‘It’s about exploring the male and female that everyone has inside them’: on playing Salomé as a man

Published in The i on May 12, 2017

Salomé: one of the most dangerously seductive female figures ever, often considered the original femme fatale. Yet in a new production of Oscar Wilde’s 1891 play at the RSC, Salomé is to be played by a man. Continue reading “‘It’s about exploring the male and female that everyone has inside them’: on playing Salomé as a man”

‘My body shall be all yours’: the startling sex letters of Joyce, Kahlo and O’Keeffe

Published in The Guardian on May 2, 2017

“I did as you told me, you dirty little girl, and pulled myself off twice when I read your letter.” He might be celebrated for his epic and allusive novels, but James Joyce came straight to the point when writing to his partner, Nora Barnacle. This was the opening salvo of a letter from 1908 and is just one of scores of explicit missives he sent her. Continue reading “‘My body shall be all yours’: the startling sex letters of Joyce, Kahlo and O’Keeffe”

Review: The Braille Legacy, Charing Cross Theatre

Published in Time Out on April 25, 2017

The story of Louis Braille – the blind French boy who invented the braille alphabet in 1824 when he was only 15 – is an inspiring one, and musicals have certainly been based on stranger source material. And director Thom Southerland has a track record of slightly unlikely hits such as Titanic and Grey Gardens, so you’d hope for a vibrant telling. But this dire musical entirely fails to do the man justice. Continue reading “Review: The Braille Legacy, Charing Cross Theatre”

Sophie Okonedo: ‘My body is my barometer – my instincts are physical’

Published in The Observer on April 23, 2017

Sophie Okonedo was born in 1968 in London and studied at Rada. She has worked extensively across theatre, film and TV and was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda. Continue reading “Sophie Okonedo: ‘My body is my barometer – my instincts are physical’”

Review: The Philanthropist, Trafalgar Studios

Published in What's on Stage on April 21, 2017

First staged in 1970, Christopher Hampton’s comedy (an inverted reflection of Moliere’s The Misanthrope) about a mild-mannered, people-pleasing Oxford academic gets a revival stuffed with comic actors off the telly. You can see why: this groaning period piece, directed by Simon Callow, needs all the comedic help it can get. It’s not enough. Continue reading “Review: The Philanthropist, Trafalgar Studios”

Why the decline of school theatre trips is extremely worrying

Published in What's on Stage on April 14, 2017

Do you remember the first time you were taken to the theatre? If you’re reading this, the chances are, you do – and that first taste might well have been part of a school trip. But recent reports suggest such outings are increasingly endangered. Continue reading “Why the decline of school theatre trips is extremely worrying”

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’”

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”