From Somewhere, in Limbo

We’ve all been finding new ways to fill our time, or at least finding ourselves filling time with tasks that never really needed doing. High on the agenda for me this week was sorting through the piles of old notebooks and half-filled journals that previous versions of me once thought they’d fill.

Most of these books are filled with something between inane drivel and angst – the sort of thing that curls your toes when you wonder what on earth may have inspired the past you to put pen to coffee-stained page in that moment. But one particular book did stand out: a journal I’d started a decade ago, almost to the day, of a trip to Thailand that a 20-year-old me had taken.

It wasn’t the total juxtaposition of now and then that grabbed me though: the freedom of somebody on the cusp of adulthood truly experiencing the world for themselves for the first time, compared to a 30-year-old that had been locked inside the same four walls for five weeks. It was the exact similarity of where I am right now, to where I was right then, in my first entry of the journal:

“April 2nd, 2010 – On a plane somewhere above Iraq.

…I think we’ve been in the air for nearly five hours, but it doesn’t feel
like it at all. I’ve had an endless supply of movies and free drinks to keep
me going. It’s weird to think that directly below us is a country in
turmoil, and here we all are, happily filling our faces and numbing our

Ten years later, and I could be on that plane again, locked in time as the realities of the world pass by below me, existing only as abstract concepts brought to life by the news and new signage in supermarkets. The truth is, I’ve always enjoyed plane journeys, in spite of their obvious discomfort. There’s always been a strange sense of peace in the idea of quite literally being suspended above the world, somewhere in limbo.

See, on a plane, you exist in an almost quantum state of potential. Whilst you’re up there, there really isn’t a lot that you can do. During those rare hours, the outside world is no longer any of your business, and you are no business of it. As you’re passing helplessly through time-zones, time itself ceases to really matter. As you’re passing from one place to another, you can only ever be somewhere. When your only real responsibilities are to not kick the chair in front or cause chaos by attempting to leap out of the cabin door; you can, at last, breathe. In your new-found quantum state, you can take comfort in the fact that the world really does not revolve around you. You can do nothing but wait, and fill that time as best you know how.

Limbo is a place of waiting. A place of nowhere. A place to consider the above and the below; what was and what might be. And that’s where the attraction has always been for me. Perhaps I should feel guilty for wanting this lockdown to go on just a little longer while the real world outside struggles, just like that subtle pang of guilt I felt up there in the clouds a decade ago.

Theatre Review: Brighton Rock

Published by One&Other Creative | 23rd Feb 2018

Pilot Theatre and York Theatre Royal’s production of Brighton Rock has caused a bit of a buzz around York of late, with many fans of the novel keen to see how Bryony Lavery’s new adaptation would tackle the iconic text.

The answer comes fast as we’re plunged into the murky waters of the Brighton shore. Lavery has concentrated much of her attention on the contrasting of characters. We have Ida, played wonderfully by Gloria Onitiri as the moral backbone – tenacious and worldly and worlds apart from the easily influenced Rose – played by Sarah Middleton – who does a fantastic job of capturing the young girl’s naiveté. And then there’s Pinkie, the corrupt teen, caught in the mire, already lost and willing to bring down any in his path. Jacob James Beswick does a fantastic job of capturing Pinkie’s inner turmoil, whilst giving us hard-to-watch glimpses of the vicious evil that seems so desperate to escape him.

The three together are allowed to set-up the ongoing battle of morality, and the set-up works well. However, as the play progresses, it falls short of exploring the theological and moral message of Graham Greene’s novel. It’s as if we’ve been allowed to taste it, but forbidden from biting into the stick of rock dangled in-front of us.

Our lead actors are supported by a highly skilled, multi-rolling ensemble. The decision to have them as gang members, lurking on stage throughout as ill-meaning shadows, creates a thread of uneasiness that serves to unsettle and promise that threat is never far away. 

The staging of this play is quite frankly, awesome. A two-tier set modelled on Brighton Pier, and pin-sharp scene changes that are almost as tense as the on-stage action drag the audience into the coastal underworld. This, combined with Hannah Peel’s soundtrack – performed live on stage throughout – give the whole production an almost cinematic feel. It’s a perfect medley of set and sound that alone makes this production of Brighton Rock worth seeing. Add some exceptional choreography to the mix (look out for the staircase!) and you’ve got yourself some highly immersive theatre. 

My only wish would have been that we could’ve delved deeper. At times it felt as though too much had been glossed over, which risks leaving the audience underwhelmed as the lights come up. But that is always going to be the case with an ambitious adaptation such as this, and it was absolutely a risk worth taking.

Theatre Review: The River

Published by One&Other Creative | 28th April 2018

I’ll admit, I walked into Friargate Theatre last night with next to no knowledge of Jez Butterworth’s The River, or any of his other work for that matter. I had no expectations of what Wildgoose Theatre’s latest offering would be, other than an enigmatic mystery with a fishing theme.

As the lights came up, revealing the fantastic set built by director Andy Love himself, we were immediately transported to Butterworth’s cliffside cabin. The spell had begun, with the words of W.B. Yeats washing over us and adding to the magic.

The River takes us into the world of The Man (George Stagnall) – the owner of the aforementioned cabin who returns once a year on a moonless night to fish for his beloved sea trout. To his dismay, his new girlfriend, The Woman (Claire Morley), seems much less enthusiastic about the prospect of hunting for fish.

The anticipated enigma begins from this point, as The Man frantically calls the police in search of his missing girlfriend, only for her to appear in a surprising new form. To reveal more would be to ruin the enticing mystery of the play, but it’s absolutely one that must be experienced.

Andy Love has done a fantastic job of capturing what is quite clearly a beautifully crafted script, full of poetic lyricism and rich with deep, layered metaphor that few writers would be capable of carrying off. Every member of this small cast – including Anna Rogers and Amy Fincham as well as Stagnall and Morley – carry this off with such professional poise as to make it seem effortless. Every word delivered is savoured, and it is absolutely clear that Wildgoose Theatre’s take on The River has been a true labour of love, and the audience reaps the rewards of this in abundance. The true success of this play is in its’ ability to let everyone go home with their own unique interpretation, and I guarantee it’ll leave you pondering long after you’ve left the theatre.

It’s easy to throw about the “must-see” banner these days but I assure you, this production absolutely deserves that title. The River is undoubtedly one of the most beautifully crafted productions York has seen this year, and its’ only downside is the short run (this weekend only here in York, with another night in Leeds on 3 May).

Lost toys and broken wings

They placed them there.
Where they should never
have been.
Blind broken toys,

Crows can become doves,
under the right light.
Where moths swoop,
and swoon:
The summer’s death-kiss.
Where hate replaces

And the body
Impossible projections.
Where imagined potential
The truth,
of broken toys.

One fixed,
one forgotten:
Left dancing.
Alone with autumn’s butterflies.

Wicked Inventions | Discovery Science

Scriptwriter for Wicked Inventions, season’s 1, 2, 3 and 4.

This was a great series to write for, which involved researching the history of inventions including everything from jet engines to margarine! I’ve always loved projects such as these, which come with the added bonus of learning something new as I write.