Review: The Ferryman

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Ten things about The Ferryman that took my breath away*

1. The wonderful, sprawling ensemble cast, led by Paddy Considine as patriarch-of-sorts Quinn Carney. I couldn’t fault a single performance and each actor gets their own moment in the limelight, but Laura Donnelly in particular shook me to my core.

2. The child actors, of whom there are four plus a baby (yes, a real baby! Delightful!). Despite being tasked with roles with real narrative weight, the young actors had impeccable comic timing, nailed Irish accents that often outshone those of the pros, and never once became annoying. A theatrical miracle.

3. The presence of multiple live animals on stage. A script filled with livestock must strike fear into the heart of any director but man did the fluffy creatures go down well with the audience.

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Review: Hamlet

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My month in theatre has been distinctly Danish in flavour.

First, I went to the Old Vic to watch Rosencratz and Guildenstern Are Dead, starring the surprisingly dynamic pairing of Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire. It was an extremely enjoyable revival, with McGuire’s sparky wit anchored by Radcliffe’s slightly morose absurdity. Sadly I was too busy to write a full review, but consider this my positive recommendation.

Then, earlier this week, I took my seat in the back row of the Almeida for a highly-anticipated performance of Hamlet.

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Review: Volunteering at TEDxEastEnd 2017

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In January of this year I wrote a blog post laying out my intentions for the year. Or, more accurately, my intention, singular: to start looking outward.

One of the small steps to which I committed (in writing) was to volunteer at TEDxEastEnd. Well, dear readers, I’m here to tell you that I kept my word. I rocked up at Hackney Empire at 9am on 25th February and threw myself headfirst into the chaos. And it was fabulous.

There’s a particular prestige that accompanies the TED brand. In the build up to the event, whenever I mentioned my volunteering plans, the mere mention of ‘TEDx’ was followed by widening eyes, a respectful nod and, more often than not, an awed ‘Oh wow!’. To those who are less familiar with the hundreds of viral fifteen minute talks that bounce around social media, TED is a non-profit organisation committed to ‘ideas worth spreading’. While TEDx sits under the TED umbrella, TEDx events are organised entirely by independently from the main TED organisation. The idea is to create local events, with local speakers, run by local volunteers.

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Review: King Lear

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There is a history of women playing classic male Shakespearean roles; in the past few years, parts stretching from Hamlet and Julius Caesar to Prospero and Richard III have been taken on by a range of actresses at British theatres, from Maxine Peake at the Manchester Royal Exchange to Harriet Walter for the Donmar Warehouse. The part of King Lear, however, has remained almost resolutely male.

There are exceptions, of course. In 1990, an 80-year-old Marianne Hope played Lear in a production directed by Robert Wilson. Kathryn Hunter took on the role in 1997, earning mixed reviews for her portrayal. Yet, despite these notable performances, the concept is still treated as a novelty at best, and an ‘absurdity’ (as Hope herself pointed out) at worst. Glenda Jackson’s appearance in the role for Deborah Warner’s new production for the Old Vic, then, is doubly remarkable; not only is Jackson adding her name to the female Lear canon, but the production is the actress and politician’s first stage role in 25 years. As a result, Jackson’s casting has generated some serious theatrical buzz, with all eyes on her to see how she handles the quintessential older male role. As soon as Jackson strides onto the stage, however, voice cracking like a whip as she calls her daughters to order, the casting choice seems anything but absurd.

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Review: Yerma

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I recently saw Yerma at the Young Vic, directed by Simon Stone. I’m a little late with this review (the play has been running since late July and recently closed) but it had a significant impact on me, and I wanted to share my thoughts nonetheless.

As Spanish speaker, I was nervous. Lorca is notoriously difficult to translate. His texts are rich with strong imagery and cultural resonances, and the rhythm of the lines heightens the emotional intensity of the language. His plays are beautiful to read aloud in Spanish; even if you can’t understand the words, meaning is conveyed through the flow of consonants.

I needn’t have worried; watching Yerma, I was thrown straight into the world of the play. Despite being written and set in Catholic Spain in the 1930s, it felt unnervingly fresh and relevant.

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Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

As the play has now officially opened, I thought it was safe to share my thoughts on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I’ve tried to #KeepTheSecrets as much as possible, but if you’d prefer to remain 100% spoiler free, please look away now!

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As we approached the theatre, it was immediately obvious that we’d come to the right place. The queue stretching round the block was packed with beaming faces and bodies covered top-to-toe in Hogwarts paraphernalia – striped scarves in red and gold, ties in green and silver, billowing black robes, t-shirts printed with familiar quotes and even a handful of pointed hats. Then there were the accents – voices from states across America, from New Zealand, Australia, Japan. It seems there’s no ocean a Potter fan won’t cross for a fresh dose of The Boy Who Lived.

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On Bookshops

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Bookshops are my happy place.

Nothing delights me more than perusing shelves, reading title after title, pausing to select the ones that intrigue me, to examine covers and read opening sentences, feeling the weight of the stories they contain, taking a moment to appreciate the work that’s gone into each and every edition.

Bookshops are my panacea, the mysterious elixir with the power to uplift, intrigue, excite and reassure. There’s nothing like the familiar sight of rows and rows of Penguin classics to settle my anxious mind.

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Review: Richard III

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Photo by Miles Aldridge

I have never devoted much time to Shakespeare’s history plays. When given the choice between the Bard’s real and fictional kings, I instinctively opt for the latter. Yet, despite my broader reservations, Richard III has always intrigued me; the first time I read the play, his curved back, seductive rhetoric and malevolent deeds captured the darkest recesses of my imagination. Naturally, then, when the Almeida announced their prestigious new production, with Ralph Fiennes in the title role, I happily spent a lengthy period on hold with the box office, desperate to secure a ticket. Thanks to their Under 25s scheme, I got lucky.

It takes a remarkable production to make three and a half hours of classical theatre feel like half that time. Fortunately, that’s exactly what director Rupert Goold achieves here, with the help of an outstanding cast and creative team.

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