Afterwards

I first heard of my uncle’s death on BBC News. It was December 3, 2006. I’d turned on the TV in time to catch the end of a news report about an explosion at a fireworks factory near my hometown of Lewes, in the southeast of the UK. It had claimed … Continue Reading Afterwards

BLANK PAGE   Write the first sentence.   Re-write the first sentence.     Just write the fucking thing and promise to come back to it.           Rewrite the first sentence.         What’s my idea? Is this my idea?   Aargh – I’ve … Continue Reading

A life passes

A woman watches. Life passes her window like flickering film. Wars boom and flash, a rocket lands on the moon. People get the vote and her children get older – they go from school, to church, to jobs and then to separate lives. They turn and wave. And then they … Continue Reading A life passes

Jack and the Beanstalk

Although lively from the start, Theatre Royal Stratford East’s characteristically modern spin on this festive favourite only really kicks into gear in the second half, unfolding with a lot of audience participation but a lack of magic. All the ingredients are there in writer Paul Sirett and director Dawn Reid’s … Continue Reading Jack and the Beanstalk

The Arabian Nights

This re-imagining of One Thousand and One Nights is a fun and often lyrical testimony to the cultural richness and diversity of the Middle East, at a time when the western media focuses only on anger and extremism. But as vibrant and as hopeful about the redemptive power of the imagination as … Continue Reading The Arabian Nights

The Bodyguard

This musical based on the hit 1992 film starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner has got the stuff that you want, it’s got the thing that you need. It might even bring you to your knees (if you’re so inclined). Everything about it is targeted at breathless poster quotes. It’s … Continue Reading The Bodyguard

Ex Libris Macabre

A welcome break from the pre-packaged twinkle of the festive season, Little Jade Productions’s collection of spooky stories, poems and songs from across the world nevertheless sits awkwardly between recital and performance. There’s no doubting the quality of the pieces, which range from a Grimm Tale to a performance of … Continue Reading Ex Libris Macabre

A Christmas Carol

Returning to the Arts Theatre for a second year, Simon Callow’s one-man performance of A Christmas Carol – inspired by Charles Dickens’ popular public readings of the story – already feels like a festive ritual. It’s a well-crafted piece of seasonal cheer that warms the heart even if it doesn’t … Continue Reading A Christmas Carol

Interview: Jack Thorne

Jack Thorne is a little frustrated. At only 34, as the award-winning writer of edgy teen drama Skins, co-writer with Shane Meadows of This Is England ’86 and creator of the criminally short-lived dark fantasy series The Fades, he has accomplished an impressive amount. But when it comes to writing for the stage, he’s chafing at what … Continue Reading Interview: Jack Thorne

Murderous Music

“What have you been reading?” Award-winning American playwright Julia Jordan laughs. We’re discussing her latest project, new rock musical Murder Ballad – for which she wrote the book and lyrics, with music from indie singer-songwriter Juliana Nash – and I’ve observed that violence seem to be a preoccupation of her work. From … Continue Reading Murderous Music

Interview: Siobhan Daly

One on side of the Lion and Unicorn’s black-box theatre space, a group of actors rehearsing Titania’s first meeting with Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream are enthusiastically trying out different braying laughs for the unfortunate Mechanical-cum-ass. Performing around them, the love-struck Lysander, Demetrius, Helena and Hermia cling to each other in … Continue Reading Interview: Siobhan Daly

Boy Meets Boy

It’s the oldest story in the book: boy meets boy in 1930s England, the guy he’s jilted at the altar meddles in their relationship, confusion ensues, he ends up stripping in a Parisian nightclub before being reunited with his love for a show-stopping wedding. Gene David Kirk’s production of Bill … Continue Reading Boy Meets Boy

In Extremis

Theatre, particularly historical drama, loves traces – things mentioned in passing, buried in letters or contemporary accounts. From these meagre roots stories branch out and real lives bleed into fiction as the past becomes a stage-bound phantasmagoria of ‘what-ifs’. Neil Bartlett confronts this head-on in his recreation of Oscar Wilde’s … Continue Reading In Extremis

Golgotha

The supposed site of Christ’s crucifixion, ‘Golgotha’ translates from the Bible as ‘place of the skull’. In Nirjay Mahindru’s searingly intense new play, the river Thames is also a place of skulls, haunted by the ghosts of a buried past. Young Loretta is an unwilling immigrant in nineteenth-century London, brought … Continue Reading Golgotha