Saturday, July 20Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Tag: Review

Bag Salad and Box Office
Culture & Literature, Literature, Theatre & Performance

Bag Salad and Box Office

By Daniel Pepin Do you like contemporary fiction? The kind of fiction that makes you squirm? Boundary pushing, unsettling, compulsive, a little bit sexy? Then chances are you have read or at least heard of Boy Parts by Eliza Clark – if you have not then please do so, for the above reasons. Clark’s debut novel was an instant cult classic, epitomising the manic and obsessive world of the internet era – criticising and dissecting modern gender conflict, classism, and performative art. The razor blade sharp book follows Irina, a Northern fetish photographer as she humiliates and captures explicit photos of young men and boys while surviving off a heady mix of coke, ket, Tesco bag salad, and La Mer. The playbook opens with ‘this is the story as Irina tells it. She is an artist, a monster, a...
How Did Life End Up With Us?
Culture & Literature, Literature, Opinion

How Did Life End Up With Us?

By Felix Poreé and Olivia Taylor Introduced as the first book of a quartet titled "The Secrets of Life: From Big Bang to Trump", SS O'Connor's How Did Life End Up With Us? presents itself as an attempt to answer the most pertinent of questions surrounding the laws of life, from the start of the Big Bang all the way to the ‘decisions’ that organisms make that ultimately determine their chances of survival. One anticipates that such questions would require substantial scientific research, and although O’Connor admits he is not a scientist, his undertaking, given to the reader in a conversational writing style, is divided into specific chapters that aim to cover such topics as natural selection, gene mutations, and evolutionary change, down to parasitism, mutualism, and altruism. O’Con...
Hopeless Romantic by Dolly Alderton
Culture

Hopeless Romantic by Dolly Alderton

I have held myself back from discussing Dolly Alderton for quite some time now. I first read her debut memoir Everything I Know About Love three years ago, during lockdown, and I have not shut up about it since. I’ll admit, her fictional debut, Ghosts, did not impress me as much; I quickly realised it was her confessional tone that caught my attention, hence why her autobiographical work and her ‘Dear Dolly’ advice column have left such a lasting impression. Since reading Everything I Know About Love, I have continued to stay up to date with her work, but I only recently found an essay she wrote for The Pound Project in 2018 titled ‘Hopeless Romantic’.  The Pound Project is an independent publishing company founded by JP Watson. Their message is to shout about ‘the value of readin...
<strong><em>Will you go on the record? </em>How ‘She Said’ reminds us of the sad realities of Hollywood. </strong>
Culture

Will you go on the record? How ‘She Said’ reminds us of the sad realities of Hollywood. 

Released five years after the original article from The New York Times was published, ‘She Said’ tells the story of the two journalists who uncovered the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal. Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey are played by Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan respectively, yet the film also includes actresses who were victims of Weinstein including Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd, who play/voice themselves.  The film itself is subtle, yet the statement it makes is bold. By criticising the very industry that it has been created in, the film sets out to confront the industry professionals who will be watching this film – many of whom will have worked with Weinstein, maybe even defended him. ‘She Said’ does not glamorise Hollywood or the media industry – it does the opposite.&...
A Love Letter to Four Weddings and a Funeral 
Culture

A Love Letter to Four Weddings and a Funeral 

A romance film where the romance is incidental. I watched Four Weddings and a Funeral for the first time relatively recently. I was expecting another Notting Hill–and indeed, there are parallels and similarities, in that Richard Curtis directs while Hugh Grant attempts to win the affections of a seemingly-out-of-his-league American, accompanied by a zany, tight-knit group of friends. Four Weddings, however, is a different film entirely, and quickly became one of my favourites. Four Weddings stands apart from the usual romcom genre in my mind for many reasons–not least because the romance that the film ostensibly follows is one of the least interesting aspects. It seems almost cliched now to reject Charles and Carrie’s central love story. After all, in the era of “hot takes”, it’s be...
Vintage Kitchen: Victorian Sorbet
Lifestyle

Vintage Kitchen: Victorian Sorbet

Now that it’s summer, the weather is warmer, and the daylight hours are longer, it made sense to wrap this series up with an iconic treat that we all associate with the season. BBC Radio 4’s podcast, You’re Dead To Me, did an episode exploring the history of ice-cream. The podcast mentioned horrifying 18th century flavours from whale vomit to ‘out there’ ones such as parmesan and artichoke. Towards the end of the podcast, food historian Dr Annie Gray described a recipe from the Queen of Ices: Agnes Marshall (1855-1905). Agnes Marshall was a pioneer of ice cream and frozen desserts, using liquid nitrogen to freeze ice creams, long before the invention of the modern freezer. In 1885 she came out with the patent freezer which could freeze a pint of ice cream in five minutes and is considered...
The Reality of Sex Work at University
Opinion

The Reality of Sex Work at University

All names have been changed to preserve anonymity. ‘I’ve been very lucky that all of the arrangements I’ve had have been with really genuine people’ – surely it indicates something foul when someone feels lucky to have encountered basic respect? Surely such respect, and ‘genuine people’, should be the norm? Are we so doomed as a society? I would like to believe we are not. However, when it comes to the industry of sex work, and young people entering it, it may be a different story.               According to a pre-pandemic stat by Leicester University, an estimated 5% of UK students turn to sex work, and one in five consider it. Remember, that is pre-pandemic. If Covid generated any mainstream student story, it was the...
Trouble in Tahiti: The Gender Troubles of the ‘50s Still Following Us Today
Culture & Literature, Theatre & Performance

Trouble in Tahiti: The Gender Troubles of the ‘50s Still Following Us Today

Trouble in Tahiti is a 1952 opera musical composed by Leonard Bernstein. Royal Holloway’s production of this renowned opera showed variety and skill in both acting and vocal performances. In a critique of 1950s patriarchal marriage norms, Jennifer Morafkova and James Gooding interpreted the two protagonists, Dinah and Sam. Accompanist Georgie Andrews, joined by Anna Caron, Zachary Smith, Phoebe Wakefield, Robert Murray, and Sebastian Stone as the chorus enhanced these marital gender inequalities through satire and dark humour. Director Kitty Cassey and Assistant Director Jennifer Hawthorn succeeded in taking their audience back in time to the post World War 2 period for the short seven scenes.  The chorus introduces what is supposedly the perfect marriage through Bernstein’s Prelu...
Love at first bite
Features, Film & TV

Love at first bite

Warning! Spoilers ahead. What initially starts as a romcom, soon transcends into every woman’s worst dating nightmare in Mimi Cave’s Fresh. Released on Hulu and Disney+, the horror comedy follows Noa (Normal People’s Daisy Edgar-Jones), who, after loads of disastrous flings, decides to take a bite at dating again and falls for Steve (I, Tonya’s Sebastian Stan). Their meet-cute happens in a supermarket where he advises her on trying cotton candy grapes because he apparently needs some help with proving to his sister and niece that they taste exactly like cotton candy. This is one of the many references to food in the film. There are further references to food through up close visuals of characters eating food such as crisps or salad, so much so that it is like an upscale mukbang video....
Conversations on Love with writer Chloé Williams
Culture & Literature, Literature

Conversations on Love with writer Chloé Williams

By Olivia Taylor Natasha Lunn’s book Conversations on Love first appeared on my radar a couple of months ago via an Instagram story of book recommendations on New York-based writer Chloé Williams’ account (IG: @chloeinletters). With the rise of ‘BookTok’ and various other social media platforms allowing us to connect with other readers, reviews and recommendations have a newfound significance, especially when they come from respected writers like Williams. Conversations on Love joins Lunn’s own intimate essays with confessional interviews that give readers a beautiful insight into the heart. There is much to be said about relationships, regardless of whether they fall under the form of romantic, familial, or platonic, and Lunn teaches us that everything we feel is in some way universal...