Review: The Punchdrunk Encylopaedia by Josephine Machon

Published in The TLS April 16, 2019

It’s no exaggeration to claim that Felix Barrett’s theatre company Punchdrunk has changed British theatre. Founded in 2000, Punchdrunk pioneered, and came to define, immersive theatre: where members of an audience roam around a found space itself rich in atmosphere and meaning, with non-linear narrative conveyed through dance, sound, lighting, audience interaction and hyper- detailed, installation-style design. The company created a version of small-town America inspired by David Lynch and Edward Hopper inside an abandoned Wapping warehouse for Faust (2006), and built a forest inside a vast disused factory in south London for The Firebird Ball (2005). Josephine Machon’s encyclopedia, including substantial contributions from many Punchdrunk key players, is a thorough account of the company’s eighteen-year history – though a few developments are skirted over in this fascinating, and at times irksome, guide to their practice.

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Review: The Parisian by Isabella Hammad

Published by The Independent April 12, 2019

You could call Isabella Hammad’s 550-page novel a sprawling, sweeping historical epic. It does chart a turbulent period of Palestinian history, from the end of the Ottoman empire and the First World War, through British rule and mass immigration of Jews as the Second World War looms.

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Catastrophe and Fleabag have caught on to the comedic potential of the Quaker meeting

Published in the i March 29, 2019

Heard the one about the Quaker? Probably not. After all, the thing Quakers are famous for is being quiet (oh, and oats – but don’t get me started on that marketing lie). The Religious Society of Friends, to give them their fuller name, worship in silence – sitting together in a kind of collective spiritual contemplation – and this unshowy form of faith hasn’t exactly provided many punchlines.

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Siri Hustvedt: ‘There is a morbid belief that women lack imagination’

Published in the i March 22, 2019

Siri Hustvedt’s new novel, Memories of the Future, has a narrator named SH. At the age of 61, she rediscovers a diary she wrote when she was 23, as well as her first attempt at a novel. The older narrator looks back on her first year living in New York with an eye that is both wry and beady, peering into the gaps between her records and her memories.

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Review: Emilia, Vaudeville Theatre

Published in Time Out March 22, 2019

Transferring from the Globe, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s play about the seventeenth-century poet Emilia Bassano Lanier has already been widely heralded as ‘rousing’ – and it certainly is that. It rouses the audience right to their feet. They whoop and cheer the barnstorming feminist speeches, and literally boo the bad oppressive men.

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Review: Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Published in The Independent on March 1, 2019

Marlon James won the Booker for A Brief History of Seven Killings, his bestselling novel about the attempted assassination of Bob Marley. Who knows what the judges will make of this gleeful and wholehearted leap into genre fiction: Black Leopard, Red Wolf is a vivid, bloody fantasy epic, playing out over more than 600 pages, complete with the sort of maps Tolkien would be proud of.

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Derry Girl Saoirse-Monica Jackson: ‘Yes, we have a harsh sense of humour’

Published in The Observer March 17, 2019

In Derry, Saoirse-Monica Jackson’s face is painted across a wall, several metres high, alongside the four other lead cast members of Derry Girls. The mural was unveiled earlier this year to celebrate the second season of the Channel 4 hit comedy, and has been warmly received by residents of the Northern Irish city.

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