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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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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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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Arinzé Kene on writing about the London riots, starring in Arthur Miller and shaking up the West End

Published in The Independent January 25, 2019

You might have seen Arinzé Kene around last year. As an actor, he began 2018 on stage in the West End transfer of Girl from the North Country, Conor McPherson’s play featuring the songs of Bob Dylan, before cropping up on the small screen in the BBC’s thriller Informer, and in Netflix’s musical Been So Long opposite Michaela Coel.

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Review: The ABC Murders

Published in The Independent December 27, 2018

Part two of BBC1’s new Poirot mini-series confirms Sarah Phelps as a very fine adaptor of Agatha Christie: like her previous Christmastime offerings And Then There Were None and The Witness for the Prosecution, The ABC Murders is developing into a moody thriller that’s far from cosy teatime viewing. 

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Jessica Barden on Pinter and the return of ‘The End of the F***ing World’

Published in The i on November 6, 2018

The day I meet Jessica Barden, the first image at the top of her Instagram is a black and white photograph of Harold Pinter captioned “Bae. Harold.” Beneath that, young fans tell her how much they love her Netflix series The End of The F***ing World (TEOTFW). Continue reading “Jessica Barden on Pinter and the return of ‘The End of the F***ing World’”

How LSD influenced Western culture

Published in BBC Culture on October 17, 2018

When you think of LSD, a very specific aesthetic probably leaps to mind: the psychedelic pink-and-orange swirls of the 60s; naked people with flowers in their hair; the shimmer of a sitar. After its psychedelic properties were accidentally discovered in the lab by Albert Hofmann in 1943, the drug was banned in the UK in 1966. LSD is still most strongly associated with hippies who embraced its mind-expanding properties. Continue reading “How LSD influenced Western culture”

Why The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine is a trippy cult classic

Published in BBC Culture on July 25, 2018

In 1968, The Beatles got in a yellow submarine and sailed away to the sea of green – on screen at least – in an animated caper designed to fulfil their three-picture contract for United Artists, without much effort on their part. Continue reading “Why The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine is a trippy cult classic”