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Strictly Speaking – Week 3

Ah, Movie Week – two words about as likely to deliver satisfaction as “Southern Rail”, “Theresa May” or “Topshop feminism”. So, it comes as little surprise (though sinking disappointment) to see couples slathered in Minions yellow or trying to jam a paso down the throat of hagiographic nonsense The Greatest Showman. And yet! A few […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 2

After the electrifying opening show, a Strictly comedown was inevitable, but even so, Week 2 was quite the slump. A combination of overambitious routines, daft concepts, erratic judging and all the nerves so happily absent last week – the latter probably due to a looming elimination – made for a show, in Steps terminology, better best […]

Stepping out

The city of New York doesn’t feel like any other part of the US I’ve visited. When you’re walking down Sixth Avenue, or jumping on to a subway at Times Square, you walk a bit quicker and hold a little more elasticity in your body; you could go anywhere and do anything. In the middle […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 1

Hello, new young people viewers to Strictly Come Dancing! Snapchat this on your Tide Pod slime, amiright? Yes, in Joe Sugg’s honour, the BBC has – I’m sorry to say – decided it must become hip to the kids of today. Please God let the try-hard shower of emojis that accompanied Joe’s dance never appear […]

Strictly Speaking – 2018 Launch Show

Marianka Swain introduces the contestants… Hello again, Strictly fans! It’s Series 16! Woohoo! Series 16, AKA the one where Marianka continually squawks “A YouTuber?” at her screen in the manner of Lady Bracknell’s “A handbag?” and feels about 102 and begins to contemplate the yawning void of mortality, and then remembers the state of the world […]

Organic gardening

The word “organic” isn’t often associated with musicals, but it exactly describes the history and content of Little Shop of Horrors, which runs until September 22 at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Created for a tiny off-Broadway stage in 1982, this show has roots in the science fiction tales of the 1930s and 1950s […]

From ballet to Broadway

I travelled to Asia for the first time this June to watch my partner perform in the production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh’s musical Cats that is currently in tour in China. My ten-day stay in Shanghai is a talking point in itself. Reading J G Ballard’s Empire of the Sun as a […]

The Sunny Side of the Street

Only Alan Bennett could set a play in the geriatric ward of an all-purpose community hospital and pack 900 seats with people dying to laugh about people dying. During the initial scenes of Allelujah!, his first play in six years, now installed at the Bridge Theatre, nearly every line drew immediate laughter. Two and a […]

How to Skin a Cat

People have been saying “There’s more than one way to skin a cat” since about 1840 but probably not in terms of making dances. Yet as Örjan Andersson’s Goldberg Variations unfolded at the Barbican several weeks ago, only that phrase allowed me to control my irritation and hang onto my objectivity. It wasn’t easy. Andersson […]

Back in town by Daniel Pratt

A huge smile probably doesn’t dawn across the face of many people on their commute into the City each morning, but that’s what happened to me one morning in late May as I descended the steps out of the mainland station at Cannon Street in London. I was home. Working for most of the year […]

Built to Last by Barbara Newman

Why does Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room always bring the house down? Why does William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated ignite cheers every time it’s performed? Neither ballet has a set or a story, which, we’re constantly informed, ballet audiences in the UK prefer to anything else. Neither comes attached to lengthy notes […]

Art and Entertainment

One way to distinguish art from entertainment is to ask yourself, Do my imagination and brain respond to this, or only my eyes and ears? If you leave a theatre happy and satisfied, you’ve been well entertained. If you go home with questions in your mind or with various interpretations of the performance competing for […]