Freya Mavor: from Skins to stardom

Published in The i on April 11, 2017

Ten years ago, Skins sauntered onto our TV screens, spliff and vodka bottle in hand. It showed a bunch of teenagers in Bristol getting messy and messing up, but had a big heart too. The smartest move was casting unknown teenagers – but Skins alumni have gone on to conquer the West End, TV schedules and Hollywood. Continue reading “Freya Mavor: from Skins to stardom”

Black deaths in British police custody: ‘We just don’t want to talk about it’

Published in The Independent on March 27, 2017

Urbain Hayo was 14 when he first got stopped and searched by the police. When the London riots exploded in 2011, following the police shooting of Mark Duggan, he wasn’t surprised. Continue reading “Black deaths in British police custody: ‘We just don’t want to talk about it’”

Why Love Actually is not the heartwarming rom-com you’re remembering

Published in The Independent on March 22, 2017

Fourteen years after it first schmaltzed up our cinema screens, Love Actually is back. Richard Curtis has filmed a short reunion for Comic Relief. Obviously, that’s a marvellous cause and everyone please give generously to charity. But if there’s one film which does not deserved to be looked on charitably, it’s surely Love Actually. Continue reading “Why Love Actually is not the heartwarming rom-com you’re remembering”

The Boxing Day football match that got women kicked off the pitch

Published in New Statesman on March 21, 2017

On Boxing Day in 1920, a women’s football match in Liverpool attracted a crowd of 53,000, far outstripping the numbers for men’s games. The following year, the Football Association banned women from playing. Continue reading “The Boxing Day football match that got women kicked off the pitch”

Everyone’s favourite book has been turned into an incredible play

Published in Refinery29 on March 13, 2017

Few books inspire such breathless fandom as Elena Ferrante’s. Her four “Neapolitan Novels” have proved huge international hits, with over 5.5 million copies sold in over 50 countries. Despite such reach, they still have a cultish status; converts tend to press them on friends and family, to talk about the main characters Lenu and Lila as if we knew them. We get fiercely possessive – and then comes news that the books are being turned into a stage show. Can they really be brought to life, or do such characters belong safely inside our heads? Continue reading “Everyone’s favourite book has been turned into an incredible play”

Review: Twelfth Night, National Theatre

Published in What's on Stage on February 23, 2017

Simon Godwin’s production turns Malvolio into Malvolia, with Tamsin Greig playing the uptight steward. Malvolio has long been seen as the plum part in this comedy of mistaken identities, and Greig rises to the occasion fruitily. Continue reading “Review: Twelfth Night, National Theatre”

Legacy: Photographs by Vanessa Bell and Patti Smith, Dulwich Picture Gallery

Published in The Independent on February 13, 2017

Being a member of the Bloomsbury Group doesn’t always help your reputation. Now remembered as much for their tangled love lives as their experimental work, Bloomsburies can inspire a degree of hostility for their perceived snobby elitism. Certainly, it’s hard to credit the fact that the painter Vanessa Bell – sister of Virginia Woolf – has never had a major solo show till now. Continue reading “Legacy: Photographs by Vanessa Bell and Patti Smith, Dulwich Picture Gallery”

Review: The Girls, Phoenix Theatre

Published in What's on Stage on February 22, 2017

You’d have to have a heart dry as an old sunflower seed not to moved by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s musical version of The Calendar Girls. Based on the – by now very familiar – story of a Yorkshire WI group who posed for a nude calendar to raise money after the husband of one of their members, Annie, died of cancer, the musical follows the hit film and play of the story (both also by Firth). But it proves a tale that still has the capacity to raise a smile – as well as funds for Bloodwise, a cancer charity. Continue reading “Review: The Girls, Phoenix Theatre”

The women making fearless sex comedies

Published in BBC Culture on February 10, 2017

The Girls have grown up. The show’s creator Lena Dunham is now in her 30s and the sixth season of her caustic, Brooklyn-based comedy will be the last. It starts this weekend on US TV, and from the trailer it appears there’s as much hook-up angst, mad dancing, and messed-up – but deep-running – friendship as ever. Continue reading “The women making fearless sex comedies”