Review: Richard III

Ralph-Fiennes Richard III

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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Exploring New York on a Budget

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New York isn’t exactly the cheapest of holiday locations. The flights alone can leave a significant dent in your wallet, and that’s before you factor in the cost of accommodation, food and transport around the city.

Whilst some of New York’s most famous sights are free (the Brooklyn Bridge, Grand Central Station and Central Park, to name a few), many of the city’s main attractions are relatively pricey. However, there are ways of seeing the best of what New York has to offer without bankrupting yourself in the process.

Here are a few of my favourite budget activities for those of you paying a summer visit to New York.

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Review: Hay Fever

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The works of infamous playwright Noel Coward seem to be firmly stuck in their time; his characters burst onto the stage in a whirl of one-liners, cigarette smoke and champagne. Yet, for all its 1920s glitz and glamour, Hay Fever deals with universal themes. If you’ve ever cringed at the actions of a parent or attempted to outdo a sibling, the events of the play will seem strangely familiar.

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Recap: Girls, Season 4, Episode 4

GIrls HBO

Girls HBO

After a Girl-less week thanks to a little-known televised event they call the Super Bowl, our favourite dysfunctional personalities are back in Episode 4.

We open on Shoshanna in a cold, bland room, being interviewed by a cold, bland woman for a job that she actually quite wants. Sadly for Shosh, she’s ‘not right for the role’, despite her passion for Chelsea Clinton. Instead of running home and burying her woes in a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream like any self-respecting job seeker, she holds her ground and asks for critique. This admirable desire to improve herself backfires somewhat when her would-be-employer reels off a long list of shortcomings: Shosh sees things in ‘too simplistic a manner’, has an ‘off-putting style’  and ‘lacks a certain sensitivity’. Ouch.

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Review: How To Hold Your Breath

How to Hold Your Breath

Photo by the Royal Court theatre

‘So what’s this about then?’ asked the friend who I’d enlisted to accompany me to the theatre. ‘Well… it’s got Maxine Peake…and I think it’s about sisters? And something to do with immigration?’

I must have read the description of the play on the Royal Court’s website five times in the week leading up to the performance. Truth was, I just couldn’t retain the information. I had absolutely no idea what the play was about.

Writing this now, I’m only marginally more confident.

At the centre of the play are two sisters, Dana and Jasmine, who live in Berlin. When the play opens, Dana has just slept with a man who may or may not be the devil and who may or may not have just cursed her for refusing payment for sex.

Somewhat predictably, it’s all downhill from there.

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