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”

In his centenary year, Roald Dahl is everywhere – but should kids just go back to the books?

Published in The Independent on September 1, 2016

When news broke of the death of Gene Wilder, the image that kept cropping up was of the actor as the fabulously twinkly, slightly menacing Willy Wonka. Because the 1971 musical movie of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – is burned deep into our collective conscious. Continue reading “In his centenary year, Roald Dahl is everywhere – but should kids just go back to the books?”

Breakfast at Tiffany’s: how Hollywood retold a gritty story

Published in BBC Culture on May 9, 2016

The little black dress. The pearls; the oversized sunglasses and the absurdly long cigarette holder. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – the 1961 film based on Truman Capote’s 1958 novella – has become more famous for its visual shorthands, its signifiers of New York chic and fashionable femininity, than its actual story or characters. Continue reading “Breakfast at Tiffany’s: how Hollywood retold a gritty story”

Review: A Wolf in Snakeskin Shoes, the Tricycle

Published in Time Out on October 15, 2015

Marcus Gardley’s decision to relocate Molière’s 1664 comedy Tartuffe to present-day Atlanta, Georgia seems a smart one: Tartuffe, a charlatan holy man, becomes Archbishop Tardimus Toof, a sleazy preacher who wants to make a fast buck. Archibald Organdy is the rich owner of a fried chicken company, who Toof ‘cures’ from heart cancer, inspiring a religious zeal more dangerous than his previous sickly malaise. Organdy’s family – prodigal daughter Africa, camp son Gumper, and Peaches, his lusty lover – are less impressed. Continue reading “Review: A Wolf in Snakeskin Shoes, the Tricycle”

Review: The Gap of Time, Jeanette Winterson

Published in The Independent on sunday on October 4, 2015

Ahead of next year’s 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, Hogarth Press is releasing a series of novels based on his plays. Gillian Flynn tackles Hamlet, Howard Jacobson does The Merchant of Venice, but first comes Jeanette Winterson’s “cover version” of The Winter’s Tale. Continue reading “Review: The Gap of Time, Jeanette Winterson”

From A Brave New World to 1984: why dystopian novels are invading the theatre

Published in The Independent on Sunday on June 14, 2015

“We live in a dystopia now.” So claims playwright Dawn King.

“We’re walking round with these tiny computers in our pockets: your government probably knows everything about you; your phone company definitely knows everything about you – even your calorie intake; you spread all this information everywhere you go, and yet at the same time there are boatloads of people dying to get into a country like ours …. We live in the future and the future’s kind of failed us.” Continue reading “From A Brave New World to 1984: why dystopian novels are invading the theatre”

Virginia Woolf should live on, but not because of her death

Published in The Guardian on May 27, 2015

Virginia Woolf may be famous for her death – she drowned herself in 1941 – but she is enjoying an uncommonly busy afterlife. A seemingly unending stream of novels, plays and films seek to re-animate her, fictionalising Woolf’s life – and death. And it ripples out: her wider circle, the Bloomsbury group, are also regularly brought back to life for our entertainment. Continue reading “Virginia Woolf should live on, but not because of her death”

Can Bend It Like Beckham succeed in the West End?

Published in The Independent on May 19, 2015

The scene is Old Trafford, where a young girl – playing for Manchester United – boots the ball and scores a goal. The crowd goes wild. This was the opening dream sequence of Gurinder Chadha’s much-loved 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham, about a teenage Sikh tomboy named Jess, who defies her parents to play football. Continue reading “Can Bend It Like Beckham succeed in the West End?”

Review: The Lost Child, Caryl Phillips

Published in The Independent on Sunday on May 3, 2015

The Bronte sisters wrote fiction with an exceptionally vibrant afterlife: Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and their characters still loom large, thanks to endless adaptations from prestige films to pop songs, and umpteen fictional re-writes, updatings, prequels and sequels. Continue reading “Review: The Lost Child, Caryl Phillips”