Author: Sian Bayley

‘Is that your final answer?’: James Graham’s ‘Quiz’

As we begin to settle in our seats an overly-enthusiastic warm-up comic bounds on stage in a bright yellow t-shirt with a smiley face on it. He is your typical warm-up act, cracking jokes (about himself and the playwright), and forcing the audience to interact with one another by shaking hands and hi-fiving. It’s all very Butlin’s entertainment camp circa 2000. Then the lights go down for the play to begin, and the ‘warm-up’ act reappears on stage in the role of Chris Tarrant. Unbeknownst to the audience, he was an actor and the play started five minutes ago,...

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‘A not so moudy tale’: Cheek by Jowl’s ‘Pericles’

Pericles is one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays, one that would give you a particularly impressive score on the BBC quiz show, Pointless. Left out of the First Folio and described by Ben Jonson as ‘a mouldy tale,’ it has never been particularly popular with scholars or audiences. So by all accounts, Cheek by Jowl made a brave decision when they chose to produce this play, let alone select it as their first Shakespeare play to be performed in the French language. Yet, in spite of all this, the play is impassioned, engaging and surprisingly easy to follow. A real...

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A Labour of Love: In Conversation with Jennifer Kirby

Actress Jennifer Kirby has had an illustrious stage career, working with the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as performing at the Salisbury Playhouse and Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. She made her television breakthrough last year in the sixth series of Call the Midwife as east-end nurse, Valerie Dyer, and is back on our screens this Sunday for the seventh series. culturised caught up with her to find out what it’s been like starring in such a popular show. Were you scared about the fans’ reactions when you first joined Call the Midwife? First and foremost I was thrilled....

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‘In Memory of Leaves’: Bringing Humanity to Theatrical Activism

Tucked up on a boat on the Grand Union Canal near Westbourne Park station, I feel an immense sense of community with my fellow audience members. We’re packed in, physically touching, and bound together in this powerful moment of political theatre. Outside, London roars: emergency services rush past and commuters wander home from work. We are at once inhabiting a theatrical space and a public area for all to share. This a key part of Natasha Langridge’s solo play In Memory of Leaves, which follows Natasha’s life in the wake of the destruction of her home on the Wornington...

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Man Booker Prize 2017: Mike McCormack’s ‘Solar Bones’ and Contemporary Irish Modernism

Solar Bones, written by Irish writer Mike McCormack, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction this year. Having won the 2016 BGE Irish Book of the Year, and Goldsmiths Prize, it came as a bit of a surprise that the book failed to make the Booker shortlist. An exciting and experimental piece of contemporary Irish modernism written in a single meandering sentence, McCormack’s latest novel won many admirers for its beautiful description of a man’s life. Much like previous Man Booker winner, Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day (1989), and Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel...

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