It is always difficult, for unfathomable reasons, to make it to even the best of cultural events taking place in your own city. As a tourist, rushing around during a fleeting visit to the newest European cultural capital, visiting every museum in sight is merely second nature. But at home, with time on one’s hands, nothing. Perhaps it is the knowledge that museums will be there the following day, maybe offering a better student rate on Friday evenings to tempt you with. Except that on Fridays, relaxing seems to be the better idea. Or maybe going to galleries or attending concerts and plays appears to be too expensive to suit a student budget.
In London however, one cannot use these excuses, simply because there is so much on offer that should be seen and soaked up. The following suggestions may encourage you to play the tourist in your own land.
On Wednesday, Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan opened at the National Gallery. This is a unique opportunity to see for example, the two versions of 'The Virgin of the Rocks’ exhibited together, as well as several other paintings and numerous drawings. It is rare to see more than one Leonardo at a time; to see several, on loan from the greatest museums in the world, is a privilege.
Building the Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915–1935 at the Royal Academy of Arts exhibits the works of the soviet constructivists, comparing it to the buildings which were inspired by this artistic movement. Constructivism was fuelled by the Russian revolution, and reflects its powerful and passionate nature.
Another Russian suggestion: until December 30, the films of the famous Alexsandr Sokurov are currently running at the BFI Southbank, a chance to see them in succession and thus experience the growth of an artist. The BFI screens rare films on a regular basis; they even do student prices.
Contemporary art is also on offer at the hundreds of galleries around London. Places like White Cube, Gagosian or Sprueth Magers, as well as a host of smaller, less famous spaces, are generally free to the public.
The Felix Arts Curse stuck again this week as, having declined to give us tickets, the Young Vic’s production of Hamlet limped through its opening night, hampered with technical issues. Despite missed cues and an impromptu interval, Michael Sheen nevertheless came away with plaudits, bringing a deranged unpredictability and energy to the role of the Danish prince in the moments when the audience were actually in their seats.
In their continuing struggle for the title of top luvvy at the NT, Alex Jennings and Simon Russell Beale take to the stage in Collaborators, a new play based on the plight of a Russian playwrite commissioned to write a play for Stalin’s 60th birthday. With all the key ingredients of the high calibre theatre that the National Theatre prides itself on, it looks a solid show. Sadly for the masses, tickets at the minute seem are hard to get hold of as bread in pre-war Soviet Russia. If only, as in Soviet Russia, tickets find you.
In local news, Next Time I’ll Sing To You comes to the Orange Tree Theatre – watch this section next week for a review, or if you like to live dangerously, go see it before hearing our advice. The cast of Yerma can probably hardly believe their luck, as they transfer from Hull to the Gate Theatre, Notting Hill, this week in a new working of Lorca’s tragedy.
Whatever you enjoy, you’ll find it in London; just go to something - even if it's just Felix Music Night!