THE FORBIDDEN – A REVIEW

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I’m lucky in that I have lots of creative friends. I’m lucky in that I live in London and get to see them perform in creative spaces. But most importantly, I am lucky in that I have friends with very real talent who are a pleasure to watch.

Last night served as the perfect reminder of this.

Catherine, my oldest and dearest friend, was in a play called The Forbidden at The Canvas Cafe just off Brick Lane. The venue was a dreamboat made from delicious wines, intimate spaces and beautiful people. The piece itself topped all that.

Fiercely dark yet vastly comical, it left me worried that I was feeling nostalgic. Was I that evil as a teenager? Might I have been so easily swayed? Manipulative? Manipulated? With references to gossip in Science class at school, Abs from Five and a very real focus on every teenager’s obsession with sex and virginity, this piece absolutely left me wanting more. I don’t want to say too much because I think it’s best to enjoy it without any knowledge of the plot – me being the disorganised one of the group hadn’t a clue what it was going to be about and I think I was better off for it – so I won’t ruin it, but I will say go and see it.

If you’re of a certain age, you’ll understand the dread that your teenage years will come back to haunt you one day in the form of a forgotten about disposable camera, dug up from your bedroom drawer. You know that it will expose your poor judgment in spotty, fourteen year old boys and a badly cut fringe.

In The Forbidden however, a disposable camera brings back memories of something a little more sinister than blue mascara and a penchant for Tamagotchis.

Haunting. And the perfect date for Halloween week. Book tickets for Monday here.

THE SUNDAY PAPERS

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So you’ve made it to the end of the week. Well done. Here are some interesting reads, from the past 7 days, for you to enjoy.

If you love love.

Why man buns might not be so hot right now.

Twenty something virgin?

Photographs of yesteryear.

I’m not lonely, I’m single.

How to be brave.

A weepy one.

Industrial Farming.

Freezing Eggs and Mr Right Now.

Was carnival fun this year?

Depression.

A thought on religion.

A must see.

Have a good one.

X

AN OPEN LETTER TO NICKY MORGAN – A GUEST POST

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Dear Nicky,

I hear you have warned young people that choosing to study arts subjects could “hold them back for the rest of their lives.”

Just for clarity, ‘art’ is defined as: “expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, producing works to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power.”

The Education Secretary is telling children to shut down their imaginations- well isn’t that just dandy. Apparently “those who study maths to A-level will earn 10% more over their lifetime.” Realistically, people who study maths to A-level will probably earn more like 90% more than I will in my lifetime. And you know what? I honestly could not care less.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have a full appreciation for scientific and mathematical subjects- they have an incredibly high value within society. Each day, groundbreaking medical and technological advances are made that change people’s lives. Which is brilliant. But the arts are just as important.

People escape the pressure of their working life by losing themselves in creativity on a daily basis. They allow the literary meanderings of Faulks or McEwan or E L James, to transcend the cramped isolation of the underground. They place their headphones on and have the inane murmurings of Taylor Swift blare away their troubles. Millions upon millions of people escape in to the world of Westeros or Litchfield prison; they immerse themselves in stories of meth producers or singing high school kids, or even simply six chums, relaxing in their local coffeehouse. They see pieces of art and design, which are at the foundation of our cultural identity and make them feel something. The most famous Briton isn’t a mathematician or a scientist; sorry to burst that bubble, but the poor sod just wrote a few plays and some poems. Thankfully you weren’t around back then to try and stick a pin in his creative balloon.

And you’re not sticking one in mine, either.

So I have cobbled together the words of those who made the decision to pursue a passion that would “hold them back for the rest of their lives”, to present my point far more aptly than I can:

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that

nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

We are told that one must be careful of books, and what’s inside them, for words have the power to change us.

History is a nightmare from which we are trying to awake.

Do I dare disturb the universe?

But I remember one thing: it wasn’t me that started acting deaf; it was people that first started acting like I was too dumb to hear or see or say anything at all.

Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in the face of certain defeat.

Nicky, my dear,

You cast a shadow on something wherever you stand, so choose a place where you won’t do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth.

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.

We will not be led into the heart of an immense darkness;

Afterall, we are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams.

The curves of our lips rewrite history.

 We owe it to the young people of the future. Young people like

Matilda, whose strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.

They are not alone. You will not suppress the imaginations of future generations of Matildas and Harrys everywhere, because you view arts and humanities as ‘soft subjects’. So here I am setting up an artistic version of Dumbledore’s Army (couldn’t help myself), to ensure that the fire of creativity will continue to burn long in the imaginations of our young people and not be snuffed out by these dementorish measures.

I’m an actor, pursuing my creative ambition. So no, I am not going to go out and get a ‘real job’. I already have one.

Yours creatively,

Liam

Written by Liam Steward-George.

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Actor, writer, bold pant wearer.

LUNA GALE

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Last night, I headed over to Swiss Cottage to check out Luna Gale at The Hampstead Theatre.

The venue itself was gorgeous, with the perfect patio for summer nights. I was welcomed warmly by the staff who handed me my tickets and invited me to enjoy a drink during the interval. A lovely setting. But more about the show.

As someone who has worked first hand with children who have been taken into foster care, I had assumed that this show would grip me from the start. Sadly, it didn’t. Until the closing scene of the first act which made the audience gasp as the lights went down. But even the anticipation of the next act was short lived.

I must admit that I did fall in love with one of the characters though… Luna’s dad, Peter. He was so honest and, more importantly, I believed in his character. But feeling empathy for only one of seven characters in a play about child abuse, neglect and foster care? It just didn’t seem good enough.

The plot was okay, although somewhat predictable. And I found that the intricacies of it were lost on a 26 year old London girl. Set in Iowa and relying heavily on ridiculing the ‘crazy Christians’ of America, I couldn’t help feeling uncomfortable because – unlike The Book of Mormon – these references seemed irrelevant to the story. It felt like mocking for mocking’s sake.

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Despite my own afflictions with the show, I have to admit that the rest of the audience seemed to enjoy it and the actors received a rapturous applause at the end.

I, however, was glad to see the back of The Hampstead Theatre on this occasion. Luna Gale simply wasn’t for me, although I do love a bit of Sharon Small. But then again, who doesn’t?

To the trains.

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THE GLOBE

_JWA0574Set your teeth on edge. Heart of gold. Fair play. Foul play. And love is blind. There are so many Shakespeare-isms that we use on a daily basis that we aren’t even aware stem from the immortal dictionary of the big man himself. You might know him as Bill, The Bard, or just William Shakespeare. Either way, I guarantee you will have used his fumbly bumbly, outdated words to express yourself in times of love, anger or loss, regardless of your feelings towards men in tights. And the fact that it’s 2015.

Having both studied and taught English Literature, I thought I knew each of his works like the back of my hand. But when I was invited to The Globe for an evening spent in the yard watching King John, I realised that this was one of the few that I’d left unturned. As it turns out, it’s pretty great. No surprises there then.

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For only £5 a yard ticket, I’d really recommend heading down here on a Summer’s evening. I stress Summer at this point as the theatre is open-air, meaning that if it rains, you get wet. Really wet. Luckily for me, I went during our recent heatwave and the evening breeze – along with a glass of wine (and a very large Pimms) – made for a perfect night.

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As the evening wore on, I couldn’t help but wonder why I’d heard so little about a play that’s both so tragic and hilarious. It must be void of one of his cracking one liners, I thought. And that’s when it happened:

‘Fight fire with fire’ he said.

My ears pricked up. Of course, yet another one to add to the list.

Check out the full schedule here. This Summer Season is their best yet.