949, this production focuses on Pat Harford, a young British soldier. He arrives in Germany shortly after superpower politics have changed direction. Stalin has metamorphosed into a totalitarian dictator intent on conquest, and the storm clouds of a new conflict gather.

A Block on the Past

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Review of 'Sorrows and Rejoicings' by Athol Fugard, Tricycle Theatre, London

Athol Fugard's 'Sorrows and Rejoicings' is an exploration of the life of a dissident poet.

Dawid, an anti-apartheid Afrikaaner intellectual, has died. His widow, Allison, and his black house servant, Marta, begin a compelling retrospective of his life. Allison, who returns to Karoo village for the funeral, may own the house, but she is unmistakably a stranger in what is Marta's home.

Divided Loyalties

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Review of 'A Masked Ball' by Giuseppe Verdi, English National Opera, London

The new production of Verdi's 'A Masked Ball' (1859) by Spanish director Calixto Bieito has unleashed a wave of media hysteria. Not only has Bieito transferred the setting from 18th century Sweden to post-Franco Spain, but he seems almost to have invited controversy--the opera opens with a row of 14 conspirators sitting on the toilet.

War and Peace

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Review of 'No Man's Land', director Danis Tanovic

Sometimes you see an image so often that it becomes familiar and meaningless, and the scenes of wars we see on television are one example. During the civil war that consumed Yugoslavia in the 1990s, a television reporter would talk to camera in front of armoured personnel carriers full of UN peacekeepers, the sound of shelling going on behind them. But it does not take much to make an apparently familiar situation seem new.

Grim Fairy Tales

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Review of 'Shockheaded Peter' by Heinrich Hoffman, Albany Theatre, London

'Shockheaded Peter' is billed as junk opera. It's a musical with songs like you've never heard, and it looks like a cross between a sinister Victorian play written by Roald Dahl, and a film directed by Tim Burton and starring the child catcher from 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang'. It's dark and sinister but it's also extremely funny. The show is based on a collection of German children's stories called 'Struwwelpeter', written in 1844 by Dr Heinrich Hoffman.

Head Above the Rest

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Review of 'Richard III' by William Shakespeare, Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

'If you believe no one is born bad, that it's the world that makes them bad, then 'Richard III' becomes a fascinating play about the human condition.' So comments Michael Grandage, the director of a recent sell-out run of 'Richard III' at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre.

The actor who plays Derby in the production also comments that 'people are not physically beheaded in England (today) for disagreeing with whoever's in power, but they are politically beheaded.'

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