Arts: The Week in Review

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The Independent Culture
The Week in Review


Jonathan Demme's adaptation of Toni Morrison's novel sees Oprah Winfrey's Sethe haunted by the ghost of her murdered child (Thandie Newton).

"It isn't exactly boring, but it lacks any of the qualities that could sustain its inordinate length: narrative drive, passionate engagement, thematic complexity," observed Anthony Quinn. "Beloved deserves its bravery medal, but at three hours, it's a grim stretch," remarked The Guardian, while the Daily Mail noted: "Despite its strengths and admirable intentions, it is a tract rather than an attraction." "Almost unendurable tedium," spluttered the Evening Standard, while The Daily Telegraph deemed it "a sumptuous, fascinating failure". "Demme weaves ghosts, memory and the pain of the present into a beguiling tapestry," revealed The Big Issue.

Director Jonathan Demme glosses the deep-rooted terror of Morrison's story with taste. A heartfelt but ultimately dull picture which could have done with being about an hour shorter.

Beloved is out on nationwide release, certificate 15.

171 minutes


John Crowley directs

the brooding and handsome Rufus Sewell in Shakespeare's bloody tragedy.

Sally Dexter plays his conniving wife.

"If the ghost fails to materialise in the supper party scene, then so does any real sense of the horror and the harrowing sadness of this tragedy," reasoned Paul Taylor, continuing: "Sewell looks to be badly out of his depth." "If blood is Macbeth's crucial, animating fluid, then this production suffers from severe anaemia," reproached the Evening Standard. "You will find nothing very rich or exotic in this brutalist production," wrote The Times, while the Financial Times warned: "Sewell fans will be disappointed by Shakespeare. Shakespeare fans will be disappointed by Sewell." "Sewell and Dexter are an ideal deadly couple," countered the Daily Mail.

Sewell fails to invite sympathy or convey tragedy in Crowley's spartan production. His visible discomfort has placed him on the illustrious list of actors to have been defeated by Macbeth.

Macbeth is at the Queen's Theatre, W1 until 5 June. For booking and enquiries call 0171-494 5040.


39 year-old dancer Irek Mukhamedov stars in Kim Brandstrup's austere staging of The Return Of Don Juan, partly based on a Danish radio play by Oluf Bang.

"There can be few men able to roll their eyes more fetchingly than Irek Mukhamedov, or stroll more sinuously across the boards. Whether the show does justice to its star is another matter," observed John Percival. "Intelligent, yes, well-executed, visually stylish - but hardly the point in Don Juan," remarked the Daily Telegraph, crying: "Where's the sex?" "Brandstrup's choreographic text has many virtues, and Mukhamedov is here at full and superlative stretch," pronounced the Financial Times, while The Times stated, "This show proves Mukhamedov's stage power remains undiminished, that he is charismatic and forceful as ever."

A sublime performance from Mukhamedov makes Don Juan worth seeing, though the production was hindered by a confused narrative and the lumbering rhythms of Kim Helweg's score.

Wednesday's was the last show at Sadler's Wells, though a national tour includes the Wimbledon Theatre, 13-15 April, 0181-540 0362


Retro-hippies Kula Shaker follow-up their million-selling debut album K with more Sixties-style psychedelic rock in Peasants, Pigs and Astronauts.

"A truly horrible and half-baked affair, full of bogus portents of a `new world'," bemoaned Andy Gill. "Ludicrous lyrics and ramshackle philosophising detract from Kula Shaker's undoubted musical flair," grumbled the Daily Mail. "Mills has a tendency to chuck out fourth-form theories on life as if he was imparting pearls of wisdom," mumbled the Daily Mirror. "Someone involved with this fiasco must know that this is The Worst Album Ever Made," barked Time Out. "Reheated prog rock condescension and large helpings of superficial ethnicity," fulminated Uncut. "A spirited attempt to embrace the ridiculous," conceded the NME.

Another Bluffer's Guide To Hinduism from Crispian Mills and his patchouli- oiled friends. Trite philosophical observations and overblown prog rock fashion this truly ludicrous album.

Peasants, Pigs and Astronauts (Columbia) will be available in record shops from Monday