Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony

As part of the coverage of the Finnish Independence anniversary this year, I'll be cropping up across the BBC talking about Sibelius. The first couple of instalments are up now - the first is a clip discussing how Sibelius's theatre music relates to his wider output: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05hdg06 If 10 minutes is just too long, then... Continue Reading →

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Bob Dylan & the Nobel Prize

Bob Dylan caused controversy this week after being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In a piece for the Huffington Post, I argue that it was a good decision to give Dylan the Nobel. It acknowledges that lyrics are literature, and points towards the central role that songs can play in political discourse. The full... Continue Reading →

Strindberg & ‘The Woman Question’

My essay on Strindberg & 'The Woman Question' is now available from BBC Radio 3. I'm discussing why Strindberg got arrested for blasphemy in 1884, and what relevance that has to Swedish politics today. I also touch on why Strindberg injected morphine into Berlin fruit trees... The talk will be broadcast on Thursday 6th October... Continue Reading →

Free Thinking

My appearances for Radio 3 Free Thinking are now available to download from the BBC website. Ahead of the re-release of Peter Watkins' 1974 biography of the artist Edvard Munch, I looked at how Munch's biography relates to his art (and why Strindberg threatened to kill him). You can hear my thoughts here, or alternatively... Continue Reading →

BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinkers 2016

I'm absolutely thrilled to have been selected as one of the BBC/AHRC's New Generation Thinkers 2016. I'll be working with the BBC throughout the year to develop my research in to radio and tv programmes. More information about the scheme is available from the BBC's press release, and my first appearance as a New Generation... Continue Reading →

Review: ‘The Master & Margarita’

Review of a stage adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s ‘Master & Margarita’

The Oxford Culture Review

Adapting Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margaritafor the stage is, by any account, an ambitious undertaking. The novel is notorious for the multiplicity of interpretations it allows, simultaneously presenting satire, socio-political critique, philosophical allegory, and theological musing. Beyond this, Bulgakov’s prose is stylistically mercurial as he jumps between 1930s Moscow and Pontius Pilate’s Jerusalem, incorporating elements of magical realism along the way. Despite these obstacles, Magnolia Productions’interpretation is the latest in a whole host of dramatic adaptations, from Edward Kemp’s 2004 stage rendition to the BBC’s radio play broadcast earlier this year. It seems that there is something irresistible about the dramatic challenge of staging Bulgakov’s book.

Magnolia Productions opted for an outdoor setting, in the gardens of St John’s College. In many ways, this was an inspired choice —the uplit trees created fantastical shapes and shadows across the moonlit lawns (reminding me of the shadow puppets…

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Review: ‘Hamlet’

My review of Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet, currently playing at the Barbican theatre

The Oxford Culture Review

Benedict Cumberbatch’s appearance as Hamlet has reached unbelievable levels of hype. It has become the fastest selling play in British history, and fans have flown from overseas and queued for days outside the Barbican on the off chance of securing tickets. Critics have responded with no less hysteria than audiences, with Hamlet remaining front-page news in recent weeks. Both denounced as ‘Shakespeare for kids’ and hailed as ‘surprisingly challenging’, it seemed that this production was doomed to be subsumed by the furore that surrounded it. How could it possibly live up to the expectations placed upon it?

I needn’t have worried. The entire cast and production team rose to the challenge, delivering a Hamlet of such surprising depth and subtlety that I was too lost in the performance to consider anybody else’s opinion of it. Director Lyndsey Turner has navigated deftly through one of the most…

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