Tolstoy’s great, complex, genre-busting sprawl “War and Peace” is about many things, including Russian nationalism to the extent that when Hitler attacked the Soviet Union in 1941, Stalin reached for the work to promote a patriotic defence of the Motherland.
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Under Stewart Laing’s inspired direction, four permanently-glowing screens help to convey the bigoted characters of a charmless northern French village, where violence, shame, pride, racism and homophobia form the fabric of society.
In our blasé age, we may take for granted that a remote Yorkshire parsonage managed to produce three sisters who defied rigid Victorian convention to give voice to raw passions and sexual frustration no respectable woman was meant to feel.
A show that leaves the line “Are you fucking kidding me?” ringing in your ears and delivers a series of morals that include “don’t pressure other people into sex because it doesn’t work” and “don’t judge people by appearances, unless they’re really hot” could cause offence.
What do you do when life gives you lemons? Make lemonade is the wrong answer, says Elf Lyons, who is the product – and that’s not too economic a term – of father Gerard Lyons, former economic advisor to Boris Johnson, artist mother Annette Lyons and the Philippe Gaulier clown school on the outskirts of Paris.
The museum in Doughty Street, London, has a temporary exhibition to revisit the established view that Dickens had no truck with science, presenting the discipline not so surprisingly as an extension of his concern with social justice and reform rather than abstract theory.