Brighton Fringe Festival

•May 13, 2017 • Leave a Comment


The Brighton Fringe festival is now in full swing.  This year’s event fbrighton fringe 03-14-2017-163128-3318eatures 970 events spread across 155 venues, including theatre, comedy, cabaret, music and dance. Until 4 June. 


The White Princess

•April 27, 2017 • Leave a Comment

2_cecily_lizzie_margaret                 Awash with sword fights, family feuds and court intrigue, The White Princess follows the fortunes of the Houses of Lancaster and York, opposing sides in the War of the Roses.

After defeating Richard III at the battle of Bosworth, Henry Tudor takes the throne, and in an attempt to unite the kingdom, arranges to marry Elizabeth of York, whose family emblem is a white rose.   

The first episode, In Bed with the Enemy, managed to court controversy not for portraying rape, but by skirting around the issue. Henry, played by Jacob Collins-Levy, forces himself on his bride-to-be with the aim of discovering if she was capable of bearing an heir.

In the original book by Philippa Gregory, this is depicted as rape, but in adapting the story for film, the aim was to show Henry in a more sympathetic light, so Princess Elizabeth, played by Jodie Corner, shows initial defiance before grudgingly consenting to his brutish advances.

Elizabeth does indeed become pregnant, and asks a maid to find some mandrake root, which could be used for an abortion. Her mother Elizabeth Woodville (Essie Davis) persuades her not to harm her unborn baby, but instead takes some of the root for her own purposes.

Using her knowledge of witchcraft, she weaves a spell against her arch enemy, Lady Margaret Beaufort, the king’s mother, after learning of her plans to seek out and kill her young son, the male heir to the York name.

In a brief shift from pure historical drama to swords and sorcery, Lady’s Margaret’s sleep is disturbed with tormenting visions. This unsettling moment conjures up a real sense of threat, giving a glimpse of the emotions lurking beneath the surface as the rival families declare an uneasy truce.

In a scene worthy of Lady Macbeth, it also gives Michelle Fairley, as Lady Margaret,  a chance to get her teeth into some meatier acting, reminiscent of her role as Catelyn Stark in the first three seasons of HBO’s Game of Thrones.

This mini-series has arrived at a convenient time to fill the Spring season gap left by Game of Thrones, which won’t reach our TV screens until July. Any fans of historical fantasy fiction who are missing their fix might be prepared to give it a try, but  although this entertaining romp through an eventful period of history has its moments, it won’t be stealing GoT’s thunder, or its crown.

The White Princess is available on Starz












Last chance to see – Remembering 1916 exhibition

•April 13, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Marking the centenary of the Battles of Verdun and the Somme, the exhibition Remembering 1916 – Life on the Western Front is now in its final week, and entry is free, so this is your last chance to catch it before it closes.    

Hundreds of original items are on display, including two rare issues of The Wipers Times. This satirical newspaper, published by British soldiers to keep their spirits up while in the trenches at Ypres in Belgium, is now the subject of a West End play.

The exhibition also features reconstructions of the trenches and an Edwardian drawing room, British, French and German uniforms, equipment and weaponry, and a German light field wagon,


A specially commissioned painting by aviation artist Alex Hamilton depicts the German flying ace Manfred von Richthofen, known as the Red Baron, swooping on a British fighter plane.

In the fight which followed, Captain Tom Rees was killed and the pilot, Second Lieutenant Lionel Morris, was injured and managed to land the damaged plane, but died later that day. Morris was a pupil at Whitgift School in Croydon, Surrey, where the exhibition is being held.

A replica silver cup, engraved with the name of the British aircraft, is on display at the exhibition, along with extracts from Morris’s diary, and an original copy of the Red Baron’s autobiography.

Von Richthofen, who earned his nickname due to his aristocratic background and the distinctive red triplane he flew, mentioned the battle in his autobiography in 1917, but his triumph was short-lived as he was shot down and killed in April 1918, at the age of 25.

A display of poppies completes the exhibition, in memory of former school pupils and teachers who died during the war.

Remembering 1916 – Life on the Western Front runs until 16 April 2017 at the Whitgift Exhibition Centre, Whitgift School, Croydon. Entry to the exhibition is now free. See website for further details and opening times.





Eugene Onegin

•March 1, 2017 • Leave a Comment





Alexander Pushkin, one of Russia’s greatest poets, wrote much of his work when the era of Romantic literature was at its peak.

His novel in verse Eugene Onegin, published in 1833, follows the fortunes of a hero who could have modelled himself on the description of Lord Byron by his lover Lady Caroline Lamb: “mad, bad and dangerous to know.”

This brooding young Romantic suffers from the common malaise of his generation, feeling restless, aloof and stifled by social constraints. Yet, as a product of the very society he despises, he is never truly free from its influence.

After an argument erupts between Onegin and his friend Lensky, tempers flare and wounded pride triumphs over common sense, resulting in the needless loss of a young life. This aspect of the story is particularly poignant, foreshadowing the circumstances of Pushkin’s own death in 1837.

When French officer Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d’Anthes tried to seduce the poet’s wife Natalia, Pushkin challenged him to a duel and was fatally wounded.

While his early death cut short a brilliant career, he ranks among Russia’s foremost literary talents, alongside Tolstoy and Chekov, though his work is less accessible in translation, due to the difficulties of conveying the nuances of the narrative verse.

Fortunately, Pushkin’s story-telling is accomplished enough to overcome this minor hurdle, and the operatic score composed by Tchaikovsky in 1879 ensures that the tale of our ill-fated anti-hero is told with the most exquisite accompaniment possible.

Take me to the River

•September 9, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Totally Thames Take me to the River presents a month of river-themed events – pictured here are St Paul’s aglow for #Londonsburning, the Fire Garden at the Tate Modern and Floating Dreams, an eye-catching installation by South Korean artist Ik-Joong Kang.

Floating Dreams is made up of 500 drawings which have been transferred onto Hanji, a traditional Korean rice paper, and transformed into a single work of art. Illuminated from inside, the lantern structure records memories from the time of the Korean War of 1950-53, and serves as a beacon of hope for the reunification of North and South Korea.



We Are Not Alone

•August 25, 2016 • Leave a Comment



How would you react to an alien encounter? Host a welcome party, or run for cover? That’s the question posed by “We Are Not Alone” at the Camden Fringe Festival.

This event aims to prepare citizens for the imminent arrival of beings from outer space, in a session lead by two experts with differing views – astrobiologist Dr Alex Parker, who is fascinated by new life forms, and military specialist Captain Reynolds, who is on the look-out for signs of any possible threat to civilisation as we know it.

The workshop features two knitted finger puppets, which look perfectly harmless. If alien creatures this tiny turn up on our turf, we should have little to worry about. (Unless they’re like Star Trek tribbles, multiplying at warp speed, or shapeshifters.)

It seems highly unlikely that we are alone in the universe, and it would be incredibly arrogant and short-sighted to assume that humans are the only life form in existence to have populated a planet and made it their own.

We’ve only taken the first small step in space exploration, so any aliens who manage to reach earth must surely have technology far superior to ours. Hopefully such advanced beings would have evolved to the extent that they shun violence, and their mission to earth would be a peaceful one.

On the tricky question of how to react to an alien encounter, here’s my three-point plan. First, make a rapid assessment of the situation. Trust your instincts. Do these life forms appear threatening or benign? Check out their dress and demeanour. Are they wearing helmets and body armour, or loose, flowing robes? Any weapons, visible or concealed?  If in doubt, familiarise yourself with the nearest exit.

Then, if they seem friendly, try a simple greeting, such as hands clasped together, a gentle nod and a smile. If they mirror your actions, all well and good.

Finally, if you feel comfortable enough to open the channels for verbal communication, you could start by chanting a simple mantra. The most widely recognised one is probably Om. Keep an open mind, as they are unlikely to speak our language, but might communicate telepathically.

It’s probably best to avoid waving. You might see it as a friendly “Hello!” but in the animal kingdom, a similar gesture can mean: “This is my territory – keep your distance!” Some earthlings might well feel that way about unexpected guests, but perhaps they’re just visiting, rather than here to take over our planet, and when they see what we’ve done to it, they might just turn around and head for home.

We Are Not Alone is showing at 6pm on 27 and 28 August at The Camden Fringe




The Camden Fringe

•August 3, 2016 • Leave a Comment


The Camden Fringe returns this month with over 250 different productions showing at 25 venues, presenting a mixed bag of events including opera and musical theatre, poetry, comedy, cabaret and a film screening. The full line-up of events is now available to view and book online