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Duration: 1 hour

Kirsty Wark and guests Paul Morley, Aminatta Forna and Professor Sarah Churchwell review Kenneth Branagh's performance as Macbeth at the Manchester International Festival; Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney's documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks; the first major London exhibition of paintings by LS Lowry in over 30 years; and new comedy series from Christopher Guest and Graham Linehan. Plus, music from The xx.

  • Macbeth


    With his first Shakespeare role in 10 years Kenneth Branagh takes on the incorrigible tyrant Macbeth at the Manchester International Festival.  The production, which has also been co-directed by Branagh, takes place in a deconsecrated church, promising audiences an intimate, immersive experience, and is being touted as the hottest ticket at this year’s Manchester festival, seats having sold out in just nine minutes.  

  • The Old Woman

    The Old Woman

    Pioneering, avant-garde theatre director Robert Wilson and renowned actor Willem Dafoe return to Manchester’s International Festival after the hugely successful The Life and Death of Marina Abromovic in 2011.  This time the duo are accompanied by the dancer and actor Mikhail Baryshnikov.  This latest collaboration, The Old Woman is based on a novella by Russian surrealist writer Daniil Khams and is loosely based on the story of a writer haunted by an old woman who dies in his apartment. 

  • Lowry


    Lowry and The Painting of Modern Life at Tate Britain is the first major LS Lowry exhibition to take place in London since the artist’s death in 1976. Long overlooked by Tate, this show features the painter’s familiar industrial northern landscapes and brings together seven large panoramas from his late career for the first time. Adding further context, the exhibition shows Lowry’s work alongside paintings by leading Impressionists, arguing that Pissarro, Seurat, Van Gogh and Utrillo had an influence on Lowry.  Meanwhile the gallery that bears the artist’s name in Salford unveils a new side to the artist. Unseen Lowry features over 100 previously unseen sketches, paintings and drawings, including images of corseted women and surreal mannequins that perhaps provide insight into a darker side of his imagination.

  • We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks


    With Bradley Manning on trial in the United States and continuing uncertainty over the future of the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, a feature length documentary on the still unfolding story of WikiLeaks couldn’t be timelier. We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks is directed by the Academy Award winning filmmaker Alex Gibney and uses archive footage and interviews with those close to the organisation to chart the rise of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange from unknown computer activist to a figure of global significance. The film also explores how Manning, a disenfranchised U.S. Army Private based in Iraq came to be responsible for the biggest military leak in history. The film’s interviewees offer insights into a major conundrum of the internet age: can transparency and national security co-exist

    We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks is in cinemas now.  

  • The Son

    The Son

    Philipp Meyer’s debut novel American Rust earned him comparisons with Hemingway, Faulkner and Steinbeck. His new book The Son is an epic, exploring the history of the Lone Star State through the lives of 6 generations of one American family.  From pre-civil war to the present day, Meyer’s novel tackles the battle for land and power between the Lone Rangers and the Comanche tribes across south west America.  This is America’s troubled economic and cultural history, played out in its full, bloody glory.  The Son is a familiar narrative for anyone who has ever watched a western but Meyer resists the temptation to walk a well-trodden path and spent five years researching this heavily mythologised American history.

  • Family Tree & Count Arthur Strong


    Christopher Guest became a cult hero as Nigel Tufnel in the fictional rock group Spinal Tap and has since written and directed several mockumentaries in his signature improvisational style - including A Mighty Wind and Best In Show. Guest’s first series for TV, Family Tree follows Tom Chadwick (Chris O’Dowd) as he embarks on a search for his roots, having inherited a box of curiosities from a distant relative.  Guest’s series typically celebrates his characters’ eccentricities, with Tom’s father played by his long-time collaborator Michael McKean, and his sister played by Nina Conti, who is never seen without her puppet sidekick.   Meanwhile, the man who brought us Father Ted, The IT Crowd and Black Books, Graham Linehan, has directed and co-written the first TV series of Count Arthur Strong.  Strong – a bumbling variety act who perpetually misreads the universe around him – is the creation of Steve Delaney, who has enjoyed critical success with seven series on Radio 4.  Will the show’s TV transfer, which also stars Olivier Award-winning actor Rory Kinnear, prove just as successful?

    Family Tree begins on BBC Two on Tuesday 16th July at 10pm.  Count Arthur Strong continues on Monday evenings at 8.30pm, also on BBC Two

  • THE xx

    The xx

    The xx have made waves with their intimate, sparse music since their beginnings, and in 2010 the band won the Mercury Prize for their eponymous debut album, which was also met with widespread critical acclaim.  Their 2012 follow up Coexist – with its dancier, club-inspired sound, was released to yet more praise. The group’s intimate residency at the Manchester International Festival sold out in just minutes so if you weren’t lucky enough to bag a ticket to one of their secret gigs, we have two tracks recorded exclusively for The Review Show.


Kirsty Wark
Executive Producer
Pauline Law
Mark Crossan
Paul Morley
Aminatta Forna
Sarah Churchwell


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