First published in The Times, Thursday August 24 2017
The Belgian company Ontroerend Goed is theatrical Marmite. Shows such as The Smile Off Your Face, in which audience members were tied up and blindfolded, and Internal, a one-to-one performance, in which participants were encouraged to reveal their most intimate secrets, tend to inspire everything from admiration to rage.
First published in The Times, Wednesday August 16 2017
Apphia Campbell, the US-born singer and actor, who is now based in Edinburgh, has spent the past four years performing and touring her acclaimed one-woman show, Black is the Color of My Voice, based on the life of the singer and civil rights activist, Nina Simone.
A contemporary of Simone’s, Assata Shakur, the prominent Black Liberation Army member, is the subject of Campbell’s latest work. Like the singer-songwriter, Shakur was drawn to revolutionary politics having grown impatient with the non-violent approach advocated by Martin Luther King. A key quote from her 1987 autobiography, describing her political awakening, might just as easily have been lifted from one of Simone’s songs: “I didn’t know what a fool they had made of me until I grew old and started to read real history.”
First published in The Times, Saturday August 15 2015
John Lennon may long have passed on to the great jam session in the sky but the demand for his music remains insatiable. And so, fresh off the back of a three-month run in New York, this music show-cum-spoken-word performance can sell out a 1,000-seat Fringe venue. And who can argue with that? After all, the appeal of a decent tribute act for audiences deprived of the original artist is an entirely understandable phenomenon of the pop age, even if it’s questionable whether Lennon, had he lived, would still be trawling monotonously through his back catalogue and dwelling on an intriguing, if well-trodden, backstory.