Review: ‘A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings’

My review of a fantastic adaptation of Gabriel García Márquez's short story A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings. Published in 1955, Gabriel García Márquez’s A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings imagines a village’s reaction to an old man with wings appearing in a couple’s courtyard — a man assumed to be an angel.... Continue Reading →

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Review: ‘The Intruder’ and ‘The Seven Princesses’

My review of Bialystock & Bloom's production of Maurice Maeterlinck's two early plays 'The Intruder' and 'The Seven Princesses'. Bialystock & Bloom Productions took on an ambitious project by deciding to stage a double-bill of Maurice Maeterlinck’s early plays, The Intruder and The Seven Princesses. Penned in 1891, these two plays were formative for the... Continue Reading →

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I've just had a short film released by the BBC! I am incomparably excited about this. It's available from BBC Arts - I'm talking about why we should listen to history as well as look at it, exploring Max Reinhardt's 1933 production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'.  

A year without Shakespeare?

I’ve just come back from the Sage Gateshead, where I was at Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival for my last official outing as a New Generation Thinker. It was a little different to the essays and discussion shows I’d done so far: we all had to come up with a “controversial idea” for an academic... Continue Reading →

Music Into Words

Music Into Words is a series of events set up by music bloggers and journalists to discuss the future of writing about music, whether online or off. I will be speaking at the next event, on Sunday 12 February (13:15-17:00) at Morley College in London. Alongside Katy Hamilton, Tom Hammond, Kate Romano, Adrian Ainsworth, and... Continue Reading →

Review: Tom Stoppard on text and performance

A review of Sir Tom Stoppard’s lecture as Humanitas Professor of Drama at Oxford University.

The Oxford Culture Review

How much “Shakespeare” is there in a Shakespeare play? A facetious question, perhaps. But it’s a question that is peculiarly specific to the theatre — how much of the author can one distinguish in a play text? Unlike the novel, with its possibilities for narrative stretches where the author’s “voice” can emerge, in plays the author is heard through the lens of an actor playing a character. And that’s before you take in to account the director, stage and sound design, costumes, lighting… Of course, in poetry and prose the author can also adopt masks and assume characters, but the presence of multiple voices is more acute when dealing with live events such as plays. This relationship between page and stage, and the position of the playwright’s authorial voice, provided the subject for Sir Tom Stoppard’s first lecture as the Humanitas Visiting Professor of Drama at Oxford University. With characteristic…

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Review: ‘The Rape of Lucretia’

On staging The Rape of Lucretia.

The Oxford Culture Review

Seventy years after its première at Glyndebourne, Benjamin Britten’s opera The Rape of Lucretia is still deeply unsettling. Its small cast of eight singers and thirteen musicians places very little distance between the audience and the unfolding of Lucretia’s rape and subsequent suicide onstage. And unlike operas such as Das Rheingold where the idea of rape functions symbolically, the actuality of sexual assault tempered in some way by using it as a metaphor for the violation of nature and plundering of gold, in Lucretia the rape itself is unavoidable. The act of sexual assault is written into Ronald Duncan’s libretto, with the physical and musical drama entirely revolving around the central scene between Tarquinius and Lucretia.

Added to this, Britten’s music and Duncan’s libretto are deeply problematic. There are no clear-cut villains or heroes in their setting, and the women themselves are given very little agency in comparison to…

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