Andrea Dunbar: does the revival of interest in a working-class genius focus too much on her troubled personal life?

Published in the i May 29, 2019

Andrea Dunbar is back in Bradford – and back down the pub. After writing three scorchingly honest, brutal comedy-dramas – The Arbor, Rita Sue and Bob Too, and Shirley – about life on the Buttershaw estate in Bradford, the playwright died of a brain haemorrhage in a pub toilet in 1990 at the age of 29.

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The princess who thought she was made of glass

Published in BBC Culture May 16, 2019

A young princess in 19th-Century ringlets and a flouncy white dress creeps across the stage and eyeballs the audience warily. “I’m of a very delicate nature,” she tells us. “And it is all made far more complicated due to the fact that I have a grand piano inside me… a grand piano would be bad enough but this one happens to be made out of glass.”

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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.

Subscribers can read the full review here.

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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It’s a Theater, With Craft Beer and D.J.s Until 6 a.m.

Published in The New York Times February 3, 2019

The stage filled with women in Princess Diana masks, smashing VHS cassettes with hammers. A dancer wove her way through a bar, muttering about kittens. A figure wrapped in a filthy comforter emerged from a tent, crawling among clubbers dressed in fetish gear.

I wrote about The Yard – London’s only theater-slash-nightclub – for the New York Times. You can read the full piece here.