George Hull

Can the Night Tube save London’s nightlife?

On Friday 19 August, London Underground will run its first night tube services as the capital congratulates itself on becoming the nation’s first 24-hour city. But while the Mayor’s office is intent on running trains for the city’s night owls, the rest of local government seems determined to tuck them up in bed. In the

Bored of the dance

[audioplayer src=”″ title=”The Spectator Podcast: The end of raving” startat=1080] Listen [/audioplayer]At 19, I dropped out of university to pursue a career as a rave promoter. I went into business with a schoolfriend. We rose through the ranks of party promotion, founded a record label, and started an annual dance music festival. After more than

Save me from this hipster bookshop

My father used to own a rambling provincial bookshop. He was once asked to direct a customer to some esoterica. Peering over his copy of The Spectator, he directed the punter to a far-flung corner of the first floor: ‘It’s the second alcove on the left under “Cranks”’.  Such frank sectioning is sadly lacking at Libreria, East London’s hippest new

Time Travel

Merrily We Roll Along (Menier Chocolate Factory, until 9 March) lets you escape the winter cold to a showbiz party in a Bel Air beach house. Still, despite its summery setting, Stephen Sondheim’s musical has a stock-taking feel that suits it to a run at the changing of the years. ‘How did you get to

Magical mystery tour | 3 January 2013

Pontius Pilate is deciding the fate of Ha-Notsri (aka Jesus) in Herod’s palace. In Stalin’s Moscow, meanwhile, the Devil (aka Woland) stalks the streets. One man, the Master (aka Mikhail Bulgakov), can reconcile these opposing cosmic forces. But he is languishing in a mental asylum. Bulgakov’s Manichaean acid trip avant la lettre, The Master and

Bum deal

Wilton’s, the crumbly music hall in London’s East End, has been dressed up as a crumbly Prohibition-era speakeasy. And a good job they’ve done of it, what with the bootlegger types in the foyer, foxtrotters on the upstairs landing, and an Irish giant who ushers us into a side chapel where his friend’s corpse is

Unfinished business | 18 February 2012

Absent Friends is the least technically adventurous of Alan Ayckbourn’s plays. Yet Jeremy Herrin’s revival (Harold Pinter Theatre, booking until 14 April) seems determined to display all its workings. The fact that the action unfolds in real time is thrust in our face with a big clock on the back wall, and an even bigger

Power games

Plays used to end in marriage. Then they anatomised the highs and lows of life as a couple. Now — at least in Neil LaBute’s latest London première — the relationships are all either over or heading that way fast. Reasons to Be Pretty (Almeida, until 14 January) gives a spot-on depiction of those no-man’s-land

Fantasy auction

Have you ever felt the urge to rush backstage, brushing aside the objections of minders, and introduce yourself to a favourite actor? Or perhaps you’ve fantasised about dressing up in the old clothes of a Hollywood star? Don’t blush and walk away! We can reveal exclusively that you have nothing to be ashamed of. On

Get that girl

L.A. The Eighties. Hard rock is alive and well. Two smalltown hopefuls, Drew and Sherrie, arrive on Sunset Strip, as a German property developer is threatening to flatten it. Both find work in the same bar, and Drew has just plucked up the courage to tell Sherrie, ‘I think you’re really rad,’ when jaded rock

Danger zone

If you ever experienced the adrenalin of a Quasar or Alien War birthday party as a child, part of you is going to love Our Days of Rage, a play by the winners of the Write to Shine competition, at the Old Vic Tunnels (until 15 September). ‘Security guards’ hustle us in, then lead us

Culture notes: The Beauty Queen of Leenane

Take one chip pan full of cooking oil, one crippled old lady and one strong-framed Irishwoman in her prime. Let the younger one heat the oil till it’s scalding, and pour it on to the older one’s trapped hand so she screams and screams (make the older one her mother, for good measure…). When she

Keeping the show on the road

Lay Me Down Softly (Tricycle Theatre, until 6 August) is set in Delaney’s Travelling Roadshow, sometime in the 1960s, in the middle of the Irish countryside — even the characters don’t know where. A string of exciting crimes of passion is being committed at the rifle range, in Paddy Hickey’s Mercedes and by the bumper

Eccentrics on parade

A young aristocrat and the daughter of a banished duke fall in love at a wrestling contest. Both are forced from court by family intrigue, and take refuge in the same enchanted forest. She recognises him, but not vice versa, since to avert assault she has disguised herself as a boy. Confusions ensue. Stephen Unwin’s

Let’s twist again

An elderly stranger on a Jamaican train bets a young US Navy cadet that his lighter won’t light ten times in a row. If it does, the stranger’s Cadillac is his. If not, he forfeits the little finger of his left hand. The cadet accepts. Wouldn’t you? An elderly stranger on a Jamaican train bets

Broken hearts

In a bleak St Louis tenement, the Wingfields are buckling beneath the Depression and their mother’s old-fashioned aspirations. A framework of fire escapes and raised walkways provides convenient perches from which Tom (Leo Bill) can narrate and look on with foreboding as his lame sister is dressed and groomed for the long awaited ‘gentleman caller’.

Family Circle

‘We’re a beastly family, and I hate us!’ laments Sorel Bliss in Hay Fever. And at first it seems all four Blisses share that sentiment. ‘We’re a beastly family, and I hate us!’ laments Sorel Bliss in Hay Fever. And at first it seems all four Blisses share that sentiment. Each has invited a guest