Writing on Arts and Culture

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Explore my latest articles relating to arts and culture below. Click on the image to read.

Vault Festival 2023: Time | Review

“This is probably one of the weirder hours of my life,” admitted Gaynor O’Flynn as she concluded a completely off-script, off-the-cuff performance (of sorts). At least she’s self-aware. Her description echoes the writer’s sentiments exactly regarding what was not in fact Time at Vault Festival.

In its official description, Time is classed as the story of a “middle-aged female cliché”. In the original, the protagonist – played by O’Flynn – uses technology to visit friends from her past. These ch

Mike Nelson: Extinction Beckons at Hayward Gallery | Exhibition review

Extinction Beckons, the first extensive survey of works by renowned contemporary artist Mike Nelson, has taken over Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery. Bringing 25 years’ worth of Nelson’s creations together into one place is quite a feat, especially given the expansive scale of these installations. Before even entering the transformed exhibition space, viewers are warned of dim lighting and restricted room for movement at times. This is the first sign that the experience will be truly immersive

Vault Festival: All By Myself at the Vaults | Theatre review

Vault Festival: All By Myself at the Vaults | Theatre review

Set in a lockdown, All By Myself is a frank exploration of the difficulty of “living your best life” in nearly unlivable conditions. The play opens with a woman wrapped in a blanket, her back to the audience. Her only company on stage is a desk, a sink basin, a box of cereal and a few spare pieces of wire. The woman is editing a video clip of herself for a DIY YouTube channel, which is displayed on a large screen. Yet between cheery t

Strange Clay: The Wacky World of One of London’s Most Unique Art Exhibitions

Whoever was involved in the naming of the Hayward Gallery’s ‘Strange Clay’ certainly got the ‘strange’ part right. The creations on display are definitely out of the ordinary. Yet theirs is a strangeness that inspires awe and necessitates reflection. Upon entering the showcase – ranking as one of London’s most unique art exhibitions – visitors may feel as if they’re entering a parallel universe.

Cartoon-like faces carved out of pink and yellow clay peer down at passers-by from a lofty perch. A

Vault Festival: Going Deutsch at the Vaults | Theatre review

Vault Festival: Going Deutsch at the Vaults | Theatre review

Going Deutsch opens with a classic scene: a woman is waiting for her date to show up. She’s proceeding cautiously, with uncertain expectations – after all, this isn’t just a get-together: she is meeting someone from her past. She waits for their arrival, worries about whether or not they’ll show up, and regales the audience with stories of their time together. All seems fairly typical – this could be a scene from any romcom or tale of

Traces of the Wind at the Vaults | Theatre review

Traces of the Wind at the Vaults | Theatre review

Watching Traces of the Wind at the Vaults, one gets a strong sense that something beautiful is happening, but it isn’t quite clear what. This multi-sensory performance is the brainchild of Chinese interdisciplinary art group Not Set, formed of the artists Xi Chen, Jiuming Duan and Jiajing Zhao. Here, Not Set aim to delve into the links between memory, emotion and nature through the non-corporeal entity of the wind.

Taking place in The Cage as p

The Wind in the Willows at Southwark Playhouse Elephant | Theatre review

The Wind in the Willows at Southwark Playhouse Elephant | Theatre review

Upon entering the space in which The Wind in the Willows is performed at London’s newly opened Southwark Playhouse Elephant branch, a general sense of merriment dominates. One could easily mistake the set for a homey countryside pub. The performers are already in place, sitting at tables where they laugh, chat, and “drink”. A chalkboard menu displays the dishes of the day, including Toad in the Hole: a clever allusion to o

On the Ropes at Park Theatre | Theatre review

On the Ropes at Park Theatre | Theatre review

If On the Ropes wasn’t based on a true story, it would be hard to believe. This musical drama tracks the rise and tragic fall of Jamaican-British boxer Vernon “The Entertainer” Vanriel. Having lived in Tottenham since the age of six, London was all Vanriel had ever known; he gained national fame for his boxing prowess and innovative introduction of musical accompaniment to his entry into the ring; yet, at the height of his boxing success, an honest

“A messy rollercoaster that you won’t soon forget”: Actor and co-director Greg Esplin on Trainspotting Live

“A messy rollercoaster that you won’t soon forget”: Actor and co-director Greg Esplin on Trainspotting Live

Greg Esplin is a Scottish actor and co-director of Trainspotting Live, the immersive stage adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel and Danny Boyle’s iconic film. He plays tragic tritagonist Tommy in the show.

The Upcoming had a chance to meet Greg in the midst of the tour, chatting with him about the iconic status of Trainspotting in Scottish pop culture, the merits of theatre as an art form,

Hamptons International Film Festival: A Celebration of the Art of Film

Once a year along the East Coast, as the leaves are changing from green to gold, film fans from around the globe gather for the arts and culture event of the year. Celebrities bundled up in layers whirl in and out of cinemas, accompanied by a crisp breeze making its way inland off the inky Atlantic. Here is a setting so bucolic that it resembles scenes off the silver screens scattered about town. All this and more awaits attendees of the Hamptons International Film Festival , the perfect place t

Edinburgh Fringe 2022: Fata Morgana at Pleasance at EICC | Theatre review

The appellation Fata Morgana refers to the Italian term for Morgan le Fay, the medieval sorceress from Arthurian legends; it has also become a term used to describe a mirage. Thus, it is apt as the title for this show, as the entire experience feels akin to watching a mirage of sorts, created by Nico the sorceress herself.

From the moment Margherita Remotti steps onto the stage as German-born model and singer Nico, she draws viewers into a strange, hallucinogenic world. Flashing lights and chan

Edinburgh Fringe 2022: Trainspotting Live at Pleasance at EICC | Theatre review

When one enters the theatre where Trainspotting Live is performed, it feels like entering a rave: lights flash in various colours and loud music pulses through the room. The cast members beat their fists in the air and run along the stage dancing. The “stage” is a long space on the floor in the centre of the room where the bulk of the performance takes place. Audience members are given glow sticks and seated on bleacher-like benches on either side. Periodically, the performers will come among th

Edinburgh Fringe 2022: Pash at Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose | Theatre review

Max has one week until her 25th birthday; her mum keeps asking her what she would like to do, how she would like to celebrate; her best friend is planning a surprise for her. But the only thing she really wants for her birthday is to have her first kiss. Performed by Olivia McLeod, Pash is a romcom-esque show about the pressure to catch up with everyone else and the (often unrealistic) expectations of romantic love we set for ourselves.

Growing up watching films like The Sound of Music and The

Edinburgh Fringe 2022: Changing the Sheets at Assembly Rooms | Theatre review

A man and a woman take the stage, speaking to each other but looking to the audience. The man compliments the woman’s room somewhat overzealously, gawking aloud at the presence of a lava lamp; the woman responds less enthusiastically. They have met on a dating app, where the intention of sex is clear – so how much conversation is necessary? Where do they draw the line between casual hookup and truly intimate encounter? Asking these questions and more, Changing the Sheets is an incredibly funny a

Edinburgh Fringe 2022: Cirque Berserk! at Pleasance at EICC | Theatre review

Entering the theatre where Cirque Berserk! is performed is like entering an old-fashioned carnival with a modern flair. Large, lit-up letters spelling out the word “CIRCUS” draw the eyes; red and blue lights cast everything in a jewel-toned glow. Mischievous, almost fantastical music plays as the first act takes the stage – a troupe of acrobats dressed in old-world outfits reminiscent of early-20th century menswear. Combining traditional fanfare aesthetic with both customary circus performances

Edinburgh Fringe 2022: Muse at Assembly Rooms | Theatre review

After making its debut in Bogota this May, the spectacular Muse is brought to the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe by Quebecois circus company FLIP Fabrique. When the show begins, the cast members are dressed in flesh-coloured costumes, representing nakedness. When one of the women takes a bite of an apple placed on-stage, suddenly the lights turn red and the characters become aware. Clearly reminiscent of Adam and Eve’s discovery in the Garden of Eden, Muse goes on to explore a different form of “Creation

Edinburgh Fringe 2022: Circus Abyssinia – Tulu at Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows | Theatre review

Edinburgh Fringe 2022: Circus Abyssinia – Tulu at Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows | Theatre review

After their 2017 UK debut show, Ethiopian Dreams, Circus Abyssinia returns to the Edinburgh Fringe with a new repertoire of dazzling circus stunts in Tulu. The talented members of the troupe were discovered and brought together by brothers Bibi and Bichu Tesfamariam. In 2010, having mastered the art of juggling and booking successful performances around the UK, the brothers decided to spons

Edinburgh Fringe 2022: Skank at Pleasance Courtyard | Theatre review

Kate is stuck in a boring job that was only meant to be temporary; she has tinnitus in one ear that won’t stop ringing; plus, she can’t find a proper place to recycle her empty can of beans. On top of this, she cannot stop thinking about all the ways she could possibly die. Performed by Clementine Bogg-Hargroves, Skank is a story about a young woman trying to live a well-balanced life while also dealing with chronic anxiety that makes everyday living almost unbearable.

Bogg-Hargroves’ Kate is e

Edinburgh Fringe 2022: Dreams of the Small Gods at Summerhall | Theatre review

Edinburgh Fringe 2022: Dreams of the Small Gods at Summerhall | Theatre review

Dreamed up and performed by Scottish artist Zinnia Oberski, Dreams of the Small Gods is a feat of the human body and the mind. The show, which began as an assignment for Oberski’s time at the Academy for Circus and Performance Art in the Netherlands, has subsequently been developed into the 50-minute performance that is being showcased at the Fringe. As a “wild circus artist”, Oberski delivers on both the wildness an

Edinburgh Fringe 2022: In PurSUEt at Underbelly, Cowgate | Theatre review

It’s Christmastime and an unnamed woman is passed-out drunk underneath her Christmas tree. When she wakes, she is appalled to find that all of her eyelashes are missing from one eye, but she can’t recall how or when she lost them. “We’ve all been there before, haven’t we?” she asks the therapist to whom she’s been sent for help dealing with the alcohol problem she denies having. As she goes on to detail other drunken nights, Woman’s antics progress from humorous to increasingly disturbing.


Postcards at Centre Pompidou, Paris - photo taken by me