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Directors shouldn’t meddle with Shakespeare

A strip club, a prison, a mental asylum, a Great War field hospital, an addiction clinic, a Napoleonic palace. These are the typical locations for a modern production of Shakespeare, whose interpreters seem to agree that any setting is better than the one chosen by the playwright. The assumption today is that the Bard needs

The disruptive comeback of Jacob Zuma

Johannesburg For a decade to 1973, Jacob Zuma – or JZ as he is known – was an inmate of Robben Island, the infamous prison built on a 1,300-acre slab of rock four miles off the South African coast. A fellow inmate was Nelson Mandela, also inside for treason. Both went on to become presidents

Japan shows up Britain’s impoverished councils

I’m halfway through a stay in Japan, the land of the free public toilet. City squares, riverside walks, bus interchanges in the middle of nowhere – chances are there’s one waiting. The grubbiest are old but clean enough. The cleanest are like operating theatres. I think of days in British cities where you have to

Could Jordan Bardella be France’s next PM?

Dixmont, Yonne In Britain, France’s National Front is synonymous with the Le Pen family. Jean-Marie founded the right-wing party in 1972 and his daughter Marine replaced him as its leader in 2011. In France, however, the National Rally – as it was rebranded in 2018 – is increasingly the party of Jordan Bardella. The 28-year-old

Inside America’s stand against TikTok

Washington, DC Earlier this month, the video app TikTok started sending urgent push notifications to its 170 million American users. ‘Congress is planning a total ban of TikTok,’ it said. ‘Speak up now.’ The company called on TikTokers to defend their ‘constitutional right to free expression’ and provided a handy link so that ‘businesses, creators

Notes on...

The trouble with apple cider vinegar

The snake oil salesman is back in town with an old favourite: apple cider vinegar – or ACV as it’s called by those in the know. The ‘wonder-juice’ has been around for centuries, peddled by Greeks and Romans alike. In recent years, it has become something of a panacea, a social media ‘superfood’. But just