Simon Murphy’s Govanhill: a bold photographic portrait

Simon Murphy’s new exhibition Govanhill captures a transient snapshot of the Glasgow Southside area.

Framed on the wall of Street Level Photoworks is a photograph of a young girl, she is around 11 or 12 years old. School uniform on, cigarette in hand, head cocked to the side, she poses, defiantly, outside the entrance to one of the Southside’s tightly packed tenement flats. I want to know her name.

She’s just one of hundreds of Glaswegians—more specifically, inhabitants of the Govanhill area—w

Notes on Booker Prize 2023 winner Prophet Song

Paul Lynch, winner of The Booker Prize 2023, told the awards ceremony that he risked “dooming his career” by writing Prophet Song. His dystopian novel follows an ordinary, middle-class family, The Stacks, whose lives deteriorate in tandem with the city where they live, Dublin. Written poetically – with no paragraph breaks or speech marks – its tragedy lies in the helplessness of its characters: its floundering mother, Eilish, and her bed-wetting, school-skipping children. Prophet Song is formida

Review: Baek Sehee’s i want to die but i want to eat tteokbokki

i want to die but i want to eat tteokbokki is marketed as “part memoir, part self-help book.” Its format is unusual: recorded conversations between the author and her psychiatrist constitute the bulk of the text, before an epilogue serves as a personal reflection. In this epilogue, Baek Sehee discusses her experience of finding books which are like medicine for her. It is implied that these are self-help books.

As instances of mental ill-health skyrocket among young people, substituting the adv

The definite Real Housewives of Cheshire ranking

Glitz, glam and deceit: these ladies are all showstoppers in one way or another

Dorothy was right: there’s no place like home. This adage from The Wizard of Oz surely extends to Real Housewives franchises, too, and while there will always be purists asserting the supremacy and authenticity of Bravo – the network which launched the show – I am convinced that ITVBe have done a fine job with their UK spin-off series (or, at least, this one). After 175 episodes of quintessentially British drama, th

Tinderbox Orchestra Review: Ordinary people doing extraordinary things

As one component part of the registered charity Tinderbox Collective, the orchestra returns to the Edinburgh Fringe for a dazzling showcase of fusion music.

Two rows of numbered PCs, a dozen red office chairs and a photocopier are already incongruous additions to Edinburgh Central Library’s grandiose, wood-panelled reference room. A modest stage, a smattering of instruments laid out on the floor and a multitude of criss-crossing wires only add to what looks like, at first glance, a messy bricol

Ten Years since Sheryl Sandberg told women to Lean In

Since Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In topped bestseller lists, we have entered the fourth wave of feminism. This has been, in part, defined by the #metoo movement which challenged sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as a renewed focus on intersectionality. Neither of these two issues are addressed by Lean In, and Sandberg’s supposedly feminist manifesto has largely failed on its own terms - the number of female tech leaders has fallen. Sandberg herself called it quits in June last year, taking

Glasgow Film Festival 2023: Rye Lane

Naming a rom-com after a bustling street running through the heart of Peckham (South London) emphasises the special importance of setting to Rye Lane. The plethora of spaces which Dom (David Jonsson) and Yaz (Vivian Oparah) navigate are unmistakably and proudly in Zone 2, whether that be chicken shop Morley’s, under the arches of the London Overground, or Brixton Market. In a Q&A, director Raine Allen Miller mentioned filming in the latter location as especially important, because South London i

Glasgow Film Festival 2023: What Sex Am I?

Were it not for their gender, most of the people interviewed in What Sex Am I? would make pretty boring subjects. A former PE teacher and a computer mechanics worker are just some of the subjects of Lee Grant’s hour-long documentary, which dissects the lives of ordinary people whose relationships with sex and gender American society deems complex (both in the 1980s, when the film is set, and maybe even more so today).

Grant’s style is forthright, and sometimes a little too prying, but effective

Glasgow Film Festival 2023: How To Blow Up a Pipeline

Why To Blow Up a Pipeline is perhaps a more appropriate title for the book this climate crisis thriller is based on. Yet Andreas Malm’s theoretical and intellectual justification of direct action, sabotage and property destruction in tackling the climate emergency is almost less philosophical than Daniel Goldhaber’s screen adaptation, which provides a nuanced account of a group of environmental activists as they attempt to destroy an oil refinery.

One of several programmes chosen by Glasgow Fil

Theatre meets 90s House: Better Days by Ben Tagoe

Ben Tagoe was a teenager when the title track to his one-person show, Better Days, was released. Featuring a raft of classic early ‘90s rave tunes, his crowdfunded production tells the story of Danny, a 19-year-old in 1990, who grapples with the intersection of two subcultures: football hooliganism and the house music scene. The first draft took only two to three months (“this was from the heart”), but as the hard work of refining and perfecting the play carries on until its first performance at

FLY returns to Sub Club for 10-year anniversary celebrations

FLY’s current residency at Glasgow’s Sub Club has been extended, with new dates announced covering most weeks in March and April.

Holly McPherson, FLY’s event coordinator, says that “FLY operates festivals, clubs and concerts across Scotland; we love to showcase the historic culture of Scotland through the venues we use”, and that it’s “an honour to be working with Sub Club again” after running some shows with them a few years ago".

She added: “FLY started as a night with friends for friends a

In Anticipation of: Celtic Connections Festival 2023

The annual Celtic Connections festival returns to Glasgow from Thursday 19 January to Sunday 5 February, offering a lineup of musical, theatrical and other events encompassing traditional, folk, indie, jazz and Americana genres. A range of venues throughout the city will host performances big and small, from the grandeur of the Royal Concert Hall to the intimacy of The Hug and Pint. As the 30th edition of the festival, this particular lineup not only includes those involved with the Scottish mus

Review: Big Joanie @ Mono

Punk died six years ago according to Joe Corre (the late Dame Vivienne Westwood’s son). Though he lambasted its transition into a “marketing tool” used by the music industry, the success of Big Joanie’s UK headline tour - Glasgow being their 3rd sold out show - suggests a radical alternative is alive and thriving.

Big Joanie are a Black feminist punk band. Its three members - Stephanie Phillips on guitar, Chardine Taylor Stone on drums, and Estella Adeyeri on bass - charmed veggie bar-turned-gi

Cheryl is still viable

Cheryl Tweedy Cole Fernandez-Versini. Several articles about the former Girls Aloud member, who is now known as “just Cheryl”, commence with a bricolage of the last names she has accumulated over the years, and why shouldn’t they? It’s an etymological masterpiece - Kimberley Gail Ratcliff (née Marsh, previously Ryder and Lomas) just doesn’t hit the sweet spot! - and a reminder of the chaotic love life that, among other reasons, induces a very British affection for her. Following a long period in

Review: Bongo’s Bingo Christmas @ SWG3

There is no greater accumulation of heteronormative slaying than at Bongo’s Bingo Glasgow. Almost everyone in the queue snaking down Eastvale Place was sequin-clad or generally glammed up, and some were dancing on the benches before 7pm. In Glasgow there’s no settling down into your forties, fifties, or beyond - going off out to get plastered is still the done thing. A scour of the Bongo’s Bingo website listings unsurprisingly revealed nowhere else in the UK to have as many shows this month as G

The Kelvin Ensemble’s Voyages of the Sea

No one quite knew where the queue started and ended. The endearing chaos of Hunter Halls - a charmingly functional but far less elaborate version of Bute Hall - was the result of a sold out concert from the Kelvin Ensemble: the University of Glasgow’s student run orchestra. Its chairperson, Nick Baughan, spoke to The Glasgow Guardian before the event, and emphasised the “challenges in getting a venue that’s big enough for us all in previous years”. Though evidently a problem not quite resolved b

Review: The Book of Mormon @ Theatre Royal Glasgow

“Jesus lived here, in the USA”, supposedly. It’s the kind of writing that should be so ridiculous, so satirical, as to bear little resemblance to reality. But what The Book of Mormon does so well is make us, among cackles and giggles, question and engage critically with so much - charity, race, religion are only the start.

The actual Book of Mormon is a founding text of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. What Robert Lopez, and South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, do wit

Review: Sugababes @ O2 Academy

It was an eclectic assortment of us filing into the O2 Academy on a Monday night. Lots of forty somethings were reliving their glory days, sporting semi glamorous attire scrambled together after a Monday slog in the office. But the Sugababes are a timeless phenomenon, and the number of young people in attendance was both heartening and unsurprising.

We were first treated to two support acts following on seamlessly from one another. Kara Marni is 22 and on TikTok. She releases EPs (not albums) a

Review: Just An Ordinary Lawyer

Tunji Sowande was not just an ordinary lawyer. Becoming Britain’s first Black judge in 1978, this one-man show documents his story, as captivating insights into race are conveyed through impassioned song and spoken word.

This interpretation feels all the more authentic because Sowande was also a concert singer, with music remaining close to his heart throughout his legal career. It seems likely Sowande would want to tell his story through his booming baritone voice, and it is a shame that this show was only made posthumously.

Review: Disenchanted: A Cabaret of Twisted Fairy Tales

It was naive of me to enter Disenchanted with some scepticism. The concept of “twisting” fairy-tales through cabaret seemed so overdone, so unoriginal, and yet what could have been a tedious 55 minutes of insignificant mediocrity turned out to be more enjoyable than not.

Our cheeky, feather-laden host explained that she talks to characters who are not being represented properly in fairy tales, hence the “twist” is platforming the voiceless victims or villains otherwise derided or degraded by society. ‘Disenchanted’ is arguably more successful when it subverts

Review: The Same Boat

Directed by the same people who came up with the genius that is Tokyo Fugue, my expectations for The Same Boat were pretty high. Having broadly the same setup, with chairs being the primary form of self-expression and navigation, five characters - a witch, a bitch, a goldfish, a salaryman and a sleepwalker - deliver monologues united by their common expression of guilt. Embedded in-between are ritualistic dances, in which the characters do not have conversations with each other, but have conversations with themselves around each other. General expressions of hysteria are found throughout.

Review: Apartness

Even the closest of relationships can be isolating. When you cut yourself off from the rest of the world, either by choice or by force, having one person with you all the way can be no help because they are, after all, just one person. Apartness explores this in the context of coronavirus, where the scars of lockdown loneliness linger.

There are three characters: an older couple, Alice and Chris (Linda Marlowe and Sylvester McCoy), who are shielding, and a comedian Pat (Eleanor May Blackburn), who is paid to deliver them shopping while she cannot

Review: Dickin' Around

A super-stretchable dildo being used to portray masturbation is perhaps, to the old-fashioned, indicative of a fundamentally unserious performance. And yet Dickin’ Around opens with just that, doing (exactly) what it says on the cover.

Within a couple of minutes our protagonist despairs at the golden age of porn tumbling down, and his acquisition of repetitive strain injury from, well, dickin’ around. The audience is already loving it.

Review: Finding Magic

Beverley Bishop is quintessentially likeable. Her warmth and humour make for such easy watching that a show propped up by platitudes and clichés becomes quite touching. Finding Magic is based on Beverley’s true story: she loses her magic after she loses her son, and so she takes a zoom audience on a journey to find it again.

Asking the audience to “come closer!” “closer!” in a soft East Yorkshire accent, the show starts with the slightly amusing spectacle of mostly older women shuffling in their seats, creating zoom camera angles neo-Luddites could only dream of.
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