Ruby Fischer

Arts Reporter

Page 2

Interview | Hidden Meanings with L.R. Vandy

By Ruby Fischer

The October Gallery

Black, green and copper.jpg

UNIQUE COMBINATIONS: (Left to right from top) Black, Green and Copper, Guardian, Red Dart, Red and Yellow; LR Vandy (centre) and (bottom) These
Women 02, 12, 09 and Superhero Cog Woman Courtesy of the Artist and October Gallery

LR VANDY stands at the centre of the October Gallery’s light-filled room, her brow furrowed at a sculpture on the wall beside her. It’s a two-metre long model sailing boat upended so that its black-and-green V-shaped hull, adorned with sleek copper chains, faces the middle of the room. With a deft hand, she tugs at a chain which has shifted out of place. The correction is imperceptible but she’s insistent: “If you look closely you’ll know, because it’s not symmetrical,” she tells me.

The sculpture Black, Green and Copper is just one of 19 in this latest
installation of Vandy’s signature Hull series, in which she...

Continue reading →

Live Music Review | The Mekons: Living up to reputation

By Ruby Fischer

100 Club

MEKONS 1.jpg

Legends: The Mekons at 100 Club Photo: Ilka Schlockermann

DESCENDING into the musty red glow of the 100 Club, you wouldn’t know you were walking the steps of music history. Wedged between a Boots and Anne Summers, the legendary club — with its haze, heat and smell of dust and sweaty leather — is just a sliver in the wall, its neon red sign the only hint of its glorious dissent from the couture buzz of Oxford Street. This is hallowed ground.

The pictures on the walls are of BB King, Muddy Waters, The Clash, Bo Diddley, The Horrors and The Rolling Stones and for the jostling fans waiting for The Mekons to hit the stage, there couldn’t be a more fitting venue to host “the only band that matters.”

Kicking off with the strident, swaggering drumbeat of Lawrence of California, the band launch into a ferocious set that revisits a few electrifying favourites...

Continue reading →

Theatre Review | The Crucible: A relentlessly contemporary interpretation

By Ruby Fischer
The Yard

Review The Crucible.jpeg

Stand-out Caoilfhionn Dunne as John Proctor Photo: Helen Murray

IT’S no surprise that, for its first ever revival of a classic, the Yard has gone with The Crucible. Though based on real events in Salem, Massachusetts, at the end of the 17th century, it’s got everything in terms of contemporary relevance — witch-hunts, fake news and fiendish women in a town brought to its knees by rumour and suspicion. So perhaps it’s not such a daring move for anyone hoping to connect with a 2019 audience.

This production certainly goes the extra mile to do so and to underscore the universality, all characters in the programme are listed as a witch.

The stage is full of front-facing chairs bearing their names and, as “A note about history” appears on a screen, the cast enter in modern dress to take
their seats. By the time they’ve launched into Miller’s famously exhaustive...

Continue reading →

Theatre Review | Blood Knot: Athol Fugard’s explosive family drama resonates in the era of Black Lives Matter

By Ruby Fischer

The Orange Tree


Excellent: Kalungi Ssebandeke and Nathan McMullen Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

SOUTH Africa, 1961. Morrie Pietersen (Nathan McMullen) and his half-brother Zach (Kalungi Ssebandeke) live together in the putrid shanty town of Korsten, Port Elizabeth. Morrie, light-skinned and bookish, dreams of a two-man farm in one of the “blank spaces” on the map while Zach, illiterate and weathered from working long hours in menial jobs, seeks only the company of women and old memories of nights on the town. It’s a story that in Athol Fugard’s play pits the “blood knot” against the politics of colourism as this complex family drama unfolds.

While the story may feel a little far from home in Richmond, there’s a ring of authenticity to the Orange Tree’s vivid revival in which McMullen and Ssebandeke, an excellent pairing under Matthew Xia’s direction, balance whimsical...

Continue reading →

Book Review | Don’t Call Me Princess by Kate Evans


By Ruby Fischer

DON’T Call Me Princess is a funny, gutsy and hugely relatable retelling of all the gruesome fairy tales we’ve cherished for so long. But this time the princes are prickly, slobbering buffoons in tights, chasing after incredulous princesses who choose not to trade their fins for feet.

Author and cartoonist Kate Evans bases the story’s narrator on her own daughter, now at the “good critical age” of seven. She reads to us from her
book of fairy tales, scoffing along to every “happily ever after” before thinking up her own, infinitely more satisfying narratives. In her imagination,
the princess finds the pea, dumps the dwarves and abseils down the scary tower in a dress that accentuates her biceps. It’s a book that will delight young girls everywhere, but, as Evans points out, it probably won’t make for
a calming bed-time read.


“We’re currently part of the MeToo...

Continue reading →

Theatre Review | Aisha: Harrowing journey through the nightmare of forced marriage

By Ruby Fischer


(Courtesy of the artist)

THIS one-woman play by AJ reveals the brutal girl-hood of the now 17-year-old Aisha who, married at 14 to a wealthy 51-year-old distant uncle, is kept locked in the house and subjected to years of abuse.

Addressing us from a small bed in the corner of Alys Whitehead’s eerily child-sized set, she narrates a story based on actual events that’s hard to watch as she disgorges the memories of her violation in disturbing detail.
It’s an account which raises uncomfortable questions about culpability and
the violent consequences of reticence at a time when up to 8,000 children and women are at risk of being forced into marriage annually in Britain.

Alex Jarrett is sensational as Aisha, with her imaginative performance working on us like a fever. We too start to flinch at the flicker of the kitchen light, the only onstage sign of her husband’s...

Continue reading →

Live Music Review | Mokoomba: The new sound of Afro-fusion

By Ruby Fischer

St Mary’s Music Hall

Mokoomba_credit_Eric van Nieuwland 103618_iContact.jpeg

Mokoomba, on the rise Photo: Eric van Nieuwland

SOMETHING special happens in the room when Mokoomba start to play. In the opening strains of the first song Yombe, Trustworth Samende’s lilting guitar and Mathias Muzaza’s soaring vocals pull you into a soundscape of traditional Luvale and Tonga sounds coloured with rich, soulful harmonies.
They go on to deliver an electrifying night to remember, combining history, tradition and identity fused with an entirely unique modern sound in a stunning 12th century church, complete with lager in the pews.


Trustworth Samende sports his national colours Photo: Ilka Schlockermann

The band’s six members grew up together in a township on the fringe of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and this shared identity infuses the spirit of their
music — their voices seem to have found a pristine balance after a lifetime in...

Continue reading →

Theatre Review | The Aristocrats: Bathos in Ballybeg

By Ruby Fischer
Donmar Warehouse

Aristocrats PSD-Loftus-Claire-in-Aristocrats-at-the-Donmar-Warehouse.-Directed-by-Lyndsey-Turner-designed-by-Es-Devlin.jpg

Compelling: David Dawson and Aisling Loftus Photo: Johan Persson

IN BRIAN FRIEL’S world of Chopin and hangovers, the once grand O’Donnell family find themselves on the brink of obsolescence in his play Aristocrats. Their bedfast patriarch, once a prominent chief justice in Donegal, barks orders at the family through a baby monitor on the wall, while their beloved
Ballybeg Hall succumbs to years of storms and dry rot.

Like many of his contemporaries, Friel wrote almost obsessively about small-town Irish families, usually motherless and living under the thumb of a tyrannical father and their roll-call reads like a painstaking excavation of what Friel himself called “familiar melancholy.” But, while Tom Murphy, Hugh Leonard and John B Keane made efforts to write the family drama out of the rural Irish kitchen, Friel encases the O’Donnells in the old...

Continue reading →

Theatre Review | Othello: Fatally Fractured Masculinity

By Ruby Fischer
Shakespeare’s Globe


Andre Holland and Jessica Warbeck find levity and grace as Othello and Desdemona, Photo: Simon Annand

When The Globe announced the cast of its latest production of Othello, I admit to wondering whether I had signed up for standing room at the Rylance-Holland Show. With two such beloved and celebrated leads — each bringing with him an army of devoted admirers — I imagined a sort of Shakespearean Clash of the Titans. What I saw was an artfully pared-down production which does intelligent and heartfelt work in service of a good story.

US actor Andre Holland (Moonlight, Selma) brings a warm elegance to a role (Othello) that he has long avoided, while Mark Rylance’s Iago, that most villainous of villains, is waggish, docile and, dare I say it, charming in his much-discussed Mario cap and baby-blue tunic.It is this characteristic generosity of spirit...

Continue reading →

Theatre Review | The Daughter-in-Law: DH Lawrence tellingly demonstrates how societal conflict affects intimate relationships

By Ruby Fischer
Arcola Theatre

DaughterInLaw Harry Hepple (Luther Gascoyne) photo by Idil Sukan 04.jpg

Harry Hepple as Luther Gascoyne Photo: Idil Sukan

The underground bunker of the Arcola is the perfect custodian of Jack Gamble’s vivid revival of The Daughter- in- Law, a play by D.H. Lawrence, that didn’t see the footlights until well after the playwright’s death. A working-class tale of grit and scarcity - in Lawrence’s own words, an “ordinary” tale - would have to wait until 1968 to make its way to the stage. Fortunately, the play has aged gracefully, with its themes of class, sex, liberty and bondage still ringing true more than a century later.

Set in 1912, the play begins amidst the simmering tensions of the national coal strike which inevitably boil over into the Gascoyne home when news of a scandal arrives in the form of Mrs Purdy (Tessa Bell-Briggs). The action opens at the family table, where a conversation between Mrs Gascoyne (Veronica...

Continue reading →