Prospect Recommends: July 2014

Five things to do this month
June 18, 2014

Tate Modern’s Kazimir Malevich exhibition is on show from 16th July.



On release from 11th July

Extended film shoots are rare these days. Twelve years must be some kind of record. Writer-director Richard Linklater undertook an experiment (and gamble) in 2002 when he cast seven-year-old Ellar Coltrane as Mason Jr, the son of an estranged couple played by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. Over the years, these three (together with Linklater’s own daughter, Lorelei, as Mason’s sister) and assorted others made a short film each year. Together they form the 163 minutes of Boyhood.

Linklater struck lucky. Coltrane breathes the role, only briefly appearing self-conscious around adolescence (and that’s hardly unnatural). Around the principals, minor characters develop or fade out. There’s no formal marking of the passing of time, the film simply grows up, somehow avoiding soap or melodrama. Its power lies in the unexpected moments that mark true rites of passage.

Linklater’s work with Hawke and Julie Delpy on the Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight series established his interest in time-lapse filmmaking. Boyhood (which won the Silver Bear at Berlin for best directing) represents a new maturity—not just for his work but for filmmaking itself.

Francine Stock



National Theatre, from 14th July

Ben Power, who has written a “new version” of the 5th century BC tragedy by Euripides, describes it as “the ultimate divorce play.” But Medea is also the ultimate revenge play, involving jealousy, rejection and unspeakable acts of infanticide.

Power will follow recent examples—notably Mike Bartlett’s, in which King Aegeus of Athens was a suburban neighbour—of using a contemporary setting for his adaptation. How will Power incorporate the chorus (if at all)? And what to do about the poisoned robes and the dragon-drawn chariot of the Sun God?

Power, who is an associate director at the National, started out working on projects like John Milton’s Paradise Lost and with the Chapman brothers on Christopher Marlowe’s Dr Faustus. He has become adept at re-thinking classics without losing their historical impact. Medea, too, will be a collaboration: with director Carrie Cracknell and designer Tom Scutt, both rising stars, and Helen McCrory, an outstanding actress whose vocal and physical power should make this a performance to remember in the National Theatre’s large Olivier auditorium.

Michael Coveney


Cheltenham Music Festival

From 2nd to 13th July

It’s that time of year again. Every summer, from Edinburgh to Eastbourne, the Orkneys (yes, really) to Oxford, you’ll find classical festivals spring up out of nowhere. One of the very best is the Cheltenham Music Festival. Held annually since 1945, the festival lands in that late-June/early-July sweet spot when the town’s Regency facades, boulevards and parks are looking at their elegant best. But the 2014 programme is enough to tempt anyone indoors.

Violinist Nicola Benedetti sets up camp as this year’s artist in residence, performing both concerto and chamber repertoire ranging from Mozart to Shostakovich in four different concerts. And fellow BBC Young Musician alumnus Benjamin Grosvenor gives a recital of Romantic piano music that’s bound to be a sell-out.

BBC Proms favourite the John Wilson Orchestra make their festival debut, doing what they do best in a programme of classic Frank Sinatra arrangements. But if the bright lights of Broadway aren’t to your taste, there is also a rare reprise of the musical partnership between saxophonist

Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble and a candlelit musical tribute to John Tavener in the atmospheric immensity of Gloucester Cathedral.

Alexandra Coghlan



Tate Modern, from 16th July

In December 1915, with Russia’s soldiers dying in thousands on the Eastern Front, and the nation on the brink of cataclysmic political upheaval, the Ukrainian born artist Kazimir Malevich (1879-1935) exhibited 39 paintings in Petrograd. Among them was his Black Quadrilateral, one of the most famous paintings in modern art. With this black square, he said, “I transformed myself in the zero of form... I destroyed the ring of the horizon and escaped from the circle of things…” In one step Malevich had broken painting’s contract with representation, creating a radical alternative pictorial vocabulary from pure geometry, colour and form.

It was a revolution in art which was eventually suppressed by the political revolution it heralded. By the 1930s, Malevich had tactfully reverted to painting human figures. This exhibition, the first major Malevich survey for 20 years, opened first at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Where the Stedelijk shone light on Malevich’s place within a volatile Russian avant-garde, Tate emphasises the thoroughgoing radicalism of his art—which he called “Suprematism” to emphasise its superiority over previous works—and its lasting impact.

Emma Crichton-Miller


Moses und Aron

Royal Opera House, 25th to 26th July

One should always be wary of unfinished works labelled as masterpieces. In the case of Arnold Schoenberg’s opera Moses und Aron, wariness dissolves upon first hearing. Adapted from the Book of Exodus and created in response to the anti-Semitism he experienced in Mattsee near Salzburg, it was developed first as a play in 1927, evolving into an oratorio before the opera began to take form between 1930 and 1932. Even though he failed to complete the third act, the work is Schoenberg’s longest 12-tone composition and modernism’s most revolutionary opera.

This Welsh National Opera (WNO) production, co-directed by the Oper Stuttgart duo Sergio Morabito and Jossi Wieler, will be the first production seen in the UK since 1976. Although the opera was completed (with the estate’s permission) by Hungarian composer Zoltan Kocsis in 2009, this version is unadulterated Schoenberg, focusing on the first two acts. Vocally and physically demanding for the performers and undeniably challenging for the audience, it is not for the faint of heart or head, but it marks an admirable start to the three-year partnership between WNO and the Royal Opera House.

Neil Norman