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Pass the Ferrero Rocher

I was in a café in downtown Johannesburg, discussing a project with a Japanese friend, when my phone rang. I apologised and answered, and she noticed surprise cross my face. The caller introduced himself, on first-name terms, and proceeded to invite me over to his house. Who was that? she asked, when I’d finished. “Our… read more +

From Dev to Macca: Irish presidents

Thirty years after he handwrote the Irish constitution, President Eamon de Valera found himself having to justify the role of president he had created. The occasion was a visit from a newly appointed British ambassador, Sir Andrew Gilchrist. “I’m rather ignorant about the Irish constitution,” Gilchrist admitted. “Does the Cabinet write you a sort of… read more +

Peter Sheridan’s 47 Roses

“If there’s a Mr Sheridan on board, could he please make himself known?” The bus had just arrived in Derry from Dublin, and Peter Sheridan was sitting down the back. He assumed they were looking for somebody else. But nobody else responded and so, as he got off the bus, Sheridan asked were they looking… read more +

The nervousness of Tennessee Williams

Who was the cat on the hot tin roof? Elizabeth Taylor was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of the skittish Southern belle, Maggie, in Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. But the real cat was Tennessee Williams himself.   Williams took the title from the phrase “nervous as a cat on… read more +

Shakespeare’s anti-Semitic rom-com

The hero is a man who spits on Jews in the street. One of the romantic leads wins praise for winning, and converting, a young Jewish woman. The rousing climax involves the entire cast exulting in the humiliation of a Jew being forced to convert to Christianity. And this is the story of one of… read more +

As Chekhov said, ‘Fuck this’

When actor Conor Madden took a rapier thrust just under his eye during the final scene in Hamlet recently, he joined a long list of actors to whom tragedy on stage has come a little too close for comfort.   The day he was injured, in a production by Second Age, company director Alan Stanford… read more +

We eat ham, and jam, and Spam a lot

The two funniest moments in the history of Monty Python were also two of the darkest, and both were thanks to Graham Chapman’s death. Chapman, who played King Arthur in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and Brian in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, died of cancer in 1989, aged 48. His friends… read more +

Review: Raoul at the Abbey Theatre

This might be the most beautiful thing you will ever see on the Abbey stage. Some philanthropist should block-book the Abbey for the week and give the tickets to teenagers and people who’ve never been to the theatre. And then they should persuade James Thiérrée to stay on for a few nights, and straight after… read more +

Gary Mitchell, loyal playwright

“I’ve spent my life being jealous of Catholics.” It’s not something you expect to hear from a working-class, loyalist, Ulster protestant. But then, Gary Mitchell is no ordinary working-class protestant. “I used to think that if I walked down the Falls Road, I’d get shot. “But the last time I walked down the Falls Road,… read more +

New radio series on theatre & protest