Arts: The Week in Review

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The Week in Review

THE FILM MULAN

Walt Disney's latest

animated feature sees a young girl disguising herself as a male soldier in order to spare her ailing father from certain death in combat with the Huns.

"This set-up has got it all," said Ryan Gilbey. "A pro-active heroine, a strong father/daughter relationship, honour and nobility and, of course, cross-dressing. Moderately risky fun for all the family." "The message couldn't be more politically correct or ... decently entertaining," concurred the Evening Standard, while Time Out pointed to "unusually adventurous animated fare". "Another Disney triumph," chirped the Daily Mail.

Mulan boasts up-to-date values and is crammed with clever gags that will satisfy adults and children alike. The best animated feature from the Disney stable this decade.

Mulan is on general release, certificate U, 89 minutes.

THE PLAY ORESTEIA

Romanian director Silviu Purcarete's production of Aeschylus's tragic trilogy of revenge at London's Barbican. Presented by the National Theatre of Craiova.

"Highly arresting," surmised Paul Taylor, "though the horror slips into uneasy comedy, especially when Valer Dellakeza's slob of an Aegisthus uses Agamemnon's corpse as a trampoline." "Traditionally a journey from savagery to civilization, from blood-grudge to nascent democracy, Purcarete has few problems with the savagery," observed The Guardian, while the Financial Times grumbled, "Witty in a stupid kind of way. The lyricism of Aeschylus's choral writing is completely ignored, not to mention its moral seriousness."

Flouting the Greek convention of keeping violence off stage, Purcarete's offering is spectacularly bloodthirsty and full of black humour: surely a comment on Romania's own political journey to democracy.

Tonight is the last showing of Silviu Purcarete's Oresteia. Barbican, London EC2, 7.45pm. For bookings and enquiries call 0171-638 8891.

THE EXHIBITION AUBREY BEARDSLEY

The brief career of the Victorian illustrator, famed for the images that accompanied Oscar Wilde's Salome, goes on show at London's V&A to mark the centenary of his death.

"What's disconcerting about Beardsley's art is that it's so knowing," praised Tom Lubbock. "There's no effect which isn't perfectly judged and anticipated. It doesn't prevent it from being one of the wonders of the modern world." "The most subversive and endlessly fascinating images in British art," exclaimed the Daily Telegraph. "The joyously phallocentric Lysistrata illustrations are so in-your-face that one might still gasp," cried The Times. "Starved of colour? You've got to be kidding."

Characterised by graphic inventiveness, searing intelligence and delightful dirty-mindedness, Aubrey Beardsley's stark (and mostly) black-and-white illustrations still manage to startle the viewer after a century.

Aubrey Beardsley is at the V&A, South Kensington, London SW7 until 10 January. pounds 5, concs pounds 3.50. For bookings and enquiries call 0171-938 8500.

THE DANCE RAMBERT DANCE COMPANY

To celebrate the opening of London's Sadler's Wells Theatre, the Rambert Dance Company perform work choreographed by Jiri Kylian, Christopher Bruce and Paul Taylor.

"Rambert are a splendid troupe, but most of the gala audience was really there to see the theatre and kiss air," observed Louise Levene. "It was superbly danced, but not the stuff to give this lot." "Rambert were on top form," prattled the Daily Mail. "The dancers displayed fantastic virtuosity." "I wish I could feel that it was the happiest of omens that the first choreographies on this stage should be by Kylian," moaned the Financial Times. "Two of his dance pieces lumbered on, offering a lowest common denominator of angst and posturing."

The new Sadler's Wells deserved a show that pulled out all the stops and showed off the potential of their new dance venue. But despite an adequate performance by Rambert, the low-key show failed to rise to the occasion.

Today sees the final performances by the Rambert Dance Company, at 2.30 and 7.30pm. The Royal Ballet's programme begins on Tuesday. Sadler's Well's Theatre, Rosebery Avenue, London EC1. For bookings and enquiries call 0171-863 8000.

THE ALBUM THE CARDIGANS

The Swedish quintet headed by Nina Persson follow up their chart- hugging hit "Love Fool" with Gran Turismo, a thoughtful collection of melodies written by guitarist Peter Svensson.

"`Do You Believe' is one of several tracks on which the band's cynicism simply curdles the song," observed Andy Gill. "Fortunately it is outweighed by the likes of `Explode' which have distinct echoes of the sleek glamour of Blondie's disco hits." "Mixing crisp European dance beats with dense guitar, they have toughened up, and the outcome is impressive," opined the Daily Mail. "A series of melodies that weighs on the ears - the kind that lonely souls in bedsits will be first to appreciate," mumbled the Daily Mirror.

This maturer effort from the Swedish combo is underpinned with a cynicism that marks a pleasant departure from the schmaltzy pop of "Love Fool", though it may prove a little too miserable to be memorable.

The Cardigan's Gran Turismo will be available in the record shops from Monday.

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