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Review: Sea Wall

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Simon Stephens’ Sea Wall is raw and devastating. This one-man play begins lightly, Alex (Andrew Scott) chatting amiably about his father-in-law, holidays in the South of France, and his deep affection for his wife and daughter. Yet, strung through this narrative is a tension that tightens as the story unfolds. The audience are constantly on edge, watching as Alex circles closer and closer to the painful story aching at the play’s centre. Continue reading Review: Sea Wall

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Review: Never Have I Ever

**SPOILERS AHEAD** Netflix’s new coming-of-age show Never Have I Ever ticks all the boxes for a series of its genre. It’s funny, sweet and charming, with fifteen-year-old protagonist Devi coming across as lovable and, at times, frustrating. We empathise with her and her problems, mostly grieving for her father, struggling with bullies at school, pressure from her family, and making big mistakes, all with typical teenage … Continue reading Review: Never Have I Ever

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Living for Killing Eve: Ep.6 – End of Game

**SPOILERS AHEAD** ‘End of Game’ opens on Eve visiting Niko in hospital, only to be told to “piss off forever,” before deliberating with Kenny’s ex-colleagues over the murder attempt, which she is adamant was not Villanelle and connects to Dasha, whom she pays a visit. Speaking of, Villanelle, having severed all ties to her biological family in the previous episode, seems to turn her attention … Continue reading Living for Killing Eve: Ep.6 – End of Game

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The Life Chronicles: I Don’t Like Cider

I don’t always choose red wine. Red wine sinks, and makes a barrel of my body. It turns my purple eyelids heavy, and my pink tongue, purple. I drink a glass in the garden and watch the cracks in the patio or the pegs on the line: the ones that are so old that opening breaks them, belonging to tenants long-gone.
Sometimes white wine wins. It is strong and acidic, demanding the drinker to stay alert. White wine matches white blossoms, which match dinner in the garden, which matches white wine. Pollen tickles the inside of the nose and bees hum upon a bed of weeds, the one littered with dead bluebells. Continue reading The Life Chronicles: I Don’t Like Cider

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i just woke up from the worst night of my life. i am twenty years old. i live in a city called Riverside, another city in the west. i am not from here. i come from Africa, the eastern part of Ethiopia, if you must know. i am here for school, attending college. and last night, last night was the darkest of nights for me. i am most certain the devil visited me. it hugged, kissed and did not let me sleep until my whole self gave up to its unsolicited caress. somethings are true. fear, anxiety, devil, evil, these things are true. they are for everyone in some ways, but until they happen to you, it is easy to believe they are not true. some crazed minds made them up to scare others. because until they happen to you for real, the idea of thinking about them is fun, enjoyable, giggly. but not last night. not when my lonely room shrunk to six inches, and in the midst of gasping for breath, in the midst of my extreme exhaustion, i was still keeping a tab on my eyes not to close themselves – because i did not trust them anymore. that i would not wake up if i let them shut. that the devil, in its grotesque gaze, was waiting for me to make this mistake for a split second, so it manifests itself all over my naked body in winter – sweating in winter, in a cold room.
Continue reading

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Reading Corner: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Recently, I read, and loved, Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. It’s uplifting, heartbreaking and downright genius. Eleanor Oliphant’s mind is complex and contradictory: simultaneously full of confusion and certainty, denial and acceptance, darkness and light. She evolves as the novel progresses, and it’s encouraging to see a character with such a distorted view of both life and of herself change in a positive way and confront her past and her fears. Continue reading Reading Corner: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

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Self-Isolation, Sex Work, and Stigma

With lockdown seeming to stretch on indefinitely, the nation has been coming together in common interests and activities, as everybody but key workers have been confined to their homes. Amongst this, a few key activities have stood out, from sharing instagrams of home baking to taking part in Joe Wick’s PE classes and, less wholesomely, pornography. Isolated from partners and dates, it’s no surprise that an increase in consumption of pornography has occurred. According to Pornhub’s own analytics, traffic increased by 18.5% on the 24th of March “when it was announced that Pornhub’s Premium service would be free to all visitors worldwide for one month to encourage people to stay at home and help flatten the curve of new Covid-19 cases.” Continue reading Self-Isolation, Sex Work, and Stigma

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Review: Normal People

Sometimes, a book comes along that makes you feel like you’ve been uprooted and transposed into the lives of the characters it’s following. Normal People, for me, was just like that. I wept throughout, and stayed up multiple nights to finish it, fully engrossed in the lives of Connell and Marianne. When I heard about the BBC adaptation, the first emotion I felt was nervousness. So many books I’ve adored have been adapted, to varying degrees of success, and I didn’t want Normal People to be another Percy Jackson (sorry Logan Lerman). In fact, I felt so much trepidation surrounding the series that I was scared to even press play on the first episode. To my relief, it delivered – and was even more beautiful than I could have imagined.   Continue reading Review: Normal People

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Review: National Theatre at Home: Frankenstein

A collection of 3,500 light bulbs hang above the audience, flashing all at once, as electronic static buzzes persistently. A spherical, beige screen – veiny, alien, womb-like – stands alone on the stage, until suddenly a hand bursts through it. Even for a virtual viewer, there is a sensory overload of light and sound as the Creature falls hard on the floor. It convulses and squirms, wet and barely conscious, twitching like a fish out of water. In silence, we watch it attempt to move, adjusting to its limbs as if paralysed. Continue reading Review: National Theatre at Home: Frankenstein

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Living for Killing Eve: Ep. 4 – Still Got It

‘Still Got It’ is as dark as it is captivating. It opens on Niko delivering bread to villagers in his native Poland having left Eve and the UK behind. Obviously, this being Killing Eve, the peace doesn’t last, and Nico is quickly reminded of reality with Eve’s constant messaging, which he ignores. Eve herself is haunted and conflicted. She has taken to sleeping in the Bitter Pill office as opposed to her flat, presumably due to Villanelle’s latest ‘gift’. Dejected and guilt-ridden, she has a few crotchety interactions with Kenny’s ex co-workers before receiving yet another reminder that Villanelle is still fixated on her: a birthday cake in the shape of a red bus. Continue reading Living for Killing Eve: Ep. 4 – Still Got It

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Review: Trigonometry

It “makes a great case for the enriching power of queerness to open up paths we never thought we could tread.”

It turns out good television can be like comfort food. Lockdown so far has been a lot of eating out of boredom and staring mindlessly between screens, but each episode of BBC’s new eight-part drama was a home-made meal and I devoured it. Continue reading Review: Trigonometry

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Review: National Theatre at Home: Twelfth Night

From director Simon Godwin comes a colourful, chaotic frenzy of a Twelfth Night that is choc-a-bloc with laughs, love, music and anguish. As part of the National Theatre at Home’s free YouTube streaming of shows, this week we are treated to Godwin’s vision of the foolish antics of Shakespeare’s tortured misfits and loveable rogues.

If you aren’t familiar with Twelfth Night, it is a classic Shakespeare comedy about mistaken identity. Sebastian and Viola are shipwrecked on the island of Illyria, and Viola assumes her brother’s identity, thinking he is dead. However, things don’t go smoothly for her when she gets caught in a love triangle with the Duke Orsino and Olivia, doting on him while Olivia dotes as much on her. Continue reading Review: National Theatre at Home: Twelfth Night

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Living for Killing Eve: Ep. 3 – Meetings Have Biscuits

Series three of Killing Eve continues this week with the release of episode three, ‘Meetings Have Biscuits’. We begin with Villanelle tuning an old piano in an exquisitely grand home in Andalusia, communicating effortlessly in yet another language, Spanish. If this opening scene wasn’t already typical of Killing Eve, the audience is then treated to not one, but two swift, clinical, and brutal murders. And so, just like that, Villanelle is back for another week. Continue reading Living for Killing Eve: Ep. 3 – Meetings Have Biscuits

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Virtual Worship in Lockdown: The Technological Future for Faith Groups

Lockdown during the Covid-19 crisis has had an inevitable impact on several facets of people’s life. From working to hobbies, we are all figuring out how to adapt important areas of our lives. One of these impacts is on our spiritual lives too, and has been felt on a global scale. Internet searches for the word ‘prayer’ have surged during the pandemic, as questions around spirituality arise during times of difficulty. From local to international scales, religious groups, organisations, and leaders are navigating a drastic reconsideration of how to continue their religious practices in the midst of this never-seen-before situation. Spring is a particularly active time in many religious groups’ calendars, and significant celebrations and religious events have undergone rapid transformations. Continue reading Virtual Worship in Lockdown: The Technological Future for Faith Groups

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Reading Corner: Bitter Lemons by Lawrence Durrell

One benefit to lockdown (for me especially as I am alone in my student house still) is having time to read undistracted meaning I can enjoy reading more leisurely. It is especially useful for starting books that are written almost like filigree lace and take time to unpick. Lawrence Durrell’s work is perfect for this – I can think of few other writers that cause me to check a dictionary in delight at seeing words new to me. His close focus on style requires the reader to self-indulgently luxuriate their way through his books – and now stuck inside we can. In this way, something like the Alexandria Quartet could keep me occupied for most of lockdown in blissful escapism, yet it lacks the pertinence of Bitter Lemons. Continue reading Reading Corner: Bitter Lemons by Lawrence Durrell

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Acknowledging Uncertainty: How Coronavirus has Changed the Way We Plan For the Future

Our lives are mapped around referential points. We all have calendars littered with birthdays, exams, parties, graduation ceremonies, interviews, visits to friends, events, plays, holidays, gigs. None of us live purely spontaneously. For decades modern life has functioned on the presumption that imposing order onto our immediate futures will make us more productive, prompt and predictable. Life is prearranged invisibly around us, marked by the constant promises of the near future, what’s coming next, what will I be doing tomorrow? Continue reading Acknowledging Uncertainty: How Coronavirus has Changed the Way We Plan For the Future

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‘Too Hot to Handle’ Is the Best Heteronormative Dating Show You’ll Watch in Quarantine

**SPOILERS AHEAD** Forget Love is Blind and Love Island, Too Hot to Handle is the next big TV show for watching a group of attractive and low to moderately intelligent people badly flirt and eventually catch on with each other. The premise follows a group of ten people (which inevitably grows) who initially believe they are in for a more traditional Ex on the Beach … Continue reading ‘Too Hot to Handle’ Is the Best Heteronormative Dating Show You’ll Watch in Quarantine

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My Quarantine Playlist: Morning Bops

What are mornings? What is time? Should I bother getting out of bed, or have I fused with my duvet? If, like me, you’re finding mornings a little pointless and frankly insulting, here are some chilled out motivational tracks. Not so upbeat that you’ll feel ready to run that 5k your mate just tagged you in, but gently rousing. Songs to make toast to.     Continue reading My Quarantine Playlist: Morning Bops

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Review: Vivarium

**SPOILERS AHEAD** Do you already have cabin fever? Are you sick of your siblings? This film will not help.  Nothing gruesome or startling occurs in this thriller, but there is a ghastliness to it.  A couple, Gemma and Tom (Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg), follow a salesman into an eerie housing estate. The houses, all empty, look artificial like a nightmarish video game. The estate … Continue reading Review: Vivarium

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Living for Killing Eve: Ep. 2 – Management Sucks

The second instalment of the third season sees many fan-favourites reunite in a tense and gripping episode. Written by Anna Jordan, it opens on a grim scene, in which Eve, Carolyn and Konstantin all attend Kenny’s funeral. Carolyn’s daughter (Gemma Wheelan) also appears, inisisting that her mother take time to process her loss, much to Carolyn’s chagrin. Eve takes a dislike to one of Kenny’s ex-colleagues, and, while drunk, shouts at Carolyn before leaving early. Oh’s portrayal of Eve’s downward spiral and the loss of control she has over her life, having now lost her closest remaining friend, is heartbreaking, complimented by Fiona Shaw’s flawless performance as the grieving Carolyn. She is far less stoic than usual, but maintains some of her eccentricities. Continue reading Living for Killing Eve: Ep. 2 – Management Sucks

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Adjusting To The New Normal: Home Life

It has been nearly four weeks since the beginning of lockdown conditions. Yet it is indisputably important to become hermits of our home at this time – not everyone is invincible to the invisibility of the virus. It’s a necessary collective effort and, really, few outcomes are worse when fighting a national health issue than staying indoors. It is restricting our daily lives, yes – but at the cost of extending the lives of those most vulnerable in our society. Continue reading Adjusting To The New Normal: Home Life

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My Culture Comforts: Life of the Party by Olivia Gatwood

Poetry has the power to put indescribable feelings into words. At the moment, many of us are uncertain, stressed and lost, but I’ve found it really helpful to retreat to the familiar. In this case, Olivia Gatwood’s 2019 collection, Life of the Party. Life of the Party is an intense, candid reflection on the poet’s relationship with girlhood and womanhood. Many of the pieces started … Continue reading My Culture Comforts: Life of the Party by Olivia Gatwood

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Living for Killing Eve: Ep. 1 – Slowly Slowly Catchy Monkey

‘Slowly Slowly Catchy Monkey’ marks the start of Suzanne Heathcote’s time as showrunner, and it does not disappoint. The episode opens with a dreary Soviet flashback in which a young girl, Dasha, brutally murders her boyfriend. We then cut to the titles and the present day, in which Villanelle has moved to Barcelona and, surprisingly, is getting married. Of course, Villanelle isn’t the marrying type, and it’s unsurprising when her toast falls short, or when the dancing is disrupted by an arrival from her past, causing the entire wedding to descend into chaos. Continue reading Living for Killing Eve: Ep. 1 – Slowly Slowly Catchy Monkey

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Review: A Song for Our Daughter by Laura Marling

There’s something about Laura Marling’s bucolic folk sound and sharp British accent that makes listening to her music feel so personal, so homey, and yet provides a world to escape into. She’s even commented herself on her “uncanny” sound, and, as a three-time Mercury Prize nominee in the twelve years she’s been active, you’d think she’d know a thing or two.

I’ve been a fan of Marling’s music since her Short Movie era in 2015, although I didn’t realise that her debut album, Alas, I Cannot Swim, was released in 2008 when she was only eighteen! Continue reading Review: A Song for Our Daughter by Laura Marling

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Finding the Joy in the Mundane

With the outbreak of COVID-19, the world was forced into reactionary mode. Measures of varying degrees took place around the globe. The UK is now in lockdown, with no knowledge of when measures will be alleviated. As a result, an influx of articles and social media posts occurred, all in the name of ‘making the most’ of this period and being as productive as possible. Continue reading Finding the Joy in the Mundane

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In The Pod: Shagged Married Annoyed

Having never really listened to podcasts before, I decided recently to start listening to Shagged, Married, Annoyed by Chris and Rosie Ramsey, and, frankly, I am so glad I did. This podcast is primarily based around relationships and the things that annoy you about your other half. Even though I may not be married with a child, it is still very relatable. Continue reading In The Pod: Shagged Married Annoyed

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Coming Home: The Unexpected End to My Year Abroad

On the 11th of March the sun was shining in Aarhus and I’d spent the afternoon with my friend Taran, wandering around the deer park and being true Brits abroad eating fish and chips at Aarhus Street Food. It was a bitter-sweet afternoon, coming shortly after my friends and I had decided to cancel our upcoming travel plans to Vienna and Budapest, in the midst of what would soon become a global pandemic. Continue reading Coming Home: The Unexpected End to My Year Abroad

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Review: Dare Me

Once more I was lured in by the banner at the top of my Netflix flaunting a new series. This time it was Dare Me. On the surface it seemed to be a Riverdale-esque teen drama, centred around cheerleaders. Given that Riverdale is my guilty pleasure and being a member of the University’s Cheerleading and Gymnastics squads, I was inevitably drawn to the show. However, within the first episode it was clear that this series was both badly written and should certainly contain a trigger warning, given its appalling treatment of body image and eating disorders. The acting was generally poor, and the so-called cheerleading was even worse, and borderline laughable. The reckless treatment of mental health issues, as well as the bizarre plot, made me quickly realise I would not be recommending Dare Me to my lockdown-bound friends. Continue reading Review: Dare Me

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Do I Have to Have a Productive Pandemic?

Humans are social beings, and even as an introvert, being trapped with the same three faces for an indefinite sentence is a little overwhelming.  Just as the weather was heating up and you were planning on a pitcher at the Impy, your social life was suddenly cut short. Now you’re muffling through a scarf to say hi to passers-by and walking round them like you … Continue reading Do I Have to Have a Productive Pandemic?

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Reading Corner: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

We all have those books that have sat on our shelves for the longest time, telling ourselves that “I just don’t have time to read it” or “I wouldn’t be able to give it all my attention.” However, now that most of us are facing a lot of time indoors, there is the perfect excuse to finally get to those books that we’ve been putting off. Continue reading Reading Corner: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

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When This is All Over: Pub Crawl

When this is over, I’m heading on a pub crawl across Exeter with my dearest friends before we leave Uni for good. A rough list of 16 pubs already exits, and we’re preparing to get completely plastered. At each pub, I’ll give a speech about why I love them, accompanied by the biggest hugs I can manage. There will be chaos, there will be nostalgia, and there will be terrible dancing. The night will end with a drunken dive into the River Exe (my goal since first year), with whoever is dumb/sloshed enough to join me. Continue reading When This is All Over: Pub Crawl

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My Culture Comforts: Nora Ephron Films

It’s no surprise that people have been using these past few weeks to productively catch up on (binge watch) all the TV shows and films they may not have previously had time for. However, especially with the future being so uncertain, it can also be nice to return to some past favourites. Over the past week, I have re-watched four of my top Nora Ephron films (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, Julie & Julia), each time remembering why I love her. A combination of Ephron’s phenomenal writing, upbeat soundtracks and of course a stellar cast (with Meg Ryan as a particular favourite), it’s hard not to find comfort in these classics. Continue reading My Culture Comforts: Nora Ephron Films

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Review: This Country

BBC Three comedy This Country may be the greatest show you’ve never seen – and I say this as someone who is an avid TV lover yet only truly discovered its brilliance in the last few weeks, as its third and final series was airing.  The mockumentary sitcom is penned by siblings Daisy May and Charlie Cooper, who themselves play cousins Kerry and Lee “Kurtan” … Continue reading Review: This Country

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In the Pod: Recommended Podcasts

In the midst of the current lockdown situation, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the wealth of uncertainty; and without much social interaction, isolation can start to feel, well quite isolating. So, as they form a large element within my own quarantine routine, I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite podcasts to hopefully brighten up those isolation blues. Continue reading In the Pod: Recommended Podcasts

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My Lockdown Watchlist

TV shows Tiger King – Netflix If you haven’t seen this yet, ask yourself why. Tiger King, from the same producers as the infamous Fyre Fest documentary, follows the eponymous ‘King’, Joe Exotic. He tries his best to juggle running a zoo in Oklahoma, a gubernatorial race, and a law suit from his arch-nemesis, big-cat conservationist and alleged husband-murderer Carole Baskin. Throw several polyamorous big-cat … Continue reading My Lockdown Watchlist

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Review: National Theatre at Home: Jane Eyre

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Sally Cookson’s adaptation of Jane Eyre seeks to enhance the progressive, feminist quality of Charlotte Bronte’s writing. Through physical theatre, evocative music and a fiery protagonist, this play strives to shift this classic love story into a bildungsroman. While slightly encumbered by its three-hour length and a depth of source material to untangle, this adaptation undeniably succeeds in bringing something new to well-trodden territory. Continue reading Review: National Theatre at Home: Jane Eyre

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Review: Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa

When Dua Lipa’s new album leaked, I decided to hold off from listening to it because, honestly, I was still listening to ‘Physical’ on repeat and thought I could hold out. BOY am I pleased I did. Future Nostalgia has cemented Dua Lipa’s position as one of my favourite women in pop. She has definitely not fallen to the curse of the sophomore album, receiving … Continue reading Review: Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa

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The Coming of Age Genre – More Like My Coming of Rage

Heads up – shattering of innocent dreams and cynicism ahead. Oh to be 14 again, I’ve just discovered The Smiths and was full of hope thinking everything would magic itself better. How wrong I was. Coming of age films have been staple of teenage culture in the modern era with filmmakers trying to capture the archetypal transition from a naïve youth to adulthood, complete with … Continue reading The Coming of Age Genre – More Like My Coming of Rage