THE WEEK IN REVIEW

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The Independent Culture
THE PLAY

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

overview

Peter Zadek's Berliner Ensemble production, first seen in Vienna in 1988, is set in the modern world of high finance, with Gert Voss as a blond, blue-eyed, assimilated Shylock. critical view Paul Taylor noted that, even if you don't like Zadek's angle, at least "it goes about its business with uncommon speed." The Guardian praised Voss's "brilliant, commanding Shylock", but the Financial Times wasn't having any of it. "It is galling to see so fine an actor [Voss] throwing away so rich a role... There were a couple of boos at the end, but they weren't nearly loud enough." on view Too late; there were just the two performances in Edinburgh. our view Zadek's production - so Eighties, darling - looks to have passed its sell-by date, but Gert Voss's central performance is still marvellous. THE FESTIVAL READING overview Alternative Glyndebourne for the pop-loving crusty-trousered crew this year boasted appearances by Courtney Love's band Hole, Bjork, and godfather of grunge Neil Young, playing with Pearl Jam. critical view Ryan Gilbey was awed by Courtney Love: "brought tears to her eyes and ours". John Peel in the Guardian found her "disconcerting, embarrassing and brilliant", while Bjork was dismissed as "stubbornly indigestible". The Daily Telegraph sniffed at the youngsters in "an awful lot of very ordinary guitar bands" and shacked up with the oldies' crew: "making rock music is best left to the Young". on view What's another year? our view Courtney Love was the undisputed queen of a festival that, as usual, mixed the brilliant with the pretty dodgy. THE OPERA IL TRITTICO OVERVIEW Eminent thesp-turned-opera-director Simon Callow strikes a blow against idea-laden "director's theatre" - no Peter Zadek, he - putting Puccini's little-staged triptych of short works back in their original context. CRITICAL VIEW Della Couling praised the acting and directing, but the "Broomhill stage was hopelessly cluttered" and "the operas were sung in an Italian that was largely incomprehensible". The Times noted approvingly that "Callow's approach concentrates attention on the performers." "Callow's imagination bristles with ideas, natural, easy movement and closely observed characterisation," sang the Telegraph. ON VIEW In rep to 10 Sep, Broomhill, nr Tunbridge Wells (01892 517720) OUR VIEW Despite language problems, and the too-small stage, this is a fine opportunity to catch a sensitive reading of Puccini's rarely performed work in its entirety. THE FILM :JEANNE LA PUCELLE OVERVIEW That's Joan of Arc to you. French auteur Jacques Rivette, responsible for La Belle Noiseuse, brings us another very long movie. Sandrine Bonnaire is the eponymous virgin soldier in a four-hour work. CRITICAL VIEW Sheila Johnston found it "conventional, humourless, academic. Sandrine Bonnaire is a stolid, rather passionless Joan." But the Guardian made it film of the week: "fascinating... those who can suffer it at all may not forget it in a hurry." The Times was confused - "you desperately need a nice coloured map, or a history teacher" - but concluded, "It is a work of substance, dignified, intelligent." ON VIEW At the Renoir, London WC1 (0171-837 8402) OUR VIEW Low-budget - the battles look improbably underpopulated - and yawnsome: tells us nothing new about an already well-known story.

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