With spring break just around the corner here’s a few cultural treats to speed up the week ahead. Going up this week in The Barron is Ben Jonson’s ‘The Alchemist’; the play is a biting satire about a trio of con artists that prey upon the greed of their fellow seventeenth-century Londoners. The new BBC drama ‘Banished’ is another historical piece, set in 1788 in New South Wales it follows the tensions between a group of British convicts and their masters. This week’s novel is a memoir about overcoming grief; Norbury gives an account of her journey from the source to the mouth a river, with stories and epiphanies along the way. ‘Still Alice’, the film this week, is equally poignant. It follows Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) as she copes with the disintegration of self through early onset Alzheimer’s disease. While this Friday, SAS’s Yurt Party bringing live music and DJs to a Yurt village in aid of Disability Snowsport UK is the perfect way to get set for the break.
Don’t let deadlines get you down when there’s plenty of things to keep you busy. This week is a week of cultural thrillers; Tom Rob Smith’s ‘The Farm’ confronts the mystery of psychosis through a Scandi-thriller template while Henry IV, going up in the Barron, promises everything from glitter to solitude in an exploration of being. ITV’s new real-events-based drama Arthur & George will keep Sherlock Holmes fans happy as Martin Clunes plays Sir Arthur Conan Doyle during the beginnings of his involvement with detective work. StAnza, Scotland’s international poetry festival, is back in St. Andrews this week bringing with it poets like Sinéad Morrissey and Simon Armitage; get your tickets from The Byre and get involved. Director Neill Blomkamp’s new film Chappie will be released this Friday. It presents a near future where crime is fought by police robots; one robot is stolen by the opposition and given the ability to think and feel. If Blomkamp’s District 9 is anything to go by, and with Die Antwoord on the cast list, the film will be brilliantly unique.
It’s week five and the St Andrews fashion season continues with the hotly anticipated Don’t Walk this weekend. New to TV screens this week is ‘Critical’, a medical drama that refuses to cut the gore and with each week presents a new case with intense realism. A different kind of pain lies at the heart of Cake that explores the effects of emotional trauma through, what is rumoured to be, Jennifer Aniston’s greatest performance to date. The Byre plays host to the first Just So society performance since 2012 this week. ‘The Last Five Years’ is a song-cycle musical oozing with contemporaneity as it follows the making, breaking and remaking of a marriage. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Ishiguro’s ‘The Buried Giant’ fills the gap that lies in historical records after the Roman occupation of Britain. Think ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ meets Kafka and you’ve got this dark age thriller.
It’s week four and time to celebrate some St. Andrews’ traditions with the installation of Rector Catherine Stihler this Friday. Following the historical route, Selma is a must-see with David Oyelowo’s stand out performance as Martin Luther King in his battle for equal rights. Along the same track is Richard Flanagan’s ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’, awarded the Man Booker Prize in October the novel follows an Australian wartime doctor and the prisoners-of-war working on the Burma death railway in 1943. In the Barron, an adaptation of Sarah Kane’s ‘Crave’ goes up this week. Much of Kane’s work is intensely psychological, powerful and unique so expect this to be like nothing seen before. What has been seen before but what never gets old is Gogglebox that’s back this week for another series.
The second semester is under way and there are plenty of cultural pieces to keep your diary filled. The Barron is bringing back a Shakespearian favourite ‘As You Like It’ as part of RAG week and the Global Investment Group are following suit with their studio 54 inspired gig in the Lizard. Another old favourite, The Great British Sewing Bee, is back on the BBC this week with a new set of amateur sewers. There is plenty of newness around too with Pixar’s next big hit ‘ Big Hero 6’ and Neil Gaiman’s ‘Trigger Warning’; a collection of short stories that play up to the exponential growth of trigger warning labelling.
It’s that time again, the break is over and week one is upon us. Polar Bears goes up this week in The Barron, a play written by Mark Haddon who also wrote The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. It will undoubtedly be cleverly funny and thoughtfully intense. Another debut this week is Burton’s novel The Miniaturist that crafts its story around a model house where the miniature figures sent to furnish it creepily resemble events taking place in real time. Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper is becoming as bestselling as the Navy Seal memoir from which it was adapted. There is only one way to decide whether it is a piece of Republican propaganda or a celebration of an American hero – go and see it. Also adapted from a novel, Wolf Hall, originally written by Hilary Mantel, is already creating a legacy for itself on BBC One with its cunning dialogue and the understated brilliance of its action. There is no better way to end the first week of the new semester than by supporting the launch of RAG Week which begins in Week Two. The launch party is free so there’s no excuse for not making a donation as you dance away Week One.
With revision dragging everyone under, here is a collection of a few songs to help you keep your head above water. These tracks are collaborated for their tendency to sink nicely into the background to allow your studying to keep ticking on while drowning out the surrounding noise. It will hopefully have the desired calming effect to help relieve some stress and inspire your own playlist.
It’s the final week of term and the perfect time to feel christmassy before exams kick in. The festive spirit is supplied by Mermaids this week; Christmas ball is here and the modernised theatre version of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ hits Venue 1. On the flip side, both the film and book of choice this week explore dystopian futures. William Gibson’s novel ‘The Peripheral’ mixes thriller and time travel with real, compelling characters and jumping story line. The Hunger Games’ newest installment is a must see alongside the new three-part supernatural thriller ‘Remember Me’ on BBC1. The mini-series sees Michael Palin back on-screen for the first time in 20 years; its set to be inexplicable, scary and down right amazing.
After a hectic few weeks of deadlines, Week 10 is approaching at a much slower pace with plenty of ways to relax. If you need a little light-heartedness in your life, Blind Mirth are back in the Barron for a free night of the best improv comedy. BBC2’s new documentary on the Mekong River is just as entertaining as Sue heads along the river to its source while depicting the effects of renewable energy on the lives of those who live off the river. Both the film and book of choice this week celebrate the lives of two great figures in the Second World War. ‘The Imitation Game’ depicts the turbulent life of enigma code breaker Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) who received a posthumous royal pardon for his charge of indecency only last year. George Prochnik’s biography of Stefan Zweig, Austria’s most celebrated writer and the inspiration for Wes Anderson’s ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’, records another turbulent life of a man forced into exile by Hitler’s regime. And this week’s art showcase, with free wine, is bringing everything back down to earth with all proceeds from the art sold going towards local projects.
It’s week 9 and it’s that time of year again for you to don your wellies at Welly Ball and meet the new theatrical talent in St Andrews with the Freshers’ Plays. Also new this week is Stephen King’s ‘Revival’; it has the usual chilling horror of King with a look into the other side of life and addiction. The return of the BBC documentary about the high end department store Liberty’s of London also gives a glimpse at the other side and the addiction of expensive consumerism. In search of life outside of earth, the scientific spectacle of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ hits the cinemas this week.