The week in review

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The Independent Culture

Damn Yankees


Jack O'Brien directs the Broadway revival of the classic Fifties musical, book by George Abbott, score by Adler and Ross, in which small- town Joe sells his soul to the devil (Jerry Lewis) in return for becoming a hero who bats his local baseball team to victory.

Paul Taylor declared "Damn Yankees is damn good." "This exuberant revival proves you can dance your way to success ... A triumph of energy," applauded the FT. "Fails to honour the dark side of the show ... but the songs of Adler and Ross are a joy," said The Mail. "That rare thing, a musical with both good tunes and a decent plot ... it's strong on team spirit but lacks focus," observed the Standard. "This ludicrously enjoyable revival transports the audience back to a happier, more innocent and possibly wiser age," thrilled The Daily Telegraph. "A good example of the middle- ranking, mid-Fifties American musical: not wildly exciting but harmlessly pleasant," claimed The Guardian. "It's irresistible," raved The Times.

Adelphi Theatre, London WC2. Booking: 0171-344 0055

There's more life in this boisterous, high-spirited show than the whole of Beauty and the Beast.

Derek Deane choreographs the world's favourite ballet at the Royal Albert Hall, in the round, complete with 60 swans. Patrick Woodroffe provides this ENB production with a carpet of dry ice. The Kirov's Altynai Asylmuratova dances Odette opposite Roberto Bolle's Seigfried.

Louise Levene was thoroughly charmed. "At the climax to the ballroom pas de deux a shudder of triumph ran across her (Altynai's) torso and a thrill of pleasure ran through the audience." "Who could resist the message of a stage full of beautiful people dancing their hearts out?" wondered The Mail. The Telegraph, for one. Its critic sneered: "If ballet has to sell its masterpieces down the river like this to get a new audience, is that audience, frankly, worth having?" "It works so well that we seem to be seeing Swan Lake with fresh eyes," disagreed its sister paper, The Sunday Telegraph. "Act II's white pas de deux is almost invisible amid the clutter of swans," worried The Times.

Royal Albert Hall, London until 11 June 11. Tickets 0171-589 8212

The ENB'S Swan Lake reminds us there's more to this ballet than white tutus and dry ice.

JG Ballard's 1973 updating of the timeless connection between sex and death brought notoriously to the screen by David "Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch" Cronenberg. James Spader and Deborah Unger star.

Adam Mars-Jones felt it fall short of expectations. "A remarkably uninvolving experience." "A cerebral film whose ambitions one respects, but whose pervasive nihilism makes it hard to like," sighed The Telegraph. "The glacial, rigidly stylised mood is so omnipresent that it grows to swamp any element of drama," frowned The Times. "Turns the story from high porn into high geometry ... For peace on our roads, better to ban alcohol. For peace on our minds, better to ban the Daily Mail," growled the FT. "Will encourage those who have a sadistic sexual bent to feel that they are not alone," thundered The Mail. "Popularising and depicting some of the grossest sexual aberrations imaginable ... A work of subversive pornography," snarled the Standard.

Cert 18, 104 mins. On selected release, excluding Westminster and parts of Surrey where it has been banned.

Required viewing for wannabe key players those on the media dinner party circuit.