Sam Troughton as Romeo and Mariah Gale as Juliet

Love’s young dream never felt more thrilling or poignant as in Rupert Goold’s energetic and engaging new production of Romeo and Juliet.

The exhilarating opening scene plunges the audience straight into a beautifully choreographed sword-fight between the Capulet’s and Montague’s. Flashes of fire erupt angrily among the chaos, adding to the menacing atmosphere as the two warring families battle hammer and tong.

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Film: Four Lions

Riz Ahmed as Omar and Kayvan Novak as Wak

Through Riz Ahmed’s character, the would-be terrorist Omar, director Chris Morris has skilfully encapsulated the Government’s ‘Prevent’ conundrum. Omar is at once naïve and intelligent, foul-mouthed and gentle, pitiless but tender. In short, he is human, very human. But how to ‘reach out’ to young men like him and prevent losing them to a violent and misguided cause?

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Greg Hicks as King Lear (Photos by Manuel Harlan)

Is blood really thicker than water? Upon watching ‘King Lear’, Shakespeare forces his audience to ponder the proverb which provokes such a searching question. Islam places the utmost importance on the concept of family, and this drama plumbs the depths of familial relationships.

David Farr’s production is skilfully imagined and deftly executed, offering a valuable comprehension to one of Shakespeare’s more difficult and complex plays. As one of the Bard’s most brutal and unforgiving tragedies, ‘King Lear’ explores the folly of old age and the ruthless ambition of the young, leading to a fatal clash of generations. The story of a King’s fall from grace at the hands of his children sees the fragility of the human condition effectively replicated on stage under Farr’s capable direction.

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Film: The Infidel

Djalili with Richard Schiff

In the midst of such uncertain times in the Middle East, what better way to break the proverbial bread with your neighbours than to make a film about a Jew raised as a Muslim. David Baddiel’s acerbic comedy is set in London’s East End, a generational melting pot of Huguenots, Irish, Jews and now Muslims. Subtly drawing on the co-existence of these faiths through a wittily outrageous, yet essentially warm hearted story, his characterisations show Muslims in a refreshingly ‘normal’ light.

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Arabian Nights director Dominic Cooke speaks to Saadeya Shamsuddin about revisiting the ancient Eastern epic in a post 9/11 era and the need for more Muslim playwrights.

The Story of the Little Beggar (Photos by Keith Pattison)

The magic and power of storytelling lives on. Like Queen Shahrazad who bewitched King Shahrayar, night after night with her magical tales, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s much anticipated production of Arabian Nights combines all the elements of an epic story that captivates its audience.

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Much Ado About Nothing

Tim Sheader's production at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Tim Sheader's production at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre (Photos by Saadeya Shamsuddin)

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I spoke with the Evening Standard’s Deputy Arts Editor Richard Godwin to hear about his views on how the arts scene in London is fairing in the current climate.

Camden Council and burlesque dancers across London have got their frilly knickers in a twist over the licensing of burlesque performaces. The Council requires any establishment which shows nudity on stage, and has entertainment of an adult nature, to hold the same licence held by the borough’s lap dancing venues. But burlesque dancers are arguing the nature of their performance is an art form, and oppose being categorised with strippers and lap dancers.

The story came about this week when the Evening Standard reported how regular burlesque nights held at popular music venues such as Koko and Roundhouse may be under threat if they do not acquire the appropriate licence, Striptease or art? The question for burlesque taste police.

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Aneurin Barnard as Melchior

Aneurin Barnard as Melchio Gabor (Photo by Tristram Kenton courtesy of Cornershop PR)

Believe the hype; Spring Awakening is a youthful tonic for young and old, making no apologies for being angst ridden, volatile and touching all at the same time,  just like its teenage characters. The musical is deftly punctuated by catchy rock ditties and ballads to convey pivitol moments, the youths expressing through song what they daren’t utter in conversation, with power and humour.

For a play so steeped in controversy, it’s hard to believe one could come away so invigorated. This is in part due to the verve and energy of the cast, but also a skilled adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s orginal 1891 play which was initially banned in Germany and not performed in English for nealy a 100 years thereafter, due to its (then) shocked reception.

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Goldie‘s latest art exhibtion at Shoreditch’s Maverik Showroom packs a punch…

Arresting: Goldie greets visitors to Maverik Showroom              (All photos by Saadeya Shamsuddin)

Arresting: Goldie greets visitors to Maverik Showroom (Photos by Saadeya Shamsuddin)

A reaction to society’s ASBO nation created by the government or a great excuse to jump on the anti-establishment graffiti bandwagon? Perhaps a little bit of both, but judging by the price tags at Goldie’s latest exhibition at Maverik in Shoreditch, only the minted will be buying, be they the likes of former Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown or City slickers wanting to feel street because they’re anything but.

Click below to view slideshow

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