#33 - "Opulent, decadent, ravishing, brilliant"

The Ned London

Wow, the Ned is a beauty. I spent two evenings at the opulent, decadent, 252-room hotel and club carved out of Edwin Lutyens’ Grade 1 listed, 1925 HSBC headquarters at Bank by the Soho House and Sydell Groups. On the roof (editor’s leaving do) an emerald pool steams in front of St Paul’s and huge skies: on the ground and basement floors (opening party – glam bedlam) nine restaurants in the majestic banking hall and a vault bar, vast spa and another pool vie for attention. It’s ravishing, brilliant, and causes a tiny twinge of anxiety. Are we dancing madly on the edge?

#32 - "Agreeable but lacks conviction" - The Philanthropist

Trafalgar Studios

Like the recent Dead Funny, this star-packed, should-be-surefire revival of a hit comedy ends up misfiring. Christopher Hampton’s 1969 play is of its time and wouldn’t pass the Bechdel test, with its witty literary men and tittering women smoking furiously (and unconvincingly) in Oxbridge rooms. Simon Callow’s production is fine, but tinny. Simon Bird is very funny if overinsistent as the obtuse philologist Philip, and nicely paired with his Friday Night Dinner cohort Tom Rosenthal. But Charlotte Ritchie and Matt Berry are slightly off as his caustic fiancee and bombastic rival, and MAW Lily Cole suffocates under a glutinous posh accent. Like Philip, it’s all perfectly agreeable, but lacks conviction.

#31 - "Do gallerists plan colourful exhibitions for the Spring?" - Howard Hodgkin Portraits/Eduardo Paolozzi

National Portrait Gallery/whitechapel Gallery

Do gallerists plan colourful exhibitions for the Spring? Is this a concerted effort to lift the Trump-Brexit axis of gloom? The first exhibition ever of Howard Hodgkin’s portraits at the NPG, which opened after his death, is a ravishing riot of bold blocks and sweeps of colour, so vivid as to feel almost three-dimensional. I was intrigued to see the earlier, Pop-art-ier work, and taken by the wit of the extreme abstraction: portraits indeed! The Whitechapel’s Eduardo Paolozzi show is bigger but feels less complete, tapering off with maquettes for his monumental, fractured heads. But the highlights I revisited were his postwar collages and prints, and his ravishing tapestries. Both shows lift the soul.

#30 - "Beautifully planned, engrossing" - The Japanese House: Architecture and Life After 1945

Barbican Art Gallery

Has any culture had such a substantial postwar revolution as Japan’s? This beautifully planned, engrossing exhibition shows how a wider search for a new identity post-1945 led to questions about the style, construction, function and value of housing. Architectural models are always fascinating - especially to menof the Airfix generation - but here we have films, sketches, clothing, artefacts, a country cabin and a full-size house intersecting with and interrupted by the Barbican’s unforgiving geometry. This is the latest exhibition of many to make a virtue of the gallery’s intractable space. For an example of the exact opposite, see the new Design Museum, where the confused Imagine Moscow exhibition epitomises the way the building was botched in conversion.

#29 - "An Utter Delight" - An American in Paris

Dominion Theatre

Leanne Cope is an utter delight in this glorious reinvention of the Gershwin film musical – the ballerina steals the show with her vivacity, delicacy and airy lightness. Director/choreographer Christopher Wheeldon gambled on her, and also on anchoring the film’s silly story more closely to history. These expat Americans are scarred by war, suspicion lingers in the air, and the new backstory for Cope’s Lise makes complete sense of the character’s skewed priorities and romantic naivety. These dark background notes only make the joyous ballet sequences, s’wonderful songs and bright primary colours more vivid. The French accents seem more hi-hon-hi-hon than when I saw AAIP in New York: but lucky me to have seen it twice.

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