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Alice Saville

Alice Saville

Articles (26)

The best UK festivals of 2022

The best UK festivals of 2022

After a muted return for the UK's festival scene in 2021, this is the summer where festivals are coming roaring back with a vengeance. And thank goodness for that: summer's not summer without the chance to go crazy in a field, accompanied by bands, pals, and plastic cups of your favourite bevvy. This year, all the usual big players are present and correct, from student bacchanal Reading and Leeds to rock-fest Download to glitter explosion Mighty Hoopla. Whether you want to wallow in mud like a hippo or be safely tucked in bed by 10pm, there's a festival for you. Read on for your guide to summer festival fun, full of bands, culture, and all-round wild times. 

Actor Adeel Akhtar on how Walworth Road shaped him

Actor Adeel Akhtar on how Walworth Road shaped him

When I first moved to London after drama school, I wasn’t working much. I was signing on or handing out flyers for club nights, so I had a lot of time on my hands. I used to walk home from Brixton down Walworth Road. That street is always a reminder of the time when I was struggling. Just walking down it overwhelms me. Its mixture of languages, sounds, ethnicities and smells represents London. That mix is one of the reasons my mum and dad came to this country: it’s a London that’s inviting and accepting. Now, I live off Walworth Road with my family. There’s a sense of poetry in no longer just walking through, but being able to absorb it. My son goes to nursery round the corner, and I go to cafés like Louie Louie and Fowlds. And then there’s East Street Market, where people who’ve just come to the country have a stall alongside those who’ve been here for generations: there’s a hijabi lady who has a speaker on her stall playing old-school ‘get your shirts here’ market patter. Even though we’re lucky enough to be able to travel, it’s the best place in the world for us.  Adeel Akhtar is in ‘Ali & Ava’, out in cinemas on Mar 4. Read Time Out’s review here. Jacqueline Wilson remembers getting her first book deal in London. Yusuf/Cat Stevens reminisces about the sweaty clubs and record shops of Oxford Street.

Vault Festival in London: what to see

Vault Festival in London: what to see

This event has been cancelled  Vault Festival will be back in London in 2020 with another brilliantly eclectic eight-week programme of performance, lasting from 28th January until 22nd March. The action takes place in The Vaults Theatre, a sprawling, crypt-like space underneath Waterloo Station, with a couple of extra shows in nearby venues like Network Theatre and Morley College. Because it's a fringe fest, prices are most definitely pocket-friendly. Most tickets are £9-£16, which leaves a bit of spare cash for a pint at one of the venue's many bars. Here is our guide to the fest's best theatre, comedy, and events. For more theatre recommendations, read our critics' choice for the best of London theatre. 

London restaurants open on Christmas Day

London restaurants open on Christmas Day

The information on this page was correct at time of publication, but please check with venues before you head out Looking for a traditional Christmas meal – aka, the roast with the most – but without all the faff? Or perhaps turkey isn’t your thing, but you’d like to dine out on December 25? Or maybe you just fancy Xmas lunch in the pub? Here are the best places to eat out on Christmas Day.

London’s loveliest Christmas tree displays

London’s loveliest Christmas tree displays

Christmas in London is always memorable. There are dazzling festive lights, Yuletide markets, glistening ice rinks and not forgetting the city’s display of twinkling trees. From glamorous traditional firs to minimalistic art installations, every year brings a variety of trees to visit around the capital this winter. Here are some of hte city’s best  RECOMMENDED: The ultimate guide to Christmas in London.

Christmas pop-up cinema in London

Christmas pop-up cinema in London

What’s your favourite Christmas film? Are you a ‘Home Alone’ fan or more of a ‘Love Actually’ devotee? Do you think vintage classics like ’It’s a Wonderful Life’ conjure up festive feels more than genre fare like ‘Die Hard’ or ‘Gremlins’? Whichever seasonal movie is closest to your heart, it’s bound to be screening in London over the next few weeks. Pop-up cinemas are, er, popping up all over the city and many of our beloved independent picture houses have curated ace Christmas-themed seasons and special events. Settle down with a mug of hot chocolate or mulled wine and get caught up in festive big-screen nostalgia. RECOMMENDED: Read our full guide to Christmas in London.

All of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals, ranked

All of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals, ranked

With the news that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s much-loved musicals will be streaming to a global audience, what better time to rank his shows? From tonight, a different play by the composer will be streaming for free each week on dedicated YouTube channel The Show Must Go On!. Forthcoming smash-hits will include ‘Cats’ and ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. Read on to see where they stand in the artist’s back catalogue and which shows you really have to look out for over on YouTube in the coming weeks. 17. Starlight Express Trains. Singing. On rollerskates. Why? Sure, the standard response is, ‘It’s for kids.’ But honestly, our nation’s youth have enough on their plates without having to worry about the love lives of a bunch of frisky steam engines. It runs permanently in a custom-built arena in a German city called Bochum: they can keep it. 16. The Beautiful Game Even at their worst, the truth is Lloyd Webber’s scores are rarely the main problem with his musicals, but his choice of lyricists not named ‘Tim Rice’ is often catastrophic. Teaming up with Ben Elton to write a very earnest original story about Ireland during The Troubles is possibly as bad an idea as either of them have ever had, and they have both had some truly terrible ideas. 15. Whistle Down the Wind On paper, the pairing of Lloyd Webber and MeatLoaf’s songwriter Jim Steinman sounded agreeably bombastic. In reality, this adaptation of the classic Brit flick – torturously transposed to the American South – was ponderous a

Stephen Schwartz: ‘Anything we can do to expand empathy is worth doing’

Stephen Schwartz: ‘Anything we can do to expand empathy is worth doing’

Stephen Schwartz is one very proud dad. Proud of his musical offspring: as a songwriter he’s helped create mega-hits like Disney movie ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ and West End longrunner ‘Wicked’. And proud of his literal progeny: his son Scott is directing his new show, the stage version of 1998 Dreamworks animation ‘The Prince of Egypt’. ‘As a parent who works in showbiz, you never really want your child to go into it,’ Schwartz senior says. ‘But he’s had a passion for it since he was six years old.’ His working relationship with his son is built on more than nepotism, though. As Schwartz explains, his son’s a seasoned director in his own right. ‘When Disney wanted to do a stage version of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, they said “Listen, we want you to work with Scott on this, would that be difficult for you?”’ Fortunately Schwartzes Jr and Sr get on like a pyramid on fire, because their latest collaboration ‘The Prince of Egypt’ is an epic task, demanding a chariot race and the parting of the Red Sea. Schwartz seems quite taken with the kitsch-free approach of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ – ‘It’s so magical!’ – so he’s opting for something similarly stripped-back: ‘No spoilers, but it involves a great deal of choreography.’ As a weighty Biblical story of warring brothers Moses and Ramses, ‘The Prince of Egypt’ didn’t match the box office success of its perkier cartoon contemporaries like ‘The Lion King’. But Schwartz is adamant that it deserves a bigger audienc

London on a budget: 50 fun things to do for £5 or less

London on a budget: 50 fun things to do for £5 or less

It might sometimes seem like the only way to have fun in this city is to spend a wodge of cash, but there are actually loads of brilliant things to do in London for £5 (or even less). You can take a yoga class or get a haircut, you can neck oysters, dig into dumplings and sample some of the city’s finest culture (think ballet at the Royal Opera House, Shakespeare at the Globe and baroque murals at London’s very own ‘Sistine Chapel’ aka the Painted Hall). So don’t just fade away watching Netflix and waiting for payday – get out there and enjoy the best cheap stuff the capital has to offer.  Tuck into London’s best cheap eats and check out the city’s top free art.

London International Mime Festival: what to see

London International Mime Festival: what to see

London International Mime Festival – the longest-running festival of its kind – has a lot more up its sleeves than clowning and whiteface. Go for everything from spectacular circus and mask theatre to Lynchian magic and juggling inspired by Indian classical dance.   London International Mime Festival will return for its forty-third edition in 2020. The provisional dates are Wednesday 8th January–Sunday 2nd February 2020.

An ode to Elephant & Castle shopping centre

An ode to Elephant & Castle shopping centre

In the middle of Elephant & Castle’s web of main roads sits a perma-threatened shopping centre, as ungainly as a spider clinging to the side of the bath. The latest in its long string of funeral dates is set for 2020, but the thought of this much-loved south London landmark meeting the wrecking ball makes me want to chain myself to its railings, suffragette-style. It sold me neon sweets as a kid, and cheap trainers as a teen. Now I’m very fond of the discount Clarks outlet (never turn 30, it’s terrible). Its history stretches back way further. In 1965, when Westfield was just a twinkle in the milkman’s eye, a visionary dreamed of bringing American-style indoor shopping to Blitz-pummelled south London. What novelty! Miniskirted shoppers flocked to this pioneering outpost of style and convenience. The brutalist behemoth is uncompromising, but much like an Ugg boot, its exterior masks great comfort within. Thanks to an ingenious glass roof, it’s full of natural light, and efficiently funnels commuters from mainline rail to tube (anyone who’s lost years to London Bridge’s tunnels knows this is not a given). While newer shopping centres reek of formaldehyde and drained credit cards, there’s always some kind of delicious smell wafting around here, whether it’s fragrant basmati rice or fresh candyfloss. Photograph: DrimaFilm/Shutterstock.com ‘The thought of this landmark meeting the wrecking ball makes me want to chain myself to its railings’ Small food stands with bargainous pric

Listings and reviews (171)

‘My Fair Lady’ review

‘My Fair Lady’ review

3 out of 5 stars

‘My Fair Lady’ is a complicated kind of musical fairytale. It gives audiences wonderfully quaint Victoriana and an enchanting rags-to-riches transformation, but it also sours its own magic by unveiling the grim social injustices beneath the story. Fresh from Broadway, Bartlett Sher’s production is slick and accomplished, but loses the narrative's subtlety in a crowd-pleasing burst of top-hatted kitsch.Amara Okereke plays cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle with vocal aplomb: her voice soars through much-loved songs like 'Wouldn't It Be Loverly', making them a heart-rending highlight of the show. But she also makes Eliza a bit of a caricature. When she’s called insults like a ‘squashed cabbage leaf’ by patronising upper-class phonetics expert Henry Higgins she's not crushed – she physically shoves him out the room, in moments of physical comedy that mask her vulnerability in the moment.  And as Higgins, Harry Hadden-Paton lacks the haughty charisma and underlying menace needed to give their relationship real snap.Sher's direction and Michael Yeargan's elaborate but flat-feeling set design follow the much-loved 1963 film closely, and in doing so they create a staid frame around this story, one that only broad performances can puncture enough to get a laugh out of the audience. Sher’s treatment of 'I'm Getting Married in the Morning' is a case in point: this song is a comic classic, and it shouldn't need knicker-flashing chorus girls and a dragged-up dummy bride to have the audi

‘The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs’ review

‘The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs’ review

4 out of 5 stars

The rainbow flag offers an idealised portrait of the LGBTQ-plus community: people of different stripes co-existing in harmony, each taking up an equal amount of space. But the reality is messier, scribbled over with conflicts and inequalities. Iman Qureshi's warm, complex play 'The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs' explores just how difficult it is to create a queer space, while showing how beautiful it can be when the stars align. Things start out in pretty formulaic style. Each week, a disparate gaggle of lesbians meet up in a leaky-roofed hall to sing in a choir, with the lofty goal of performing on the main stage at Pride. There's wildly confident womaniser Ellie (Fanta Barrie), hyper-woke academic Ana (Claudia Jolly), and her reluctantly-tagging-along butch engineer girlfriend Lori (Kibong Tanji) who turns out to have an amazing singing voice, all arranged into an approximation of harmony by self-styled OWL (older wiser lesbian) Connie (Shuna Snow). It could all be the beginnings of a dykier, hopefully less doomed remake of 'Glee'. But Qureshi's play is way smarter than that. She toys enjoyably with lesbian cliches (sensible footwear, veganism, buzzcuts) only to reach beyond them to tell less familiar stories. Like that of Dina (an engagingly puppyish Lara Sawalha), a Muslim woman who throws herself into choir as an escape from her forbidding husband. Or that of the faltering romance between trans woman Brig (Mariah Louca), and Fi (Kiruna Stamell), who campaigns fruitlessly

‘Much Ado About Nothing’ review

‘Much Ado About Nothing’ review

3 out of 5 stars

Much like your average British spring, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is a tale of dark clouds as well as sunshine. But Lucy Bailey’s admirably clear production looks on the bright side of Shakespeare’s play, using a post-war Italian setting to drench its romances in light and warmth.In Joanna Parker’s playful design, the columns of Shakespeare’s Globe are wrapped with ivy, its boards are coated with cheery astroturf, and there's even an elaborate fountain that underscores the action with the gentle babble of water. It’s the perfect arena for the play’s famous ‘gulling’ scenes, where first Benedick (Ralph Davies) and then Beatrice (Lucy Phelps) is tricked into believing the other is in love with them. An eavesdropping Benedick scales the foliage-covered balcony as his feet barely escape the gardener’s snipping shears, while Beatrice ends up tangled in a badminton net, a sprinkler soaking her skirt. Davies and Phelps are both adept physical comedians, with chemistry that's as strong as their pratfalling skills, but the play’s chaos doesn't end with them. The masked ball becomes a woodland romp where the cast wear surreal wicker animal heads, and dinner on the lawn breaks down into a messy food fight.After all this silliness, the second act’s sickly lurch into tragedy comes as a shock. Katy Stephens makes a compelling gender-swapped Leonata, delivering an agonisingly painful rejection of her daughter Hero (Nadi Kemp-Sayfi), who's publicly shamed for her supposed infidelity. These sce

‘The Corn is Green’ review

‘The Corn is Green’ review

3 out of 5 stars

There's always something spine-tinglingly magical about a Welsh male voice choir singing straight out to the audience. And Dominic Cooke's revival of Emlyn Williams’s ‘The Corn is Green’ exploits that magic to the max: his music-filled attempt to spruce up an intriguing-but-dated 1938 play sometimes founders but often sings.It focuses on that much-beloved cultural totem, the charismatic schoolteacher who drags her charges from the muck of ignorance into the divine light of knowledge. But where ‘The History Boys’ or ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’ focus on a whole classful of pupils, here Miss Moffat sets her sights on just one, the impossibly talented Morgan Evans.Nicola Walker is tremendous as this dedicated, stubborn teacher, who spends her inheritance on moving from London to a small Welsh mining town to set up a school. She delivers bristling putdowns to the local Squire (a hilariously pompous Rufus Wright) who believes that educating the children of miners will lead to social unrest. She coaxes two at-a-loss locals into serving as teachers. And she nudges Evans (Iwan Davies) into brilliance by relentlessly challenging him, bringing him from biddable teacher's pet to independent thinker – her efforts underpinned by the softest hint of sexual chemistry.‘The Corn is Green’ is heavily based on Williams’s own life, but with the contrast amped up to the max: he made his character's poverty and misery more gruelling, his ascent to Oxford more precipitous. But that means it's al

‘Scandaltown’ review

‘Scandaltown’ review

3 out of 5 stars

  It takes guts to try and satirise an era of culture war-infected British politics that pretty effectively sends up itself. It takes even more guts to do it in the style of a Restoration comedy, full of crossdressing, courtly language and creaking corsets. So Mike Bartlett's new play ‘Scandaltown’ gets some serious points for trying, even if it ultimately falls short of sharp-toothed hilarity and lands somewhere a bit more mealy-mouthed.The plot is so (deliberately) nonsensical that it's almost not worth explaining it. But here goes: Phoebe Virtue (a delightfully mannered Cecilia Appiah) is, as her name suggests, a pure-hearted member of Gen Z who is concerned that her brother Jack (Matthew Broome) is acting the lad in London. So she goes there, disguised as a man, to spy on him. Meanwhile, Lady Climber (a brilliantly funny Rachael Stirling) is trying to launch a political career in a world where getting cancelled is the surest way to land a telly breakfast show. Their stories collide at the Netflix masked ball, where identities are muddled and queer confusion abounds. It's all a bit like a panto with more sex, more politics and no sweets chucked at the audience (tragically).At its best, Scandaltown is a lot of fun: as he proved with ‘King Charles III’, Bartlett has a knack for verse, and turns out Restoration-inspired insults like ‘quivering millennial quim’ for his characters to chuck at each other. There's something really smart about the way that the Regency obsession w

The Doctor

The Doctor

This review is of the 2019 Almeida run for ‘The Doctor’. In 2022 it finally transfers to the West End, with Juliet Stevenson reprising her role. The rest of the cast is TBC.  Robert Icke's final show as Almeida associate director, 'The Doctor' starts out as a fairly straightforward examination of medical ethics, very loosely based on Arthur Schnitzler’s 'Professor Bernhardi'. Then Icke grabs his scalpel and carves messily into a whole mass of other issues; identity politics, media witch hunts, the way institutions protect themselves against criticism. This is 'talky' theatre, 'ideas' theatre; the kind where intense debates play out over long stretching-out scenes – drummer Hannah Ledwidge keeps the tension up with a live percussion soundtrack delivered from a perch above the stage, like a miniature god commanding you to listen. Not that 'The Doctor' is telling you what to think. Not obviously, anyway. Juliet Stevenson plays the title role of Ruth Wolff, a white female senior clinician who refuses to allow a Catholic priest to see a 14-year-old girl who's dying after a botched abortion. It's not really clear why she decided to treat this teenager in her prestigious dementia hospital, but that's by the by; she's soon swept up in a media firestorm over religious freedom in medicine. And then, over unconscious bias more generally; the priest was a black man, and the optics are bad. Icke's narrative is particularly strong on the way that identities become weaponised and pitted aga

‘Mary Poppins’ review

‘Mary Poppins’ review

3 out of 5 stars

Much like ‘Paddington’, ‘Mary Poppins’ is a gorgeously warm kids’ story that’s burrowed deep into the hearts of Londoners of all ages. It creates a seductive myth of a city that’s awash with cheery cockneys and lovable upper-crust eccentrics who roam picturesque tree-lined streets with a spring in their step. Cameron Mackintosh’s returning 2004 musical version couldn’t look more magical; the Banks family’s Cherry Tree Lane residence becomes a giant doll’s house of wonders, opening up to reveal charming Victorian interiors and plenty of magical surprises. Writer Julian Fellowes (‘Downton Abbey’) is clearly in familiar territory here. Where the 'Paddington' movies updated the setting to a warm, inclusive vision of 21st century London, his script opts for period-drama archness. The story is a hodgepodge of the movie, PL Travers’s original books and a few ideas of Fellowes’s own: he shifts the setting back a few decades to Queen Victoria’s heyday, and makes Mrs Banks a frustrated former actress instead of a militant suffragette. The effect is jarring at first, especially if you’re a fan of the movie: many of its most memorable scenes get scrapped, like the bit where Poppins summons up a hurricane to whisk away rival nannies, or the bit with the dancing penguins and carousel horses, or the ‘I Love to Laugh’ tea party where everyone ends up giggling on the ceiling. They get replaced with much, much weirder interludes that presumably come from Travers’s original book. The kids’ supp

‘An Unfinished Man’ review

‘An Unfinished Man’ review

4 out of 5 stars

Kayode is stuck. He can't get a job, so he's literally wallowing in misery in a shallow pool in the centre of the stage, at the busy feet of his wife Kikipoe (who's happily employed in ‘digital’). Director Taio Lawson and playwright Dipo Baruwa-Etti fill ‘An Unfinished Man’ with arresting, vivid images like this. But Baruwa-Etti’s play also manages something seriously impressive. It's rich in metaphors and ambiguities, while also being chest-tighteningly specific about what it's like to feel that your life never got started. The answer to Kayode's prayers comes through an unexpected channel. A charismatic preacher convinces Kayode he’s been cursed, and persuades him to undertake a terrifying-sounding cure: 72 hours without food or water, only prayer and soul-searching for sustenance. No-nonsense Kikiope is unconvinced. But Kayode’s mother is on board, blaming herself for a curse that she thinks was administered when he was a baby in Nigeria.Soon, Kayode (Fode Simbo) is literally wrestling with his demon, Itan (Selina Jones). Jones has a physicality that’s mesmerising to watch. Her fingers wave like seaweed or transform into claws that interlace with Kayode's own shaking hands, as they speak in a cryptic language of their own. ‘I am history’, she tells him, becoming an ancient, pagan force of resistance against the Christian morality of Kayode’s family, and against the capitalist London society that tells him he must be productive to have worth. As Kayode’s preacher debates hi

‘Come from Away’ review

‘Come from Away’ review

5 out of 5 stars

Musicals don’t come much more low-key, wholesome or Canadian than ‘Come from Away’. Writers Irene Sankoff and David Hein cook up the straightforward world of the Newfoundland town of Gander using a very straightforward set of ingredients. The cast wear sensible shoes and lumberjack shirts. They tramp across a wood-decked stage that evokes the huge skies of their tiny island. They sing their way through a set of folk-tinged songs that tell stories of the five days after 9/11, when 38 planes made emergency landings on the island’s huge, disused airstrip. And it’s all totally, soul-feedingly wonderful. ‘Come from Away’ has been a massive sleeper hit across North America, Broadway included, and it’s easy to see why: it mixes down-home authenticity with the desperate intensity that comes in times of crisis. This is a moment where 7,000 temporary arrivals join a community of just 9,000 people. Logistics might not be the sexiest of topics for a musical, but one of the many surprising joys of this show is how gripping it makes things like the struggle to rustle up transport at a time when the local school bus drivers were on strike and had to be coaxed into crossing the picket line. Then there are beds, food, medication and interpreters to be sourced for passengers from across the world: one non-English-speaking couple communicates by cross-referencing Bible verses. Based closely on interviews with real Newfoundlanders, this is a picture of a community that stretches itself to break

‘Dear Evan Hansen’ review

‘Dear Evan Hansen’ review

4 out of 5 stars

This wildly hyped Broadway hit musical is basically ‘Faust’ for high-schoolers. A nerdy, anxiety-ridden teenage boy sells his soul (well, his integrity, anyway) for the popularity and appreciation he’s spent his whole life craving. But his guilt makes every YouTube follow or Twitter retweet become excruciating – and then the whole fragile edifice comes crashing down. It’s easy to see why ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ has won so many fans since it first premiered in 2015: it mixes agonising tension with surgingly catchy songs by songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who’ve also worked on movies ‘La La Land’ and ‘The Greatest Showman’. The standout numbers are emotive rock ballads like ‘You Will be Found’, the kind of thing you’d wave your lighter along to if the West End’s theatres weren’t imperilled enough already. But the score’s also stuffed with inspirations from emo to bluegrass, and Evan’s mum gets a gravelly howl of frustration that could be straight out of Alanis Morissette’s back catalogue.   The intense emotionalism of the score is characteristic of a musical where everything’s dialled up to 11. Evan Hansen isn’t just your archetypal teen movie loser; he’s as fragile as a peeled egg, bouncing from humiliation to humiliation in a high school that’s like a machine designed to slice him up. A West End newcomer, 21-year-old Sam Tutty glows with sweat and goodness, bringing integrity to a storyline that’s somewhere between ingenious and tortuous. Evan’s mother gets him treatment f

‘Dear Elizabeth’ review

‘Dear Elizabeth’ review

4 out of 5 stars

The Gate’s production of ‘Dear Elizabeth’ will be restaged in 2021 at the slightly larger Theatro Technis, to allow for social distancing. American poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell wrote letters to each other for three decades between 1947 and 1977. And they’re entirely fascinating, taking in everything from intense admissions of their co-dependency to literary criticism to notes marking the triumphant acquisition of a pet toucan. Playwright Sarah Ruhl’s ‘Dear Elizabeth’ – which had its New York premiere in 2012 – dramatises their waxing and waning romantic friendship. Gate artistic director Ellen McDougall’s abbreviated, reworked staging of Ruhl’s play goes one step further, leading two different, unprepared actors through a kind of poetical treasure hunt each night.The performance I saw featured actors Jade Anouka and Jonjo O'Neill making awe-inspiringly fluent work of these letters, settling into their rhythms in a way that quickly moved from awkwardness to utter naturalness. McDougall’s approach is full of play and wit, breaking up what could have been a very static exercise with outbreaks of poignant, surreal joy. O’Neill, as Lowell, opens a letter that instructs him to set up a kind of cliched romantic picnic: and when his attempts at wooing Bishop falter, he takes out a red rose from between his teeth and drowns it in a wine glass. Moi Tran’s set design is all about luscious surfaces (rich velvet curtains, an iridescent floor) and tongue-in-cheek theatricality

Zola

Zola

4 out of 5 stars

Being addicted to Twitter probably isn’t something I’d recommend to a friend. But in among the oversharing, vicious infighting and cute things someone’s kid definitely didn’t say, there are absolute gems. Back in the distant days of 2015, 19-year-old A’Ziah King took to Twitter to tell a story that went mega, super viral: ‘Y’all wanna hear a story about why me and this bitch here fell out???????? It’s kinda long but it’s full of suspense,’ she said, in what turned out to be a pretty understated trailer for a heart-stopping story of a friendship between two young strippers that goes off the rails in a messy spatter of manipulation, lies and exploitation.  Now, director Janicza Bravo has turned that thread into a sparkling, spike-heeled sprint of a movie, the kind that’s somehow hugely fun to watch even though everyone in it’s trapped in their own internal hell. It’s pretty and massively ugly.  Zola (newcomer Taylour Paige) is beautiful, bored of her diner job and getting her thrills by working as a dancer at a strip club on the side – her boyfriend’s not wild about it but she uses sex to tame him into submission. But it’s meeting Stefani (American Honey’s Riley Keough) that really gets her heart fluttering: they bond over dancing in strip clubs, and the power it gives them. Stefani proposes a trip to Florida, a joy ride that’ll fill their fists with dollars. But things sour fast. Stefani initially seems sweet, but in Keough’s committed and hugely offensive

News (128)

Update: Four men have been infected with monkeypox in London

Update: Four men have been infected with monkeypox in London

Remember when everyone was an armchair epidemiologist? Remember the thrilling feeling of being glued to all the latest stats? Of scrutinising complex graphs with chin-stroking smugness? Yeah, look, 2020 was a weird time for us all. But if it’s left you with a residual interest in the human body’s infinite ability to harbour unsavoury diseases, then you’ll be intrigued by the newest ailment to hit London: monkeypox. The outbreak began last week, when a patient infected with monkeypox was placed in isolation in a specialist unit at St Thomas’ Hospital, after returning from a trip to Nigeria, where the disease is endemic in animals. Now, four men have been infected in London, and the UK’s Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is investigating how they caught the disease, and whether their cases are related to each other. The men all identify as gay or bisexual, and the UKHSA is encouraging gay and bisexual men in particular to look out for any unusual rashes or lesions.Monkeypox begins with a fever, muscle aches, headache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion, before the appearance of a rash that starts on the face or genitals then spreads to other parts of the body. But before you start to panic, remember that the UKHSA has reassured the public that the bug doesn’t spread easily between people unless there's extremely close contact. It’s also fairly mild: thankfully, most people recover within a few weeks.  Monkeypox was first identified in 1958, in a population of monkeys kept

One of London’s cheapest pints is served in the House of Commons bar!

One of London’s cheapest pints is served in the House of Commons bar!

Forget wrinkles, music taste or preferred trouser silhouette, the quickest way to tell someone’s age is their level of shock when they’re asked to pay £6 for a pint. And that’s a feeling Londoners have got increasingly used to, as booze prices creep upwards with the grim inevitability of rising damp. But as the world’s media trains its microscope on the boozing and partying habits of the UK’s politicians, one particular drinking den is hitting the limelight for its impressively low prices. The Strangers’ Bar is the Houses of Parliament’s popular in-house pub, and it serves up some serious bargains.  A pint of Carlsberg is just £3.56, and Green King IPA is even less at just £3.45. And wine drinkers will find their tipples a steal too: a small glass of sauvignon blanc white wine is a penny-pinching £3.05. Even champagne clocks in at under a tenner a glass. It’s an impressively cheap price list, especially when you consider that the average London pint everywhere else costs £5.33, according to shopping comparison site Finder.com (although rival pint-pricers The British Beer and Pub Association estimate it at a rather cheaper £4.84).  But the House of Commons is keen to stress that there’s nothing untoward about its prices: their onsite bars are unsubsidised, and apparently prices are benchmarked with venues outside parliament.  So how can you get in on the bargain pint action? Well, guests of politicians are allowed in, so you could try currying Boris’s favour by utilising a few

Five ways to ace your commute with TfL’s new Elizabeth Line merch drop

Five ways to ace your commute with TfL’s new Elizabeth Line merch drop

The Elizabeth Line is finally opening on Tuesday May 24, after a long and scarcely bearable wait. But TfL has made up for the delay by releasing a bountiful array of merch themed around its luscious Cadbury’s Dairy Milk-hued seats. Here’s how to turn your fellow commuters purple with envy.  Photograph: London Transport Museum Hide your pimply face with a gorgeous face maskVisible pores are ugly. New public transport infrastructure is beautiful. Plus, research has shown that people perceive strangers to be more beautiful when only their eyes are visible. So whether or not you’re worried about the viral load of your fellow passengers, a mask is the obvious choice to swathe your time-worn mug in. Photograph: London Transport Museum Show some ankle in fashionable socksYou’re running for the tube. There’s only room for one more sweating body in the packed carriage. Fortunately, your rivals will scatter like a crowd of tube rats when a pest control officer approaches once they see your dashing purple socks. Those teasing few inches of heliotrope polycotton will demonstrate that you’re a force to be reckoned with, divinely attuned to the frequencies of the Transport Gods, and able to unleash untold commuting nightmares upon anyone who stands in your way. Photograph: LU Collections Sip your brew from an appropriately themed mugNormal people, weak people, carry their morning coffee to work in a travel cup. Life's real winners opt for a china mug, womanfully bearing the pain of a

London is getting Europe’s first psychedelic drugs research lab

London is getting Europe’s first psychedelic drugs research lab

There was a time when getting into mushrooms meant either scouring your Ottolenghi cookbook, or choking down some ill-tasting tea in a field somewhere, while wearing asymmetric hempen garments and listening to psytrance. But now mushrooms are being dragged out of the woods and into the lab, as scientists discover the potentially wondrous medical effects of the fungi-derived compound psilocybin. British start-up Clerkenwell Health is opening the first commercial facility for psychedelic drug trials in Europe, making London a world leader in shroomy research. The first trials will begin in August, and will focus on psilocybin’s potential to help people cope after they’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Using psychedelics in mental-health treatment isn’t exactly a new concept: researchers started trials way back in the ’50s. But scientific progress has been painfully slow since then, after the UK government banned LSD in 1967 and psilocybin in 1971, largely putting paid to further studies.  Now, things finally seem to be ramping up again, and the UK’s fast becoming a world centre for research thanks to regulators that are increasingly willing to approve trials, and the recent introduction of a special pathway designed to bring innovative therapies to market more quickly. Clerkenwell Health’s new lab near Harley Street will work with drug companies around the world, including Toronto’s Psyence, Canada’s Mindset Pharma and US-based Mydecine, to tackle problems like end-of-

A new ‘Stranger Things’ immersive experience is coming to London

A new ‘Stranger Things’ immersive experience is coming to London

With its winning combo of soul-soothing ’80s nostalgia and watch-through-your-fingers moments of supernatural horror, the ‘Stranger Things’ universe is a pretty compelling one. So it’s no surprise that Netflix and events company Fever have teamed up to let fans explore it for themselves. ‘Stranger Things: The Experience’ is coming to London this summer and it’s a multimedia experience (presumably, that means it relies on video footage rather than live actors) that’s designed to immerse you in the world of the wildly popular series. It begins with the chance to experience the terrors of the Hawkins Lab and the Upside Down. Then, once you’ve escaped, there’s the chance to discover the sweeter joys of hangout spots Scoops Ahoy and the Palace Arcade.  Afterwards, there’ll be the chance to grab food, drinks, and photo opportunities at Mix-Tape, a retail space packed with all the merch your avaricious heart could desire. And the experience’s savvy creators haven’t stopped the fact that the series’ stars are below legal drinking age from letting them create a custom ‘Stranger Things’ bar.  Is this all a faintly cynical attempt to cash in on fans’ ‘Stranger Things’ obsession? Potentially yes. Will it be a lot of fun? Potentially also yes. What’s certain is that with interactive experiences based on everything from ‘Bridgerton’ to Monopoly already up and running, London’s appetite for interactive shows no sign of waning.  Tickets to ‘Stranger Things: The Experience’ start at £39 and w

Londoners are sharing their bike storage woes

Londoners are sharing their bike storage woes

You don't have to be a cycling aficionado to know that London’s bike theft situation is out of control: you can barely pass a cycle rack without seeing the dismembered corpse of some poor sap’s beloved Raleigh chained to the rail. The only way for bike lovers to keep their precious pedally pals safe is to keep them locked up at night. But that's not easy to do in a city with a major shortage of cycle storage hangars. Currently, a whopping 60,000 Londoners are on the waiting list to get a spot in a storage hangar nearby. And now, they’re taking to social media to raise awareness of this wheely serious problem, using the hashtag #ThisIsAwkward.  #ThisIsAwkwardSince my bike was stolen, there’s only one place it’s felt safe, and been possible, to store my partner’s new bike — I’m practically sleeping with it.We need better bike storage now @cities_clean pic.twitter.com/MT3IE5UFGZ — Sarah 🍓 (@SarahJ_Berry) March 8, 2022 Family living in a first-floor flat without safe bike parking storage.The inconvenience of hauling bikes up a flight of stairs, through the flat and onto the balcony would discourage a lot of easily-commutable cycling trips.#ThisIsAwkward pic.twitter.com/MeyDmwiFKs — Kylie 🚲 (@netwench) March 25, 2022 My partner's bike and my road bike. I have a space in a hangar (5 mins away) that I secured after a 5 year wait. Only another 5 years and we'll hopefully be able to enjoy the fireplace. #ThisIsAwkward pic.twitter.com/nHa3Hl9KXF — Kentish Tow

Canada Water is next to get the King's Cross big regeneration treatment

Canada Water is next to get the King's Cross big regeneration treatment

King's Cross is basically unrecognisable, after a ten-year redevelopment programme transformed it from a grimy hinterland of raves and nefarious activities into a shiny, design-led district that's soon to be home to Google's HQ. And whether or not you miss its rough-round-the-edges past, it's definitely brought plenty of new blood to N1. Now, another well-connected-but-neglected postcode is getting the major redevelopment treatment at the hands of the same developer, Roger Madelin of British Land. Canada Water has landed a whopping £4 billion of investment to transform its town centre and provide thousands of new homes.  The next 15 years will be massive for Canada Water. It's getting a shiny new town centre, including 10 new streets with a new shopping high street at their heart. 3,000 new homes will be built, of which 25 percent will be social rented, and another 10 percent will be designated as affordable (which includes shared ownership). New office buildings will provide over two million square feet of workspace for up to 20,000 workers. And there'll also be one million square feet of shopping, leisure, entertainment, education and community space included in the plans.  The most novel aspect of the development is probably the emphasis on sustainability and the outdoors. Developer British Land is promising that it'll be net zero on carbon emissions, taking measures such as using cement-free concrete to cut carbon use, in a UK first. 1,200 new trees will be planted. And i

Westminster Abbey is opening its roof for the first time this summer

Westminster Abbey is opening its roof for the first time this summer

Right now, Frank’s Cafe is quaking in its boots as a hot new rooftop destination enters the fray. It doesn’t serve cocktails (tragically). But it does serve up stunning views over London, plus a chance to goggle at some gorgeous gothic stonework and grimacing gargoyles. Westminster Abbey is opening its rooftops to the public for the first time ever this summer, in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee festivities, and it sounds like an incredible opportunity to soak up the sights and stories of this much-loved thirteenth-century building.  What’s the catch? Well, the price tag is a seriously hefty £70 for a 60-minute tour, which would buy you an abundantly boozy night on the tiles at one of London’s more established rooftop spots. Still, you can’t put a price on history, and Westminster Abbey has that in spades. It was the coronation spot of choice for Norman kings, survived a bombing by the suffragettes in 1914, and is now a beloved tourist hotspot and a reminder of London’s medieval heritage. Westminster Abbey’s rooftop will be open twice a month from June to August on selected Fridays and Saturdays. The abbey’s clerk of the works and head of visitor experience will guide a group of ten people round the space. Visitors have to be over 18, physically fit enough to climb steep flights of stairs, and will need a serious head for heights to survive this vertiginous experience. Sadly, tickets sold out within hours of the opening being announced, but we’ll be keeping our eyes pe

ロンドン、オックスフォード・ストリートのアールデコ建築が取り壊し

ロンドン、オックスフォード・ストリートのアールデコ建築が取り壊し

かつて繁栄を極めた小売業の楽園、ロンドンのオックスフォード・ストリート。この場所では、今、恐ろしい呪いが降りかかってしまったのではないかと思うようなことが起きている。百貨店のDebenhamsとHouse of Fraserは永久に閉店。「ビッグ」トップショップはIKEAに取って代わられ、元HMV旗艦店はアメリカ菓子を売る店になってしまった。 そしてついにMarks & Spencer(M&S)にまで、変化の時が訪れた。同社は、本店を取り壊して、買い物のための空間が少ない代わりにオフィス部分が多い、特徴のない新店舗を建設するという。 そのことを、ロンドンの人々はそれを快く思っていない。取り壊される建物は、ロンドンにあるアールデコ建築の中でもかなり美しいものだからだ。「Orchard House」と呼ばれるM&Sの本店ビルは、Trehearne & Normanが設計し、1929〜30年に建設。6階建てのハンサムな建物で、石造りの優雅なクラシックなファサードを誇る。 残念なことに、新しいビルには、その魅力がまったく引き継がれない。オフィスとフィットネスクラブを含む、10階建てのつまらない場所になる予定なのだ。しかも、完成は2027年。その長い間、醜く、迷惑な建築工事であり続けるわけだ。 我々の知っているオックスフォード・ストリートがその一部をまた失う。人々はそのことについて、Twitterで悲しみと怒りを表明している。 Seriously @marksandspencer what are you thinking? Fantastic old building but you want new and shiny. Nobody's going to be shopping in stores by the time you demolish this building and replace it. What a bunch of numpties.https://t.co/lLu62x5hYf — Cheryl Brown Garrard (@CBGBTX) April 12, 2022  「マジでMarks & Spencerは何を考えているんだ? 素晴らしい古い建物なのに、あなたたちは、新しくてピカピカなものを求めている。 この建物を取り壊して立て替えが終わる頃には、誰も店なんかで買い物をしなくなるんだよ。なんて愚かな人たちなんだ(Cheryl Brown Garrard @CBGBTX)」 The demolition of the M&S store to go ahead, when will we learn our lesson?? Reuse and adaption is the way forward #heritage #Sustainability #retrofithttps://t.co/sxhbXbvV6x — Heritage Declares (@Heritagedecl) April 12, 2022 「M&Sの店舗は取り壊しが進むようだ。いつになったら教訓を生かせるのか? 再利用と適応が進むべき道だ(Heritage Declares @Heritagedecl)」 M&Sの経営陣は、新しいビルはカーボンポジティブ、つまり二酸化炭素を発生するのではなく、環境から取り除く施設になると主張している。エネ

An African-themed redesign of London Underground’s logo is getting a permanent home

An African-themed redesign of London Underground’s logo is getting a permanent home

The London Underground roundel has a good claim of being one of the best-known logos in the UK, if not the world: it’s been endlessly reproduced, riffed on and parodied since it was first created in the early twentieth century. Now it’s had a makeover courtesy of British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong, who has replaced its traditional red, white and blue colouring with bold shades of red, yellow, green and black – the colours of Ghana’s flag. His new roundel will go on permanent display at Westminster Station, just opposite Big Ben, in a powerful affirmation of multicultural London. It’ll be seen by thousands of tourists, commuters and locals each day. In a nice gesture, Achiampong has said he wants his artwork to be displayed outside the ticket barriers, so it’ll be free for everyone, whether they intend to travel or not, to enjoy.  This roundel was originally one of eight, designed by Achiampong as part of a temporary commission at Westminster station three years ago. His starry design is decked with West African Adinkra symbols inspired by the Ghanaian idea of ‘sankofa’, which means delving into the past to find inspiration for the future, as well as visually referencing sci-fi and time-travel themes. The artwork will be accompanied by pocket guides containing an interview with Achiampong, as well as permanent plaques on the station offering context.  It’s all a welcome new addition to TfL’s popular Art on the Underground strand, which brings joy, surprise and colour to

London’s going to hit 21C over Easter bank holiday: here’s how to make the most of it

London’s going to hit 21C over Easter bank holiday: here’s how to make the most of it

Do you remember the sweet, sweet sensation of warm sun on bare skin? The happy yells of children playing in parks? The slow drip of a melting ice lolly? Yes, it feels like an eternity since the glorious days of last summer, but warmer weather is finally on its way. And the great thawing will start with the Easter long weekend, which is forecast to reach balmy high temperatures of 21C on Good Friday. Okay, it's not quite the wild heatwave of our dreams, but it’s more than warm enough to justify some delicious hours spent outdoors in the weak English sunshine. Here are some of the best ways to enjoy it: 1. Scoff an ice-cream sandwich from Ruby VioletRuby Violet serves up gorgeous iced treats from its branches in Tufnell Park and King’s Cross: the sweet contrast between comforting biscuit and chilly ice cream is just what you need on a warm(ish) day. 2. Delight in the cherry blossom in Greenwich ParkIt’s sakura season! So make for Greenwich Park’s deliciously pink avenue of cherry trees and you’ll be in a rosy wonderland of pompom-shaped blossoms and falling petals.  3. Take kids on a Very Hungry Caterpillar-themed trail through Kew GardensThis adorable-sounding outdoor trail for kids includes delectable fruit sculptures and nature facts as it narrates the life cycle of a butterfly. 4. Sip a cocktail at Bussey Rooftop BarYes, the gold standard for outdoor summertime tippling is the legendary Frank’s Cafe, but you don't want to spend half your weekend queuing to get in. Opt inste

A beautiful 1920s M&S on Oxford Street is being demolished and people are unhappy

A beautiful 1920s M&S on Oxford Street is being demolished and people are unhappy

Right now it feels like some kind of ancient and terrible curse has fallen over the once-thriving retail paradise of Oxford Street. Debenhams and House of Fraser have closed their doors for good, the ‘big’ Topshop is set to be replaced by an IKEA, HMV’s flagship only sells sweets and now M&S is demolishing its headquarters to make room for new premises with less shopping space, more offices and zero character.  And people aren’t happy about it. Particularly because the building that’s facingthe wrecking ball is a rather beautiful example of art deco London architecture. Built in 1929-30, M&S’s HQ Orchard House is a handsome six-storey building boasting an elegant stone-faced classical façade designed by architects Trehearne & Norman. Its replacement lacks any of the same charm, offering ten unlovely storeys that include offices and a gym. Plus, it won't be completed until 2027, making for long, ugly and inconvenient building works. It’s another piece of Oxford Street as we know it, lost. And people have taken to Twitter to express their sadness and anger at the move.  Trehearne & Norman Seriously @marksandspencer what are you thinking? Fantastic old building but you want new and shiny. Nobody's going to be shopping in stores by the time you demolish this building and replace it. What a bunch of numpties.https://t.co/lLu62x5hYf — Cheryl Brown Garrard (@CBGBTX) April 12, 2022 The demolition of the M&S store to go ahead, when will we learn our lesson?? Reuse and adaption i