Jo Caird: Freelance journalist

Jo Caird is a freelance journalist, based in London. She writes on a broad range of issues relating to the British arts scene, encompassing the worlds of theatre, cinema and literature. Her features, interviews and reviews appear regularly in publications including The Sunday Times Culture, Times Online, The Daily Telegraph, The Stage and The Big Issue. Jo is also a successful travel journalist, receiving regular commissions for the magazine Condé Nast Traveller, as well as a number of other travel publications, both print and web-based. Visit her website at www.jocaird.com.

June 2010

Where do I fit in?

The novel’s brilliance, and what makes The Great Perhaps stand out from other similar-sounding tales of everyday American life, is its eccentricity. Madeline finds herself following a drifting cloud figure in her car every night; Thisbe wanders the neighbourhood baptising local cats.

Fiction
March 2010

To and of humanity

A 1988 essay entitled ‘The University and the Leadership Factor in Nigerian Politics’ perhaps surprisingly offers a message directly applicable to the current moment in British politics. ‘Leadership is a sacred trust, like the priesthood in civilised, humane religions’, Achebe writes. His writings should be on a list of required reading for all those thinking of taking up office; perhaps then we might end up with a political class ready to treat the electorate with the respect it is due.

November 2009

Navel-gazing in India

Theroux fills his novel with inexplicably apoplectic hotel managers, moustachioed police chiefs and clandestine meetings in overgrown cemeteries. Rife with cliché in just the right way, A Dead Hand will please fans of the detective thriller. Its characters are two-dimensional, but with a rollicking story to follow, who cares?

Fiction
July 2009

Further criticism is unnecessary

Beyond the fact that he wrote some novels, was decorated for his part in the First World War and killed himself with a shotgun, Hemingway remains a mystery. Worse than that even, I now actively dislike him. God knows what the estate must think about this production.

TheatreMusic
June 2009

Kak kak kak

It is striking how tenaciously he clings to the ideas instilled in him, refusing to believe the horrors that are reported about the actions of Mugabe’s party.

Woman inside man describes woman

Perkins inhabits the male mindset utterly convincingly, drawing her male narrator with total commitment.

Fiction

Ukrainian in New York

Krasikov’s women do not quite fit into their new surroundings; they stay within their communities, regarding the Americans they encounter with a certain mild derision.

May 2009

Turned outwards to the world

Ó Ceallaigh specialises in identifying moments where modern consumerist lifestyles fall down, the areas where the veil between perceived happiness and true contentment has worn thin and it becomes clear that some other solution must be found.

Fiction
April 2009

Long-gone adolescences

It is in the transition between trivialities and moments of high emotion however where Ash really shines. Adam’s relationship with his grandfather and response to his grandmother’s death are presented with great sensitivity and power and the tears glistening in Ash’s eyes are immensely evocative.

Theatre
February 2009

Guernica, recounted

The thirty or so pages that deal directly with the attacks are exhausting to read; Boling’s writing here is deadly in its effectiveness, mercilessly directing the reader’s gaze onto scenes of human pain and terror, each more awful than the last.

Fiction

Good nosh, well done

This novel may be finger-lickin’ good, but does it’s sizzling character loose the plot?

Fiction
January 2009

A film without an expiration date

Wong has commented that the film’s two stories are essentially the same. Motifs and images are repeated, binding the plots together. Distance, time and missed opportunities are recurring themes.

Film

The life unwitnessed

Quinn’s characters are utterly comprehensible without being simplistic; men and women with flaws and complexities that are strikingly real.

Fiction
December 2008

Power, politics and race

This may be Curry’s first feature-length documentary, but his handling of this ugliness is just as it should be. No dogmatic, Michael Moore-style commentary here; his effective interview technique and subtle editing allow the Newark electorate to speak through the film with an analysis of the situation that is succinct and enlightened.

November 2008

Playing with postcolonialism

Le plays with this genre, yet ultimately refuses to be confined by it, choosing to use aspects of the immigrant experience in his writing, yet avoiding any sense of didacticism.

October 2008

Not merely personal

Lichtenstein and Hands present two issues that are both regularly addressed in British theatre: the Holocaust and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Nothing particularly new is said in either of the two plots, but this does not take away from the success of the production.

Theatre
July 2008

Endless silliness

The cast are all fantastic singers and Casey Nicholaw’s choreography in the big chorus numbers makes for exhilarating viewing. Sanjeev Bhaskar is not a singer but he copes adequately with the material, his voice only flagging towards the end of the show.

Theatre
August 2007

One-Man Star Wars Trilogy

Ross’ energy is impressive as he races through the trilogy. Not much attention to paid to plot, the assumption being that we all know what happens already. The focus is on the one-liners, the bits from the films that everyone remembers and drunkenly quotes at parties.

Theatre

A History of Scotland (in 60 Minutes or Less)

This is a great children’s show because it doesn’t fall into the trap of patronising its audience. There are plenty of very silly jokes but also many aimed at an adult crowd, with particularly funny jibes at the world of theatre. Occasional over-the-top moments do not ruin this extremely fun show

Theatre

Mile End

Directing team Liam Jarvis and Hannah Barker combine flawless lighting and sound design, highly original physical theatre techniques and a simple yet deeply affecting plot to create a piece of work that will leave audiences shell-shocked long after they leave the theatre

Theatre

Escaping Hamlet

Hamlet’s passion for theatre has been expanded into a major theme that drives the production, his selfishness and inability to commit attributed not to madness but to the desire of a young person to escape and find a creative path of his own.

Theatre

Dickens Unplugged: The Complete Works of Charles Dickens (Abridged)

The audience may have been mainly people over the age of 60 – the Dickens-reading demographic is not as broad as it could be, even after the success of recent BBC adaptations - but this show is fun and energetic enough to entertain Fringe-goers of all ages.

Theatre
July 2007

Complete with imperfections

For some reason director and co-writer Milos Forman decided it would be a good idea for everyone to speak English with a vague Spanish accent; now this is all well and good for Javier Bardem who is, in fact, Spanish, but everyone else, particularly Natalie Portman, just sounds silly.

Film

Culture Wars was included in creativetourists’ Top 25 UK Arts & Culture Blogs 2009.