Comptoir Libanais, tucked away in Guildhall, is a vibrant, homely yet exotic Lebanese restaurant which, like many restaurant chains overwhelming Exeter, has tailored its menu to the cultural January incentive to practice veganism – creatively coined ‘Veganuary.’ Many who opt for this ‘dry’ January of, rather than no alcohol, no meat, dairy and other animal-based products, seek a healthy alternative, a dietary challenge and an experience of eating in a certain way which proclaims to be more environmentally friendly. With veganism on the rise, not only for the month of January, it seems natural for restaurants to want to seize this dietary development and create their own vegan options which do not simply proclaim falafel or chickpeas as their main ingredients. Veganism is a challenge, not only for those pursuing it as their diet for the month of January or the duration of their dietary existence, but also for restaurants who must stand out using what appears to be a limited landscape of ingredients to choose from. Continue reading Review: Comptoir Libanais’ Veganuary Menu
Dry January can get a bit dull so here are a few non-alcoholic suggestions of what to drink without sacrificing the reliability of beers and the elegance of cocktails. Continue reading Low Alcohol Drinks: Dry January Inspiration
Beth owns two cats. Beth owns two cats, and every morning, once she has fed her cats she gets the 8:21 bus to work. Continue reading The Life Chronicles: A Yellow Raincoat in The Sorrento Sunshine
A Taste of Honey, Shelagh Delaney’s debut play (written when she was just 19 years old), proves that being a product of its time does not stop art from being important to contemporary audiences. Bijan Sheibani’s current touring production, for the National Theatre and showing at Trafalgar Studios in London this holiday season, only serves to reiterate this point. When the play premiered at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in 1958, it was considered part of the post-war ‘kitchen sink’ genre because of how it revolutionised British theatre by questioning class, race, gender and sexuality in mid-20th century Britain. Continue reading Review: A Taste of Honey @ Trafalgar Studios
Gatsby: the name is synonymous with glamour, the roaring ‘20s, extravagant excess, wealth, parties, hedonism, flowing alcohol, the power to turn dreams into reality, and the sense of a lost time. It also signifies a story of dashed ambition and tragedy. EUTCO’s production of The Great Gatsby at the Northcott, adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s American classic, drew out these tensions thoughtfully and impressively. Published in 1925, Fitzgerald’s novel has undergone a whole new revival with the onset of the 2020s. Mimi Templar Gay’s direction produced a play which encouraged its audience to reflect on its relevance to our present time, particularly in light of its pervasive concerns with money, success and what it means to be fortunate. Continue reading Review: EUTCO’s The Great Gatsby
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The tale of Sweeney Todd and Mrs Lovett carries a loaded reputation; from Broadway to Burton, the tale of the “Demon barber of Fleet Street” and his pie-making partner-in-crime has become a household horror story, making it often difficult to revitalise. Shotgun Theatre’s production, however, did not disappoint in its thrilling and refreshing adaptation, boasting an extraordinarily talented band, an impressively crafted set, and a cast that could be straight from the West End. Directed by Jessa Thompson, the murderous tale has been modified with exciting twists, and her feminist reworkings of certain characters are invigorating to an otherwise predictable plot. Continue reading Review: Shotgun Theatre’s Sweeney Todd
This winter the Royal Academy of Arts has exhibited Lucian Freud: The Self-portraits. The collection of portraits ranges from his early career in 1940, to his most recent work in 2001. This masterfully curated exhibition focuses on the self and demonstrates how Freud’s painting style has changed and matured over time. The exhibition progresses from his early surrealist painting, to his later brutally realist work, exposing the frailty of his aged body. The style of his portraits is striking and contradictory as Freud resists being exposed and “known”, he hides in his paintings, yet also maintains intrigue as the subject of the portrait. Continue reading Review: Lucian Freud: The Self-portraits @ The Royal Academy of Arts
From the first teaser trailers, the internet has been sinking its claws into Cats. Critics slammed the film as disturbing, confusing and bizarre, yet those descriptors evoke the very essence of the musical. Continue reading Review: Cats
Build it. Break it. Build it, break it.
I exercise control in the small mannerisms I have adopted over the years. The minor, domestic cogs of my life, turning in perfect succession. Succinct, and ritually executed. These are the private domains of my psyche, the charts and the crosses, the changing of bed linen and the calculated hoovering of square spaces. Each chart is built of boxes, and each room possesses borders. The hoover head stops at skirting boards. Continue reading The Life Chronicles: Charge and Control
Movie entertainment was initially designed to be watched together as an audience – the first Hollywood movies were shown exclusively at movie theatres or Vaudevilles in the US as a mass culture and had the ability to bring together a nation. From the awe and attraction of ‘It Girl’ Clara Bow to Charlie Chaplin’s hilarity, Early Cinema appealed to everyone from American families to immigrants who could understand the silent films. Continue reading The Power of TV at Christmas
Like many, I too feel the impulse to submit to the cultural convention of a New Year’s resolution (or multiple, if you’re like me). It is in recognition that I must need annual modification or improvement; I am like an appliance that needs to be vetted or a computer which needs a virus check and at the end of every year that check proves problematic. The duration of the next year is all about ironing out the edges, papering over the cracks, concealing the imperfections and trying to maintain a stable level of maturity (no wonder this is a yearly task). New Year’s resolutions are a testament to us never being satisfied with ourselves; it’s an annual self-intervention, and, more importantly, it seems ridiculous to set all our hopes, ambitions, modifications and adjustments within the time slot of a year. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I truly know that I cannot alter all my habits and questionable behaviour in a year – I need the whole decade for that. Continue reading New Year, Same Me: The Risk of Resolutions
New Year’s Eve is always a time for parties, and this year is especially noteworthy as we will be seeing the 20’s in, and might crave the escapist decadence of the 1920’s. So, dust off your best clothes – as these cocktails demand the suave elegance of a 20’s soiree – pour yourself a drink and enjoy. In this party spirit, these drinks follow the course of the night. Continue reading Cocktails to See the ’20s Back In.
“Dear Evan Hansen,
Today is going to be a good day and here’s why…”
After winning six Tony Awards in 2017, a West End run for Dear Evan Hansen became a highly anticipated inevitability – even more so because it’s a creation of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the minds behind La La Land and The Greatest Showman. The show grapples with teen suicide and mental health by following Evan Hansen, a lonely high-schooler with (nearly) crippling social anxiety, whose bully, Connor Murphy, kills himself. Through unfortunate coincidence, Evan is caught up in the aftermath when Murphy’s parents are convinced he was their son’s best friend. He falls into perpetuating and expanding this fabrication of friendship as he grows closer to the family, goes viral online, and his dreams start to come true. But with everything built on the world wide web of lies, can Evan handle it? Continue reading Review: Dear Evan Hansen @ Noël Coward Theatre, West End
“A confusing combination of giddy childhood excitement and disappointed resignation” is how I described The Rise of Skywalker as we left the theatre at 2.30 AM. I had decided that an eight-hour triple bill would be the only worthy cinematic environment in which to conclude my lifelong journey with the Skywalkers, and honestly I did have a great time. As a Star Wars purist, the new trilogy had never really been my cup of tea, but the final instalment was an enjoyable, exciting film to watch. The film was as beautiful as ever, with interesting character developments and a well-navigated farewell to Carrie Fisher. I really enjoyed the continued exploration of Kylo Ren, and this final film has cemented him as one of the most intriguing, multi-faceted characters of the Star Wars universe. Not only this, but the dynamic between Kylo Ren and Rey which was so interesting in The Last Jedi is further explored with emotional depth and maturity, although ending on a rather strange note. Continue reading Review: The Rise of Skywalker
From bold typography exhibiting confidence, to delicate minimalism, the interplay between image, colour and type are arranged in design to celebrate a book. While it is important not to judge a text solely by its cover, our preconceptions often originate from the visuals we see on a book. But covers provide more than this; they are something to physically hold in your hand and in this sense, they form a part of the association and experience of reading a text. The best covers emulate a narrative in original and often powerful ways. Here is a list of some of the most striking book covers I have come across in the 2010s. Continue reading The Best Book Covers of the Decade
Christmas is a time of festivities and, as people tend to be celebrating at home, it is also a time for homemade cocktails! Most of these need three ingredients or fewer, and are all simple to prepare.
Continue reading It’s BeGINning to look a lot like Christmas Cocktails
Cavetown @ The Fleece, Bristol, 10/12/19
For any of you who don’t know, Cavetown (aka Robin Skinner) started making music on YouTube in 2012, singing a mix of ukulele covers and original songs from his bedroom. Now, at the age of 21, not only does he have over a million subscribers on his YouTube channel, but he has also self-released three studio albums and amassed nearly three million monthly listeners on Spotify. That means, when we arrived at his gig 20 minutes before doors opened, the queue to get in already snaked around the building and down the street (the YouTube cult is committed, and kind of terrifying…). Luckily, after a little too long standing in the rain, which the wind was helpfully blowing into our faces, we managed to get in just as the first support act was beginning their set and wiggle our way towards the front. Continue reading Review: Cavetown @ The Fleece
Until recently, all that I knew about the plot of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew was what I had seen in 10 Things I Hate About You: the frosty, hostile Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) softens when she accidentally falls for the slightly intimidating Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger). On my way to London, to see this production I felt reasonably excited by the prospect of watching the original play. The idea of going to see a performance at the Barbican over the Christmas period sounds enticing – especially when it is to watch something as cultured as a Shakespeare play. Little did I know that I would not be so pleased afterwards. Continue reading Review: The Taming of the Shrew @ The Barbican
Mince pies might seem too much of a faff to bother making at home, but once you can make shortcrust pastry they are actually rather simple. They will also be far better than even the fancier shop-bought ones, which tend to have overly sweet crumbly pastry more akin to shortbread than pastry. Plus, the dried fruit in mincemeat clearly counts as one of your five a day, right? Continue reading Classic Mince Pies Recipe
Pig & Pickle is an odd pub to be reviewing. Although I loved my visit there, it is too far from normal student areas to be worth mentioning to all but the most dedicated drinkers, but to humour those and anyone who happens to live out that way, let me say it ranks in my top 3 Exeter pubs. I ended up there because one night I was in another pub and got chatting to people including a very kind Swedish academic, who was buying beers for us all to share, and the owner of Pig & Pickle, Steve. And so, plans were made to meet again at that pub in the centre of town and get a taxi out to Pig & Pickle to see just how good it was. Continue reading The Bar Review: Pig & Pickle
For many of us, the 2010s were one of the biggest transitional periods of our lives – like the 70s and 80s were to our parents, the 2010s will be our glory years. But what will we remember? Will it be the Kardashians, Trump, the Royals, bush fires, Netflix? Here are just a few things that characterised our decade… Continue reading Iconic Pop Culture of the 2010s
The exhibition runs at the British Museum until 26 January 2020 (£12 for student concessions).
If you happen to be in London over the Christmas break, I would really recommend making a trip to this exhibition. The exhibition was laid out skilfully as you would expect from the British Museum, yet it is still worth carefully choosing your time to attend. Ideally go early or late so you have a chance to get close to the artefacts and are able to double back and see things in light of later objects. Some of the first things you see are drawings of Ottoman costumes which still have the vivacity of a contemporary sketch by a designer. These drawings work in brilliant concord with the later portraits. These draw on Ottoman models or are drawn from life. One particular portrait which stood out to me was of Sir Robert Sherley, by Anthony van Dyck, which shows an Elizabethan gentleman who was also the envoy to the Papal court for Shah Abbas I of Persia. As such you can see how complex identity can be and how fashion, as a form of art, expresses culture and social affiliations. Continue reading Review: ‘Inspired By The East: how the Islamic world influenced western art’ @ the British Museum
It’s that time of year again – the Golden Globe Awards. Now, in the film-making industry this should be a time for excitement and celebration. However, with the recent release of the Golden Globe nominations, it is clear that talented women behind the camera continue to find their creative voices silenced and their work undermined and shut out. It is nearly 2020, a new decade, and yet there are still no females nominated for Best Screenplay or for Best Direction Awards. Stacy Smith, the founder of USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiate stated that the Golden Globes is limited in its ‘lopsided view of talent that fosters the longevity of male directors over their female peers’. Hollywood is overwhelmingly a male sector, and with these nominations, it seems that the Golden Globes’ objective is to perpetuate that. Continue reading A Man’s World? Women Snubbed Once Again at Golden Globe Awards
‘The Races’ by Sports Team
Always erratic but fun, Sports Team provide another indie track that you want to jump along to.
Distortion from the electric guitars and a strong drum part gives them their distinct 90s indie sound, and brings hope of a post-punk revival. I’ve never been to the races but the man they sing about sound like the archetypes I’ve always assumed go to the races (‘He’ll never buy a drink but he’ll let you know he can’).
Featured on Vevo’s ‘DSCVR Artists to Watch 2020’, the high energy of the song emanates through frontman Alex Rice’s performance. Very Mick Jagger and Jarvis Cocker-esque. Known for lively and chaotic dancing, Sports Team always put on a phenomenal show; undoubtedly ‘The Races’ will be incredible live. Continue reading Singles’ Round-Up
For as long as I can remember, my periods have hurt; less when they are regular, more when I am stressed, an almost intolerable amount when they are irregular AND I’m stressed. Before I discovered Feminax, which has been a lifesaver over the past couple of years and often the only thing that makes any difference at all, I carried out extensive research (both online and among my friends) to try and discover what the best methods for dealing with period pain are. For me, the most effective natural remedies turned out to be two principle things: heat (whether this be hot water bottles, sitting in the bath for extended periods of time, or sipping hot drinks) and distraction – usually in the form of some calming music or my favourite TV show. Now that I know what works for me – a combination of painkillers and preparation for when the pain does strike – I don’t dread my monthly cycle as much as I used to. Whatever your go-to solution is, or becomes, period pain should never stop you from getting on with your everyday life and if you start to find that it does, never be afraid to ask for help or be open about the issues it may be causing you. Continue reading Dealing with Period Pain
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
A delightful, magical, and charming rendition of the timeless children’s book to warm every audience member’s heart this festive season.
When I went to see Quirk Theatre’s adaptation of Margery Williams’ classic children’s book, The Velveteen Rabbit, I must admit that I was dubious and had a few questions. In particular, how was this cast going to convey and embody the actions and emotions of a stuffed rabbit? However, Quirk Theatre quashed all my doubts and left me yearning to re-read the charming children’s book in order to re-live their heartwarming production of the story. Continue reading Review: Quirk Theatre’s ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ @ Exeter Phoenix
It is late December in a pub in Dublin. Poised behind the bar, a barmaid watches her customers buzz between velvet bar stools, and neglected coats. There is a plastic clock on the wall behind her, as she waits posted in front of the array of liquors, spirits and bottles of wine. The bottles are lazily draped in pound-store tinsel. Pine needles rest upon the floor with a certain authority; the endless cycle of hoovering is no match for the green pins. The air outside turns cheeks pink and skin chapped. The bar has become a haven for restless sets of boots, and men’s frozen fingertips. A sign reads, ‘Our mulled cider is a must’. Drawing in a deep breath, she marks the beginning of her shift upon the shiny surface of the clock. Continue reading The Life Chronicles: Bar Flies
Each year, more than two-thirds of graduates with degrees in media are female, and yet the media industry is just one-third women, a number that only decreases for women of colour. The ‘personal essay boom’ of the early 2000s seemed to be a viable way for women to make their voices heard on a public platform, writing on subjects that were authentic and relatable, but often exposing and intimate. Personal essays cry out for identification and connection, but what authors sometimes experienced was distancing and shame. Should women feel like they must bare their souls in order to have their voice heard, and what can be done to tackle inequalities that might be fuelled by this? Continue reading How can the Journalism Industry Respect the Personal Essay?
Climate Change Theatre Action is a series of worldwide readings and performances of short climate change plays with the intention of raising awareness through a new platform. The performance promised readings of short plays focusing on climate change by a panel of climate scientists from the Met Office and the University of Exeter, in partnership with Agile Rabbit. Continue reading Review: CLIMATE CHANGE THEATRE ACTION @ Exeter Phoenix
There’s probably nothing better than curling up on the comfiest living room chair, full of turkey and mince pies, with Christmas music playing faintly in the background and wrapping strewn all over the floor, and a book you’ve been given for Christmas earlier that same morning. Continue reading Books Perfect for Christmas Gift-giving
Now in its tenth year, the Exeter Poetry Slam gathers twelve of the best poetic performers from across the South West and whittles them down to one winner after three intense knock-out rounds. I had the pleasure of going to watch it at the Exeter Phoenix, and left feeling a renewed passion for slam poetry, having been a keen fan of the form for years. Nights like this weren’t just designed for Gen-Zers like me, raised on Olivia Gatwood and Button Poetry, however – this was truly an event for everyone, young and old, poetry fans and those new to the art (apart from Tories, who, had any actually been in attendance, would have been slammed to the point of no return, such was the passion of the poets talking about inequality). Continue reading Review: The 10th Annual Exeter Poetry Slam @ Exeter Phoenix
Having only recently started listening to No Hot Ashes’ music, I had perhaps strangely high expectations for this gig. The band’s almost indescribable sound is captivating, seemingly mixing funk instrumentals with the forceful vocals of punk, and something I knew would be even more impressive live.
The night started with two support acts, Harry Mason and Paradigm, who managed to breathe some life into the otherwise unfortunately sparse venue, certainly catching the attention of the people who did attend. However, with the introduction of No Hot Ashes to the stage, people seem to come out of nowhere to gather a fairly decent crowd for an early evening midweek gig. Continue reading Review: No Hot Ashes @ Exeter Cavern
A Who-Dun-It for the Modern Age It’s fair to say that Rian Johnson has not had the easiest last few years. Before December 2017 Johnson was no doubt in dreamland, having been given the opportunity to write and direct the latest instalment in the Star Wars franchise – Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. However, following its release an onslaught of polarising feedback permeated social media … Continue reading Frost on Film: Knives Out
In light of the upcoming General Election tomorrow, celebrities and influencers have filled their social media platforms with messages encouraging young people to register to vote, with some even taking to social media to publicly pledge allegiance with certain political parties. But how useful is this for young people voting?
As we find ourselves firmly in the age of influencers, the point where social media intersects with politics is naturally a grey area. During the last general election in June 2017, rapper Stormzy joined Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, during his campaign. Again this year, he has taken to Instagram to encourage “every single person who reads this to go and register to vote.” Obtaining nearly 300,000 likes and broadcast to a following of 2.6 million people, his post triggered a spike of 351,000 people registering to vote that evening. Continue reading Celebrity Influence on Young People’s Voting Behaviour
As the weather starts to get colder and the evenings get darker the desire for a festive drink grows stronger. But, what are the best places in Exeter to satisfy your Christmas beverage cravings? Continue reading Festive Drinks in Exeter Ranked
Two days after the Queen died, they sent for me. I was sixteen. Barely more than a child. Father and Mother could do nothing. News of my supposed beauty had reached the capitol, so they came, they saw me, and they took me. Dressed in a great fur coat and a long, velvet dress trimmed with white ermine, I was bundled into a carriage and never saw home again. Mother and Father’s faces grew distant, like clouds, until they were as indistinct as clouds, and then they were gone. Continue reading Poisoned
When FKA twigs released ‘cellophane’, the lead single from her new album MAGDALENE in April, I was blown away by how such a beautifully minimal song was able to convey such intense vulnerability. With the accompanying music video in which twigs performs a pole dancing routine before falling into an underworld, the overall effect shows just how powerful she is; both mentally and physically. Andrew Thomas Huang, the director of the music video, referenced the surgery which twigs underwent to remove fibroid tumours prior to working on the new album as inspiring her to learn how to pole dance. Knowing that she only started to learn how to perform on the pole a year before filming the music video, the intensity expressed becomes even more intoxicating and emotional.
Continue reading Review: MAGDALENE by FKA twigs
Fashion and social work are two things you don’t normally see talked about in the same
sentence. Nonetheless, when looking deeper you can see that of the various caring
professions, social work is one of the few without a set dress code. So, on the frontline of
social work what does fashion and appearance actually look like? Continue reading Fashion on the Frontline: Clothing in Social Work
‘Tis the season to be poor, fellow students! Inevitably, Christmas is a very expensive time of year. There are so many people to buy for and, as a student, it’s difficult to get your nearest and dearest the wonderful presents you feel they deserve. Then there’s the Secret Santas. When it comes to Secret Santas, there are many ways you can find affordable gifts. Often, they are more about the banter than offering a long-lasting, tear-jerking gift. Here are some ideas if you are looking for some last minute inspiration! Continue reading It’s the Thought that Counts: Low-Cost Secret Santa Inspiration
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Present Laughter follows a few days in the life of Garry Essendine, an esteemed stage actor, just before he embarks on a tour of Africa. As the play progresses, it delves into Garry’s ego, penchant for one-night stands with bright young things, and precarious relationships with his nearest and dearest – an ex-wife, a beleaguered secretary, and friends and business partners Morris and Henry – all explored with equally humorous and heart-breaking results. The play debuted in 1942 and was one of Noel Coward’s best-known plays, earning great praise from critics and the public alike. Many have said that the character of Garry Essendine is a self-portrait – Coward was known as ‘the original pop star’ and had to navigate the highs and lows of celebrity life himself. The 2019 revival’s director, Andy Warchus, chose to stay true to Coward’s script, apart from two key gender swaps: ‘Henry’ becomes ‘Helen’, and his wife becomes a husband. This is key in the way that the relationships between characters play out, and, arguably, more accurately reflects Coward’s character and original intention for the script, as he himself was closeted during his lifetime. Continue reading Review: NT Live ‘Present Laughter’
Mullets originally became popular in the 80s with people seeking a “business in the front, party in the back” hairstyle. However, in the 90s there was a decline of people wanting to rock the mullet, leaving it in the gutter completely in the noughties, with no one particularly keen to jump on the mullet bandwagon. Today, the style is making a comeback. Continue reading Exeter Uni Takes on The Mullet
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Love’s Labour’s Lost, a poetic story of four couples, is a rarely performed gem by Shakespeare. I especially have a soft spot for the character of Berwone whose romantic iambic pentameter burrowed their way into my heart quite a few years ago. This production was able to adapt the story successfully by keeping the central point relevant, and making the humour and wit punchy. Continue reading Review: Exeter University’s Shakespeare Company’s ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’
A chance to get all dressed up and attend the Exeter University Great Hall, alive with lights, jazzy tunes and spectacular dance numbers – what more could you want from a Monday evening? The Exeter University Ballroom and Latin Society and Jazz Orchestra Showcase promised to be “an unforgettable journey through Hollywood classics” and it did not disappoint. The atmosphere was filled with energy and expectation as audience members began to arrive and dancers milled around in their costumes for the opening number. The private bar and black-tie dress code added to the event’s glamour, with some people really committing in their DJs and posh frocks. My housemates and I certainly appreciated the opportunity to get out our classy velvet dresses without a £40 ball ticket usually characteristic of a Uni black-tie event! Continue reading Review: Showcase- Jazz Orchestra and Ballroom & Latin Society
Pro-democracy protests have gripped Hong Kong since June. These protests initially began in opposition against a bill which proposed extradition to mainland China. While this bill was withdrawn in September, protests have continued with broader calls for democracy and police accountability. These protests fall within Hong Kong’s complex history, formerly a British colony until 1997 and now technically part of China. Hong Kong operates within the “one country, two systems” structure, meaning that Hong Kong’s people experience greater rights and freedoms than in China. Last week, following months of increasingly violent protests and clashes with police, local council elections in Hong Kong showed overwhelming support for pro-democracy movements, with the election of pro-democracy councillors in 17 out of the 18 districts. Continue reading Living Through Hong Kong’s Protests: The International Student Perspective
The perfect gift this Christmas
Explore, discover and support Exeter, city of independents.
The InExeter Independent Gift Card is the perfect gift for Christmas. With a choice of over 70 independent businesses to spend the card in, it is a great way to explore Exeter’s best loved indie cafes, restaurants, artisan producers, hairdressers, jewellers, homeware and fashion shops, makers and crafters. With so much choice it really is the *gift of all gifts* for someone special this festive season. Continue reading The Perfect Gift This Christmas: InExeter Independent Gift Card