Ian McKellen is the world’s oldest Hamlet. But did Shakespeare ever want his stars to act their age?

Published in The i July 20, 2021

It is 50 years since Ian McKellen last played Hamlet – a stretch of time itself greater than the age of most actors who play Shakespeare’s “sweet prince”. At 82, Sir Ian makes history as the oldest actor to have a stab at the part, in an age-blind production by Sean Mathias at the Theatre Royal Windsor.

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Review: Nora: A Doll’s House, Young Vic

Published in The Observer February 16, 2020

It’s often said that Nora’s slam of the door as she walks out on her husband and children at the end of A Doll’s House has echoed down the centuries. In Stef Smith’s smart new version of Ibsen’s 1879 play, her story certainly reverberates: Smith reimagines Nora in 1918, in 1968, and in 2018.

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Review: Strange Hotel, Eimear McBride

Published in The Observer January 28, 2020

If you’ve read so much as a sentence of Eimear McBride’s writing, it is likely to have burned into your brain. Her first two novels, A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing and The Lesser Bohemians, were both written with a ferocious immediacy, in hurtling, viscerally direct prose that captures pre-verbal thought processes “far back in the mind”, as McBride put it.

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Review: Martin Creed’s Words and Music, EIF

Published in Fest on August 7, 2017

Artist Martin Creed’s show defies easy categorisation. He shares some thoughts, from the problem with trousers to the inadequacies of language to explanations of his sculptures. He plays some songs: some illustrate his musings, some are aural non-sequiturs. Continue reading “Review: Martin Creed’s Words and Music, EIF”

Ivo van Hove on working with David Bowie and tearing up Shakespeare

Published in The i on April 20, 2016

When Belgian director Ivo van Hove last brought a Shakespeare production to London, he warned his actors: “We are now going into the cage of the lions. We are going perhaps to be devoured – or we tame them.” Continue reading “Ivo van Hove on working with David Bowie and tearing up Shakespeare”

Grey Gardens: how a hit musical adapts the cult 1975 documentary

Published in The Independent on Sunday on January 3, 2016

“If there’s anything worse than a staunch woman … S-T-A-U-N-C-H – there’s nothing worse, I’m telling you. They don’t weaken. No matter what. ” So said “Little Edie” Beale in the 1975 documentary Grey Gardens – but generations of viewers have not agreed with her, taking this staunch woman fully to their hearts. So much so that it spawned a hit musical. Continue reading “Grey Gardens: how a hit musical adapts the cult 1975 documentary”