London’s Victoria and Albert museum has played host to some of the greatest fashion exhibitions of the past decade; from 2013’s David Bowie (which sold 311,956 tickets), The Hollywood Costume show in 2012 (251,738 tickets) and, of course, Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty expo that raked in half a million visitors.
“Wow, that’s brilliant,” exclaims a tourist, cooing over my boyfriend’s easel, as we stand side-by-side painting the view outside’s Mayfair’s Connaught hotel. Who knew that a five-star art course would be the activity that pushed my previously happy relationship to the brink? In contrast, Terence, my beloved, spent his teens mooning moodily about an art room, and has been known to whip out a sketch pad while on hols.
For centuries, humanity has relied on the science community to tell the objective truth about the world around us. In her new book, Inferior, science journalist Angela Saini paints a disturbing picture of just how deeply sexist notions have been woven into the fabric of scientific research – and how they are still being perpetuated within the science community today. Armed with a heavy arsenal of data, Saini provides a gripping and much-needed account of how even the most impartial fields of scientific study have for centuries fallen prey to the biases of the patriarchal foundations they have been built upon.
Megan Hunter’s debut, The End We Start From, begins with a woman in labour growling like an “unpredictable animal” as her waters break, “the pool of myself spreading slowly past my toes”. Mother nature acting in solidarity, “unprecedented” floodwaters – the result of an unexplained environmental crisis – submerge the British capital: “London. Hunter’s strange and haunting novella-cum-prose poem – it’s composed of short, staccato paragraphs of narrative interspersed with extracts from creation myths – charts the first year of Z’s life through his mother’s eyes.
Feria de Londres takes place from 27th-28th May at Potters Fields Park, London. Field Day takes place on Saturday 3rd June in Victoria Park, east London. This, coupled with the festival's unorthodox location – Brighton City Airport – makes it an experience you're unlikely to forget in a hurry.
If you haven’t heard about Convicted, then let us tell you: it’s what the group on the next table in the pub are debating, it’s what everyone on the bus is listening to, it’s the podcast that went straight to the top of the iTunes chart in its first week. After its success (it’s now holding steady at number two), people inevitably started calling Convicted the "new Serial " – the addictive season one broke podcast records (it’s been downloaded over 80 million times) and resulted in its subject, Adnan Syed, being able to appeal for a retrial on his conviction for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. The subject of her podcast is Richard Nicolas, who's been in prison since 1996 and therefore has never used the internet or heard a podcast.
According to Hokusai (1760-1849), nothing he drew until he reached the age of 70 was worthy of notice. Then came a commission to create a series of thirty-six views of Mount Fuji, one of which, The Great Wave is his single most instantly recognisable achievement, and the work after which this show is named. The show itself, exhibited in the lightless upstairs exhibition space carved out of the old Reading Room of the British Museum, is the Hokusai story from start to finish, and for once this hot, unattractive, twisty-turny environment feels well managed.
Gavin Lind is a brave comedian. Lind has been on the receiving end of some pretty spectacular heckling in the past, so it’ll take a lot for this audience to top that, he says. Perhaps the most extraordinary heckle of all was last year at his Edinburgh Fringe show, when one woman gave the audience the middle finger while walking across the front of the stage, before calling him a misogynist and saying, “I’m glad you're f***ing gay”.
Ross Ericson was roused to pen and perform this powerful, personal and affecting one-man play by his anger at a 2014 Daily Mail article by Michael Gove decrying unpatriotic “left-wing academics” peddling “myths” about the First World War. Ironically, Gove may not entirely disapprove of the outcome of Ericson’s ire, should he deign to watch it, for while patriotism may not be much to the fore in this compelling one-hour production, honour – quiet, unassuming, everyman honour – shines through.
The Young Vic’s auditorium has been reconfigured as a sort of planetarium for this highly compelling revival, directed by Joe Wright, of Brecht’s play about the conflict between free inquiry and official ideology and about the ethical responsibility of the scientist. A sense of dislocation – a playing around with centre and periphery – is apt for a piece about a scientist who confirmed Copernicus’s heliocentric theories and demoted the earth from it supposedly starring role in the universe, incurring the wrath of the Catholic Church. The set-up here allows the production to achieve both a bracing informality (at the start of both halves, the actors mix freely with the public to the pounding music of Tom Rowlands of The Chemical Brothers and a very unforced handling of the alienation devices whereby it reminds us that we are watching a construction designed to make us think rather an emotionally indulgent slice of life.
“You can trace back the all-male norm right go back to ancient Greece and then into Shakespeare’s time,” the theatre director George Mann tells me. Mann’s Medea, is the latest bold new production taking the British theatre scene by storm by utilising an all-female cast at Bristol Old Vic. Director Phyllida Lloyd spoke of some audience members being “quite condescending” and “outraged at the audacity” of the “unashamed feminist mission” of her all-female Julius Caesar, the first of her now considered landscape-altering Shakespeare Trilogy at Donmar King’s Cross, which also include Henry IV and The Tempest.
It's September 2003 and Rory Stewart, a thirty year old former British diplomat (now an MP), finds himself posted to serve as the governor of the Maysan province in the south of the newly liberated Iraq. In an Evelyn Waugh novel, Stewart would have been elevated to this position through a farcical case of mistaken identity and turn out to be constitutionally unsuited to the role. When Iraq was invaded, he submitted his CV and – on receiving no reply – struck out for Baghdad to search for a job on the spot.
The audience meets the Shaun-Hastings couple in their home, an artist and Member of the Canadian Parliament respectively. Said tormentor, Curtis (David Leopold), seems so ordinary, like any other teenager, and it's this lack of monstrosity which sends Debora (Lucy Robinson) over the edge. Despite the idea behind their structured handling of grief (they share photographs, school awards, and two horribly juxtaposed letters, written by Debora and Curtis respectively), all are there under false pretences.
The man everybody expected to be come a champion boxer has lost his killer instinct. Hope Theatre Company has for the past decade been presenting work that promotes equality and celebrates diversity. A bigger clue was that the previous play, Away From Home, by this writer/actor Rob Ward was about a rent boy and a gay Premiership footballer.
Betroffenheit is an overwhelming theatrical experience, a stark exploration of grief and addiction. Created by Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young, this dance-theatre hybrid is raw, funny and profoundly, tenderly human. Young wrote and stars in the production, directed and choreographed by Pite.
“There is something timeless, terrifying and marvellous about Carousel,” observes Ethan Mordden in his fine programme note for Lonny Price's rather ravishing semi-staged revival of this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic – a show that kicks off the third season of musicals co-produced by English National Opera and the GradeLinnit company. Aficionados of the form tend to agree with Rodgers that nothing surpasses this score, premiered in 1945, in the R&H canon for sheer beauty. There is controversy, though, in Hammerstein's book, which gives a New England setting to the dark saturnine Hungarian play Liliom, whose protagonist, a fairground barker, beats his wife, dies in a failed robbery, burns in hell for 16 years and then screws up his one chance of salvation when granted a day back on earth.
Head to the capital for a cracking Easter bank holiday, with plenty of free events for the whole family to enjoy.
The two champagne-flute-chiming couples at the centre of Nina Raione’s new play Consent are high-flying lawyers who would be happier trying to converse in one of the African clicking languages than doff their mock-jaded irony around even the most basic human watersheds, such as wetting a new baby's head.
In Diamonds, Marianela Nuñez has a glow that goes beyond glitter. Fifty years old this year, Jewels was designed as a company showcase for Balanchine's own New York City Ballet: three contrasting ballets, with plenty of solo roles and chances to shine. Rubies, to jazzy Stravinsky, is all New York pizazz, while Diamonds looks back to Tchaikovsky and the imperial classicism of St Petersburg, where the choreographer trained before coming to the west.
Pina Bausch’s Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) is terrifying. It’s a coup for English National Ballet to acquire this production, another sign of artistic director Tamara Rojo’s ambitions for the company. Created in 1975 for Bausch’s own dancers, this Sacre has been danced by only one other ballet company, the Paris Opéra.