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Mika Rottenberg and Mahyad Tousi: Remote ★★★★ Tate Modern | October 9, 2022

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In the not-too-distant future, five women from around the world bond around their shared interest in a Korean dog grooming show. We enter their reality by following the daily life of an isolated expat architect played by Okwui Okpokwasili. Unoaku is living in Kuala Lumpur, and she gradually forms an online friendship with four other women living on their own in Iran, Argentina, Puerto Rico, and South Africa. They come together as a group because they have all noticed something unusual about the clock in their favourite streaming show, and this realisation leads them to the discovery of some curious time/space portals in their various flats. The story is bizarre and charming, and the actors create a delightfully whimsical tone that engages the viewer from the outset. The themes of isolation and connection resonate with the recent Covid experience, but the film also speaks to the redefinition of community and people's relation to the concepts of time and space as these are affected b

Hallyu! The Korean Wave ★★★★★ Victoria & Albert Museum | Sep 24, 2022 - June 25, 2023

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Out of the carnage of war and the challenge of dictatorship, Korea has emerged as a major influencer in the world of technology and culture. This important exhibition traces the story of Korea's extraordinary leap into modernity and global leadership in these areas. It is a beautifully curated look at the phenomenon that is Korean music, fashion, film and television. From PSY's Gangnam Style , through the wildly popular K-Pop groups, to films like Parasite and Minari,  and the incredibly successful television program, Squid Game , Korean cultural productions have become ubiquitous. This exhibition seeks to cover a lot of ground, including Korea's trend-setting impact on fashion and grooming, and it does a splendid job. There are diverting interactive experiences, plus some thoughtful insight into how Korea's new-found influence on world culture is impacting a society steeped in traditional values. The ppali-ppali ('quick-quick') ethos of the new Korea has ine

SUS ★★★ Park Theatre | Sep 21 - Oct 15, 2022

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The late Barrie Keeffe is best known for his classic gangster film, The Long Good Friday . In SUS from 1979 he examines the interplay of politics and policing, and exposes the abuse of the "suspect under suspicion" or "Stop and Search" provision of the criminal code. On the night that Margaret Thatcher is achieving a landslide victory at the polls, Delroy, a young black man is brought to the police station on the belief that he has murdered his wife. While the situation starts with almost playful banter, there are dark undertones to his interrogation that turn to racist abuse and violence. Stedroy Cabey convincingly portrays the trajectory of an initially self-assured Delroy who only gradually realises the dangerous situation he is in. We see him visibly recognise that he is being set up and his confidence crumbles. As the two police inquisitors, who are determined to wring a confession from their suspect, Alexander Neal and Fergal Coghlan are palpably venal and in

A Night At The Kabuki ★★★★★ Sadler's Wells Theatre | September 22 - 24, 2022

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A Night At The Kabuki is a night like no other! This is an evening that draws on amazingly disparate sources to create an eye-popping spectacle that will leave you laughing, slightly bewildered and utterly entranced. Who would have thought to bring together Kabuki and the feuding samurai clans of the Minamoto and Taira, with an updated version of Romeo and Juliet  plus the music of Queen? Playwright and director Hideki Noda has whipped up an amazing creation, and in some unfathomable way it all works. This is a mind-boggling entertainment that owes as much to the Marx Brothers as it does to William Shakespeare. Inspired by the Queen album, A Night At The Opera , and also by the film of the same name, this extravaganza is a fascinating commentary on the relationship between the "high art" of two very different cultures as opposed to the appeal of popular entertainment. We have the current "high art" fad for meta stories mixed with good old crowd-pleasing spectacle a

William Kentridge ★★★★★ Royal Academy of Arts | Sep 24 - Dec 11, 2022

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William Kentridge is an amazingly prolific South African artist who works in an astonishing variety of media. To date, this is the largest exhibition of his work in the UK and the project was four and a half years in development. It is surprisingly comprehensive, starting with charcoal drawings and linocuts, extending through Kentridge's films, sculptures, tapestries and theatrical projects. There is even a look at his work in the opera. Kentridge is an artist whose work is rooted in his home, Johannesburg, and in South Africa, but his appeal is universal. It is easy to identify with his sharp look at topical issues and political injustice, and with his unsparing exposure of human frailty and folly which is wryly empathetic. Indeed, all these pieces reward the time invested in their contemplation. We particularly enjoyed the films and the Black Box / Chambre Noire (2005) presentation. This exhibition is completely captivating, and our one bit of advice would be to set aside enough

Maria Bartuszová ★★★★ Tate Modern | Sep 20, 2022 - Apr 16, 2023

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Maria Bartuszová is a Slovakian artist who only enjoyed a small number of exhibitions during her lifetime. This important presentation of the artist's work at the Tate Modern provides a fascinating look at her output over several decades and should consolidate her reputation as an important voice in late twentieth century European sculpture. Bartuszová takes her inspiration from natural forms and her primary medium is plaster. However, this exhibition also displays some of her work in bronze and aluminum, and looks at her various commissions for sculpture in public spaces. Much of the work seeks to capture the ephemeral. Bartuszová uses innovative sculptural methods to record the impression of raindrops and to fix the shape of balloons. Her work is full of fascinating contradictions as the fragile becomes durable and the impermanent becomes imperishable. Similarly, while her shapes are organic they are drained of colour to expose their essence. This exhibition which traces the dev

The Apology ★★★★ Arcola Theatre | Sep 15 - Oct 8, 2022

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The World War II history of military sexual slavery in Korea by Japanese forces is a story that has only relatively recently come to light. It is estimated that up to as many as two hundred thousand women may have suffered from this practice, although it has been consistently denied or swept under the carpet by various governments. In The Apology , playwright, Kyo Choi, shines a light on the UN investigation of these horrific acts and also humanises that abstract reality through the narrative of one family's journey to truth. The official uncovering of this systemic abuse is interwoven with the exposure of its impact on those who directly suffered oppression and on those who are its heirs. Jessie Baek gives a compelling performance as Kwon Bok-Hae who as a teenager is lured into becoming a 'comfort woman' and who later exposes her sufferings. Kwong Loke is wonderfully understated as her husband, Han Min, who has his own survival secret from the war, and Minhee Yeo captures

The Prince ★★★★★ Southwark Playhouse | Sep 15 - Oct 8, 2022

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What if you suddenly discovered that you were trapped in a play, living according to a script not of your own choosing? This is the provocative and amusing premise of The Prince . Two intruders into the world of Henry IV, Part I challenge the assumptions that the characters have been living with, and try to awaken them to a sense of their real selves. Joni Ayton-Kent as Sam and Mary Malone as Jen are hysterical as these two unlikely messengers of personal freedom, and they do an excellent job of setting the comic tone of the piece. Corey Montague Sholay also does fine work as the emergent Prince Hal, who in this case is coming out as gay to his formidable father, brilliantly played by Che Walker. Ultimately however, this evening belongs to Abigail Thorn. She creates a convincing and captivating Hotspur, and she has written a play that is both charming and challenging. It becomes a metaphor for the fact, that we all exist within a cultural context that defines both our self-perception

The Two Popes ★★★★ Rose Theatre | September 9 - 23, 2022

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In a time when there is a great deal of talk about succession and about the effect that a change of individuals at the top might have on a long-standing institution, The Two Popes by Anthony McCarten might seem a particularly apt piece of theatre. The resignation of Benedict XVI in 2013 was a shocking event. It was the first time in 700 years that a pope had resigned, and his successor seemed to be a very different individual from the so-called "prince of the status quo." Argentinian Cardinal Bergoglio, later known as Francis I, appeared to be a reformer. Time has shown that this contrast between the two men, while dramatically satisfying, might have been a rather unreal proposition. In retrospect The Two Popes seems rather ironic as it sets up a dialogue between two individuals while almost ignoring their context as part of a religious institution. McCarten's play underestimates his protagonists' roles as political beings within a highly politicised organisation e

The P Word ★★★★ Bush Theatre | Sep 9 - Oct 22, 2022

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The P Word presents the very different experiences of two gay men. Zafar has experienced love and enjoys a sense of self-acceptance, but he has been persecuted in Pakistan and is now seeking refugee status in Britain. Bilal or Billy, who has grown up in London, struggles both with his relationship to his ethnicity and to the gay world. The latter seems to offer lots of sexual options, but few opportunities for a relationship. The two meet and form a bond which allows Billy to develop his sense of self-acceptance and to be less judgmental of others. At that same time, he becomes an activist on the issue of immigration and acts to help Zafar deal with the appallingly unfair and degrading reality of the refugee process. Waleed Akhtar has written a play that takes on a great many complex and challenging issues, and he creates intriguing and sympathetic characters, which are all subsumed in the exposé of Britain's flawed refugee claimant process. The P Word becomes a really quite har

Love All ★★★★★ Jermyn Street Theatre | Sep 8 - Oct 8, 2022

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Dorothy L. Sayers knew how to tell a good story, with lots of unexpected twists and turns. Mostly known for her crime fiction, she proves with Love All that she can also write a thoroughly enjoyable farce. Godfrey Daybrook, delightfully played by Alan Cox, is a romantic novelist who is actually a victim of his own unrealistic fiction. He casts himself as the central character in his own love story and sees all the women in his life as mere adjuncts to his genius. When his mistress, Lydia, decides that being a muse is less interesting than being a working actress, and when his wife, Edith, decides that a career as a playwright is more rewarding than playing housewife, Godfrey's vanity and self-absorption are hilariously exposed. The target of most great farces is hypocrisy, and in this case, Sayers' does an excellent job of skewering her target. She successfully uses laughter, rather than preaching, to expose the importance of work for personal fulfillment and to advance the ca

Yellowman ★★★★ Orange Tree Theatre | Sep 5 - Oct 8, 2022

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Yellowman , the Pulitzer Prize nominated play by Dael Orlandersmith deals with the issue of colourism which is "prejudice based on skin tone mostly, but not always, from members of the same race." The title character, Eugene, is subject to expectations and discrimination because of his lighter colour, while his friend and love interest to be, Alma, is taught a lack of self-worth because of her size and darker skin tone. Both characters are trapped by this vicious hierarchy of colour: their brief idyll of childhood and the fleeting period of romantic escape to New York are ultimately extinguished by the demons of colourism and alcoholism that haunt their upbringing in South Carolina. The play is unremittingly grim and extremely moving. Aaron Anthony puts in a fine performance as Eugene, and his development from oblivious child to forlorn inheritor of his tangled history is beautifully crafted. Nadine Higgin does an equally strong job as Alma, who strives to overcome the viciou

Antigone ★★★★ Regent's Park Open Air Theatre | September 3 - 24, 2022

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Attempts to contemporise and recontextualise Sophocles' Antigone are not infrequent, but this is one of the most successful we have yet to see. Writer, Inua Ellams, brings out the themes of the original play in the context of current British political issues such as terrorism, immigration and the legacies of empire. It is a quite brilliant interpretation that brings to the fore all of the power and complexity of the original in a context that frighteningly resonates with today's events. The political debate is raw and real, and Tony Jayawardena as Creon rings terrifyingly true to what we are seeing in the current climate of political manipulation. This is an outstanding performance that could unfortunately pass for television news. Sandy Grierson as Creon's political advisor, Aleksy, is wonderfully unctuous in his amoral commitment to attaining power at all costs, and the reimagining of the seer, Tiresius, as a data wonk is simply inspired. Pandora Colin as Eurydice provid

Winslow Homer: Force of Nature ★★★★★ The National Gallery | Sep 10, 2022 - Jan 8, 2023

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Winslow Homer (1836-1910) is one of America's best known and most beloved painters. This major exhibition co-organised with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York should bring to the fore his importance for British lovers of the arts. Homer came of age in the Civil War and his early experience as a printmaker brought him to the front as part of the press coverage of that cataclysm. In the first gallery of this exhibition, War and 'Reconstruction' Homer depicts scenes from the conflict and its aftermath. Enigmatic and thought provoking works like Prisoners from the Front (1866) and A Visit from the Old Mistress (1876) capture so much of American history that continues to inform the country's contemporary political landscape. The war experience had a lasting impact on both the artist and his art, and his concern with social issues never left him. It is present in the room, Rescue Scenes & Cullercoats , which catalogues his visit to England and his admiration for

Rehab The Musical ★★★ The Playground Theatre | September 1 - 17, 2022

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After being set up in a drugs exposé, Kid Pop (Jonny Labey) is given the choice between jail time or six months in rehab. Convinced that the latter is the easy alternative, the rock star opts to spend his time at The Glade. At that residence he meets a variety of individuals who are broken by various addictions, and he gradually moves from an arrogant dismissal of both his, and their, issues to a recognition of the possibility of leading a healthy life of self-acceptance. Along the way, he encounters love in the form of Lucy (Gloria Onitiri) and learns of the perfidy of his publicist Malcolm Stone (Keith Allen). The reformation story has a comforting familiarity and it plays out much as might be expected. The show has some good tunes and we particularly liked "Two Broken People" and the haunting "Museum Of Loss" which was beautifully rendered by Onitiri. Another standout was "Die At Twenty Seven And You'll Live Forever" performed by Jodie Steele. As St

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo ★★★★★ Sadler's Wells Peacock Theatre | September 6 - 17, 2022

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There is nothing quite like The Trocks! Whether you're a balletomane or a fan of RuPaul's Drag Race, there's something here for everyone. After nearly fifty years, the troupe is still entertaining audiences with what are inspired parodies of the ballet classics. The company's gentle humour pokes fun at dance conventions and clichés, while slyly commenting on stereotyping both inside and outside the world of dance. The satire is subtle and the political points are unobtrusive, but beneath the froth and folly there is some real significance and some very serious dancing. Indeed, what makes for a lot of the fun here is the real prowess of these dancers. Their considerable skills make it doubly amusing when they mess up or when they apparently break character and expose the emotions behind their assumed classical hauteur. The company's "Le Lac Des Cygnes (Swan Lake, Act II)" is simply to die for, and we loved the "Swan Lake Pas De Trois" with its bri

Silence ★★★★ Donmar Warehouse | September 1 - 17, 2022

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Too often history is seen as events that happened a long time ago and in a place far away. This theatrical adaptation of Kavita Puri's book, Partition Voices: Untold British Stories , demonstrates that history is about people and that it is always present in the here and now. Silence consists of the harrowing, yet sometimes humorous, voices of real people who lived through the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. Their personal and painful stories humanise the consequences of political decisions taken with strange haste and apparently little thought. The supposed resolution of issues is exposed as exacerbating subsequent conflict and creating unintended consequences for the future of the families and nations involved. But, while it might be easy to be overwhelmed by this dark view of the human condition, the narratives also reveal the beauty, resilience and goodness of individual people. The quality of the acting varies in this production, but we were particularly struck

Barb Jungr sings Leonard Cohen ★★★★★ The Crazy Coqs, Brasserie Zédel | September 2, 2022

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Leonard Cohen is a an extraordinary artist. He is a challenging poet/songwriter whose works do not give up their meanings easily and his themes can be dark and sometimes disturbing. His commentary on both politics and relationships is usually stark and unsentimental. "Everybody Knows" and "First We Take Manhattan" challenge, and almost threaten, the listener politically. The 'love' songs "Suzanne" and "So Long Marianne" are wistful and tinged with disappointment. Indeed, Cohen's world is haunted by broken relationships and betrayal, but there is also a promise of reconciliation and redemption. Barb Jungr does an extraordinary job of presenting the poet's musical musings, and it is always a joy to hear her interpret these works. She does so with skill and intelligence, and she brings drama and clarity to the complex emotions that Cohen conjures up in songs like "Bird on The Wire" and "You Want It Darker." She

A Different Stage ★★★★★ Duke of York's Theatre | Aug 30 - Sep 25, 2022

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Just the name of singer and songwriter, Gary Barlow, guarantees an audience for this show. But even without that draw, this is a compelling piece of theatre. Fans looking for a wander down memory lane with a review of the greatest hits may be somewhat disappointed because this is a play, not a concert. It explores the arc of a singer/songwriter's life while unraveling the common threads of the human experience. From the quest for success, through the valley of depression and self-doubt, to a recognition of what is actually important, Gary Barlow's journey is a universal and inspiring one. Yes, he is a pop star who has written some beloved hits, but in this evening he exposes the highs and lows of his life with devastating honesty and a delightful sense of irony. Gary Barlow shares his coming of age, his dreams and his values. He grows up believing that music makes things better, and he aspires to a shining place down the M56. What he learns is that music may make things better

RIDE - A New Musical ★★★★ Charing Cross Theatre | Aug 25 - Sep 17, 2022

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Con artist or role model? Imposter or Inspiration? Annie Kopchovsky aka Annie Londonderry is a paradoxical character who lives in a world of fact and fiction. Her bicycle trip around the world in 1895 is the stuff of legend, and her self-promotion recalls the exploits of P.T. Barnum. RIDE is a musical version of this story, and it is told with sympathy and insight, as the layers of Annie's invention are peeled away to expose the desperate woman whose derring-do and resourcefulness are undeniable. Trapped in a world that defines her by gender, class, religion and ethnicity, she reimagines her reality and motivates others to believe in their personal destinies. Liv Andrusier does a remarkable job of bringing Annie to life. She exudes a completely credible combination of bravado, charisma and self-doubt. As Annie's foils, Martha and Celine, Yuki Sutton also puts in a fine performance. Her growing belief in her mentor's vision and her developing self-confidence is palpable. As

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