Arts: The Week in Review

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The Independent Culture


Platform boots and white Lycra fashion Phyllida Lloyd's first musical. The greatest hits of Abba are seasoned with the story of a young girl's quest to discover the true identity of her father, on the eve of her wedding.

Critical view

"Ridiculously enjoyable... [this] handsome production provides a terrific mood of airborne silliness," cried Paul Taylor. "A notch above those West End musicals that have rehashed yesterday's pop songs with shabby sets and scrappy storylines," asserted the Daily Telegraph. "Catchy, enjoyable, melodic, but a bit bland," muttered The Guardian, while the Daily Mail pronounced it: "Cheekily conceived and thoroughly enjoyable." "Abba fans will forgive anything. And with so much fun in the theatrical air, we might as well indulge them," said The Times. "Mamma Mia! lies heavy on this dyspeptic stomach," grumbled the Evening Standard.

Our view

Lloyd's foray into musicals is a welcome one. Cleverly integrating a plot into a host of Abba hits, Mamma Mia! is riotous good fun.

On view

Mamma Mia! is booking at the Prince Edward Theatre, London W1 until September. For enquiries, call 0171-447 5400.



Lisa Cholodenko's picture charts the burgeoning affair between junkie photographer Lucy (Ally Sheedy) and magazine editor Syd (Radha Mitchell), while taking potshots at the trivial nature of New York living.

"Beautifully shot and hauntingly scored, this film stays in the bloodstream long after the credits have rolled," wrote Charlotte O'Sullivan. "Visually and verbally compelling... the two leads are superb," declared The Guardian. "Though the milieu may be phoney, the feeling is authentic," decided the Daily Telegraph. "Sheedy and Mitchell prove that gay eroticism in cinema can bypass pornography to find the heart and mind," stated the Financial Times. "High Art isn't high art, but it's a beguiling love story: gold spun out of grime," revealed The Express, while Time Out deemed it "keenly observed ... palpable erotic charge."

An elegant and involving love story that boasts one of the performances of the year from ex-Bratpacker Ally Sheedy.

High Art is on nationwide release, cert 18. 101 minutes



Paul Rhys, wearing pyjamas throughout, takes on the role of the procrastinating protagonist in Laurence Boswell's offbeat new production of William Shakespeare's tragedy.

"The strong thread of Rhys's performance compensates for some interpretative niggles in a basically very intelligent production," opined Paul Taylor. "Quietly gripping," whispered the Daily Telegraph, adding "with his delicate, curiously waxen face, Rhys is a hypersensitive Hamlet... heading into a fevered but never exaggerated breakdown." "There have been more electrifying Hamlets but not many much wittier or more intelligently philosophical," gushed the Daily Mail. "The play has scale and import... but not heart," sighed the Financial Times. "To be blunt, I found Rhys a bit monotonous," confessed The Times.

Paul Rhys balances Hamlet's sense of martyrdom with his wit and sensitivity in this striking but slightly flawed production.

Hamlet is at the Young Vic Theatre, London SE1 until 15 May. For bookings and enquiries call 0171- 928 6363