First published in The Times, Wednesday August 7 2019
The demand for true crime has never been greater. Television schedules are saturated with documentaries based on real-life murder cases, from The Staircase to Making a Murderer, while blockbuster podcasts such as Serial and Dirty John have bequeathed the genre to an ardent younger audience.
First published in The Times, Thursday August 17 2017
Roll up, roll up – the circus is back in town. The music as we enter the big top may be full of fanfare, but an air of melancholy pervades the atmosphere backstage. Having dragged his uncomprehending charges around the states of 1930s Dustbowl America for more years than he cares to remember, trainer Francis (played by Jesse Rutherford) is dejected, lonely, spent. He longs for one final perfect routine from his performing chimpanzee (Lucy Roslyn).
First published in The Times, Tuesday August 8 2017
Jacob Bronowski’s The Ascent of Man was a landmark television series of the 1970s, which explored the development of human society through our relationship to science. The accompanying book rivalled Delia Smith’s How to Cheat at Cooking for its ubiquity on the shelves of British households.
First published in The Times, Wednesday August 31 2016
Be warned: there is a lot of padding in this show and we’re not just talking about the stuffing in our hosts’ underwear. The tacky love child of Paul Daniels and Magic Mike opens with the two buff Aussies launching a giant inflatable phallus into the front row and asking that we bounce it around the auditorium until the music stops and the first audience participant is chosen.
First published in The Times, Saturday August 29 2015
It is nearly 30 years since the Reduced Shakespeare Company first brought their Complete Worksof William Shakespeare (Abridged) to the Edinburgh Fringe. These days you can’t move at the world’s biggest arts festival for 60-minute parodies of everything from Hamlet to Breaking Bad, but the original vintage is still the best – as this enjoyable musical comedy, written and directed by Adam Long, one of the founding members of the RSC, attests.
First published in The Times, Friday August 21 2015
The new play from Philip Ridley is billed as a companion piece to Dark Vanilla Jungle, the artist and writer’s 2013 Edinburgh Fringe premiere about the sexual grooming of a teenage girl by a couple of older men. This new monologue is just as unsettling, the theatrical equivalent of a slow-motion car crash. Like Dark Vanilla Jungle, which featured the brilliant Gemma Whelan, the stomach-churning tension of Ridley’s latest work is given the required humanity by Sean Michael Verey in the title role.