Theatre review: Red Ellen – Northern Stage, Newcastle

First published in The Times, Thursday April 7 2022


Ellen Wilkinson — one of the first female members of parliament — may not have the name recognition of some of her male counterparts, but her life and political career were no less eventful. As the Labour MP for Middlesbrough East from 1924-31, then Jarrow in Tyne and Wear between 1935-47, she organised and participated in the most famous of the “hunger marches” of the 1930s. She rubbed shoulders with Ernest Hemingway during the Spanish Civil War, and later served as a minister in Churchill’s wartime coalition and in the postwar Attlee government.

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Review: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – Northern Stage, Newcastle

First published in The Times, Tuesday December 8 2015

Four Stars


It is one of the most influential children’s stories of all time. Yet, when most people hear the title the image that leaps to mind is that of Judy Garland skipping down the yellow brick road in glorious Technicolor with her three dysfunctional companions in tow. It comes as something of a shock to be reminded that the ruby slippers, the Wicked Witch’s greenish complexion and even the phrase “There’s no place like home” were all inventions of the 1939 musical film version and nothing to do with L Frank Baum’s original 1900 novel.

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