Monocolumn

A daily bulletin of news & opinion

5 June 2015

THEATRE: Everyman, London

“It’s spectacular, it’s stylish, it’s got some moral metaphysical weight behind it: this is a centuries-old folk play but updated for our times – and it’s pretty terrific”

Donald Hutera, theatre critic

Oscar-nominated star of 12 Years A Slave, Chiwetel Ejiofor, takes to the stage of London’s National Theatre over the coming weeks for a new interpretation of traditional morality play Everyman. But it’s not just a stellar onstage cast that had theatre-critic Donald Hutera excited on The Monocle Arts Review this week. The play has the National Theatre’s new artistic-director Rufus Norris providing the cues and its words come from the UK’s poet-laureate Carol Ann Duffy – not to mention choreography from award-winning Venezuelan dancer Javier de Frutos – for an everyman production of unrivalled distinction.

ART: Katrina Palmer: End Matter, Portland Bill, UK

“You’re in a piece of sculpture or a piece of installation art and then you’re suddenly walking back out through a field – it’s kind of magical”

Ossian Ward, head of content at Lisson Gallery and writer on contemporary art

End Matter is a collaboration between British artist Katrina Palmer, arts organisation Artangel and BBC Radio 4 that is creating art on a monolithic scale – taking over the whole of Portland Bill: a narrow slither of land off the Dorset coast in the UK (the home of Portland stone, no less). End Matter combines the windswept surroundings, audio narration and other immersive mediums to create a piece of work that is as much a stroll through the local landscape as it is a wander through the mind’s uneven and treacherous terrain. And you can always stop to simply enjoy the view.

MUSIC: Frazey Ford, Indian Ocean

“Country music probably isn’t the first genre that springs to mind when you hear this record because there’s a lot of soul in there as well”

Baylen Leonard, DJ and broadcaster

Frazey Ford was one third of Canadian country and folk act the Be Good Tanyas, who achieved global recognition after forming in Vancouver in 1999. Now solo, Ford’s second album is a gorgeous combination of playful country lyrics and heartfelt soul, with the Reverend Al Green’s old backing band delivering more than just a little authenticity to proceedings. Indian Ocean pushes the boundaries of what we know a country record to be and sound like, and yet somehow still sounds as natural as a good old-fashioned singalong on the back porch.

FILM: Second Coming

“As it built up, one scene after the other, I was taken by a sensational sense that I’d seen something new and fresh”

Kaleem Aftab, film critic

This domestic drama set in mundane urban surroundings stars Idris Elba as Mark and Nadine Marshall as Jacqueline, a couple at a loss to explain a pregnancy in which there is no known father: a virgin birth. But the religious undertones stop there. Second Coming is a classic kitchen-sink drama given an extra sense of foreboding and gravity by director Debbie Tucker Green’s theatre background and some excellent performances that make an unbelievable premise seem like a very real challenge.

BOOK: When the Facts Change: Essays 1995-2010 by Tony Judt

“What becomes most palpable from it all is how much we still need a historian of Judt’s compassion; one of his intellect and voice”

Chris Frey, editor-in-chief of ‘Hazlitt’ and Monocle’s Toronto correspondent

Tony Judt was the British-born historian and essayist who was never afraid to challenge popular narratives until his death in 2010. Themes running throughout his work range from questioning the legitimacy of the state of Israel to the humour of the Marx brothers. And it is that willingness to cast arguments in charismatically unpretentious new molds that defines much of When the Facts Change. A clue to Judt’s forward-thinking approach lies in the title itself: a shortened version of economist John Maynard Keynes’ none-more practical statement, “When the facts change, I change my mind.”

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