Cambridge Edition March 2023 - Web



MARCH 2023

BIG SKIES & HIDDEN GEMS East Anglia’s most stylish staycations DAY TRIPPING Heritage, hospitality & horse racing in Newmarket

Amazing offers & delicious deals!




hile we savour the start of spring here in Cambridge, there’s plenty to enjoy on the local culture scene, beginning with Watersprite: our city’s thriving student film festival. Director Charlotte Matheson shares how the event is fostering the next generation of filmmaking talent on page 36. Also flying the flag for local creativity is acclaimed author and Cambridge resident Kate Rhodes, who tells us about her moody murder mystery The Brutal Tide on page 31. In honour of International Women’s Day this month, local historian Antony Carpen – aka the ‘Cambridge Town Owl’ – tells of his fascinating research on radical female change-makers in the city, while Theatre Royal artistic director Owen Calvert-Lyons gives the lowdown on his powerful production of Lucy Kirkwood’s The Children . Excitingly, March also sees the return of Restaurant Week: a chance to eat out for a fraction of the normal price, celebrating our city’s food scene and hard-working hospitality industry. Discover this year’s deals and special offers on page 44. We’ve also got news of new openings (including the return of the Kingston Arms pub!), a look at East Anglia’s most amazing minibreaks, cinema picks, great gigs and more. Enjoy the issue and see you next month! Hello, spring!

EDITORIAL Editor in chief Nicola Foley 01223 499459 Editorial director Roger Payne Deputy chief sub editor Matthew Winney Sub editor Ben Gawne Junior sub editor Lori Hodson ADVERTISING Sales director Sam Scott-Smith 01223 499457 Ad manager Maria Francis 01223 492240 CONTRIBUTORS Miriam Balanescu, Mark Box, Alex Fice, Charlotte Griffiths, Charlotte Phillips, Anna Taylor, Angelina Villa-Clarke & Elisha Young DESIGN & PRODUCTION Senior designer Lucy Woolcomb Junior designer Hedzlynn Kamaruzzaman

Ad production Man-Wai Wong MANAGING DIRECTORS Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck

Cambridge Edition Magazine Bright Publishing Ltd, Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambridgeshire CB22 3HJ, 01223 499450, • All rights reserved. Material contained in this publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior permission of the publishers. • Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of Cambridge Edition or Bright Publishing Ltd, which do not accept any liability for loss or damage. • Every effort has been made to ensure all information is correct. • Cambridge Edition is a free publication that is distributed in Cambridge and the surrounding area.




05 Wish List Step into spring with these beautiful buys from local indie retailers 07 Culture Club Exhibitions to inspire, theatre highlights, street- style portraits and big-screen must-sees 41 Food & Drink The latest from the local food scene, news of Restaurant Week and a trip to The Gonville 55 Travel From chic city breaks to wild coastal escapes, we round up East Anglia’s finest staycations 67 Newmarket Spotlight Discover the delights of our Suffolk neighbour, from fascinating museums to fab food and drink

75 Beauty We reveal cult beauty buys that deserve a spot on

everybody’s dressing table 77 Education


Local schools share how they’re engaging students with STEM – and why it matters 87 Interiors Beautiful bathroom inspiration and this month’s most covetable homeware buys 97 Store of the Month In the spotlight this month: local interior design firm Strive for Design 98 Gardens Anna makes her case for March being the best horticultural month of them all

Illustration by Lucy Woolcomb, inspired by an Instagram photo taken by @timcantab



WISH LIST March This month’s must-haves from local indies

1. The Mini Sophie, £415, Cambridge Satchel Company Fancy some new arm candy? This elegant little bag will bring a touch of vintage luxury to your outfits 2. PCBailey HW trousers, £38, Iris & Violet Sashay into spring in these marina blue beauties, featuring split detailing on the ankle for a modern twist 3. Luxe bee bowl, £19, Podarok Serve nibbles or store trinkets in this gorgeous decorative bowl by House of Disaster, available at Podarok 4. Fiesta cushion in bamboo and gold, £21.95, Angela Reed Velvety fabric, a soft gold hue and playful pompoms, this chic cushion is the perfect addition to any couch 5. Weekend bag, £42, Ark Big enough for a picnic blanket, snacks and anything else you might need for a great day out, this cotton bag will see you through spring and summer in style 6. David Stonehouse conserve pot, £38, Kettle’s Yard Part of an exclusive collection by local potter David Stonehouse, this stoneware receptacle has a smooth white glaze and pop of lemon-yellow 7. Blue textured pot, £28, Iris & Violet We love this Bloomingville plant pot’s Nordic colours and organic shapes – pick up yours from Iris & Violet


Culture Club

SEEING RED Catch cutting comedy from Sophie Duker at the Cambridge Junction on 24 March

SPRING TO LIFE coming up roses



CULTURE CLUB The must-see events around Cambridge this month Arts & Culture

KETTLE’S YARD LUCIE RIE: THE ADVENTURE OF POTTERY The latest exhibition at Kettle’s Yard offers a rare opportunity to experience Lucie Rie’s groundbreaking work in ceramics across six decades. Running from 4 March to 25 June, Lucie Rie: The Adventure of Pottery features over 100 works from private and public collections and shines a light on the artist’s remarkable output, which demonstrates exceptional elegance and experimentation. “We are delighted to collaborate with MIMA (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art) to present this major exhibition dedicated to the work of Lucie Rie,” says Andrew Nairne, director of Kettle’s Yard. “The pieces on display will showcase the breadth, versatility and beauty of Rie’s work across her long career, as well as her technical innovations that have permanently extended the language of studio pottery.” For more information about the exhibition, head to

31 Mar

On 31 March at the Town and Gown, join four fabulous frontwomen on an exploration of modern-day feminism through original songs about sex, scandal and sisterhood. Channelling divas like Fascinating Aïda and the Spice Girls, you can expect big voices, brassy tones, naughty humour and full-frontal vulgarity. For more info and to get your tickets, visit FLAT AND THE CURVES



ABRACADABRA! A Magical City Alex Fice speaks to The Pentacle Club – Cambridge’s most renowned magic group – ahead of its dazzling show at Cambridge Junction this month

mathematicians and scientists from the University have been club members. One of the most famous magicians in the magic community, Alex Elmsley – a computer scientist – was a club member in the 50s. Another notable example is Sir William Hawthorne, who was club president from 1970 to 1990. He was professor of applied thermodynamics, a fellow of Trinity College and later master of Churchill College, where the club met for a while. “Techniques used in magic are also of enormous interest to psychologists,” continues Hugh. “In fact, Gustav Kuhn, of Goldsmiths College, London, has written books on the subject and carried out scientific research in areas such as illusory experiences, magical thinking, misdirection and the scientific study of magic.” That said, you don’t have to be a great mathematician, scientist or psychologist to become a member of The Pentacle Club. The magic ingredients? “A sense of humour and a love of entertainment,” says Hugh. “I guess it’s true that magic is a set of puzzles that we hope people can’t solve; but the truth is, it’s all about creating moments of wonder while

The Cambridge Pentacle Club is one of the oldest magic clubs in the UK. Founded in 1919, by and for members of the University, it’s now open to all those in the local area and beyond with a love of the magical arts. Made up of around 25 to 30 regulars with a wide range of backgrounds and interests, this is a diverse collective. “Our members include a couple of talented under-18s, a chef, an ex-director of Saatchi and Saatchi, a graphic designer, a church administrator, an actor, an ex-postman, a former staff member of Cambridge University Press, plus a few software engineers!” according to the club’s secretary, Hugh Newsam, who is himself an engineering consultant for Siemens and has been a member of The Pentacle Club for 15 years. The names of a few of its members may also ring a bell: The club’s president is Jeremy Bond – aka JezO – a local entertainer and recent winner of the family entertainer of the year at the Blackpool Magic Convention. In 2022, he played Buttons in the Blackburn Empire Theatre’s panto, and in 2020 he made an appearance on Britain’s Got Talent alongside another notable Cambridge magician: Doctor Bondini – who just happens to be JezO’s father. A multi-generational group, the heritage of The Pentacle Club can be found throughout Cambridge – and, in some cases, is literally embedded in its bricks and mortar. Clare Hall Library used to be called the ‘Magic Room’, as a tribute to the activities of former owner of the house, Walter William Rouse Ball: a Cambridge mathematician and lawyer, and founder of The Pentacle Club. His legacy lives on in the room’s beautiful stained-glass windows, which incorporate magical words and numbers – puzzles which are yet to be solved. But what place does magic – an art form that delights in tricking the mind and defying explanation – have in a city renowned for pioneering scientific discoveries, where reason and logic have historically dominated? “Magic and science go hand in hand,” asserts Hugh. “Magic is the application of science, logic and misdirection to give the impression that we are breaking the laws of nature. Many well-regarded

making folks laugh and smile.” The Pentacle Club is currently

preparing to do just that at Cambridge Junction on 19 March. In conjunction with University of Cambridge Festival, the group will be performing its new show, The Magic of Cambridge , which promises to take the audience on an enchanting journey through the people, objects, ideas, words and inventions that have made the University of Cambridge famous throughout the world. “We can’t reveal too much at this stage, but I expect we will be influenced by Douglas Adams, John Maynard Keynes, Lord Byron, Charles Babbage, John Venn (of the famous diagram) and the amazing collections in the University’s museums – even one of the founders of the SAS spent time at the University,” says Hugh. “What we can be sure of is that it’s going to be a spectacular magic tour de force!” To find out more about the club, visit – and get your tickets to see The Magic of Cambridge from


Providing the cream of the comedy crop since 2002, Jesterlarf is launching a series of gigs that will see comics delve into their past to perform their greatest hits. Taking place at Cambridge Junction on 3 March, 7 April and 5 May, the gigs will see acts perform material from their old Edinburgh Fringe shows. “Some of these are over 20 years old, but like a classic LP, they stand the test of time!” explains Jesterlarf founder Andy White. “Over the years, many great Edinburgh shows never saw the light of day after the festival, so this offers the opportunity to watch some fantastic archive stand-up.” Up first, Dan Antopolski and Alexis Dubus: tickets are available for £20 per person.



Techniques used in magic are also of tremendous interest to psychologists

AS IF BY MAGIC The Pentacle Club enjoys a rich heritage as one of the world’s oldest magical societies. Its upcoming show will explore the varied history of the University of Cambridge




22 Mar

Listed as one of the most exciting contemporary blues guitarists on the scene, Aynsley Lister comes to Cambridge on 6 March. He’ll be joined by his live band for a showcase of his latest studio album, Along for the Ride , which weaves stories about everyday life. Next up is King No-One, a dynamic alt-rock group from York. Now one of the biggest emerging guitar bands in the country, they’ll be taking the Junction by storm on 7 March. The Comet is Coming follow on 8 March, taking crowds to sonic vistas with their latest album, Hyper- Dimensional Expansion Beam . Their music fuses synths, drums, sax and shakuhachi (a traditional Japanese flute) to deliver a refreshing sound. Roachford + Acantha Lang deliver a compelling display of rock and soul on 9 March, while Turin Brakes share their ninth studio album, Wide-Eyed Nowhere , on 10 March. Belfast band Stiff Little Fingers take to the stage on 14 March, reviving the songs of their 1979 album, Inflammable Material – generally regarded as one of the greatest punk records of all time. On 16 March, Gloria Scott will fill the Junction with her soulful voice; she’s provided backing vocals for The Supremes and Tina Turner, and collaborated with Barry White on her own records. Elles Bailey is stopping by on 22 March – her smoky voice and laser-focused determination have seen her soar to the forefront of the British blues and roots scene. There’ll also be gigs from Cambridge-based Fred’s House, Scottish folk band Rura and Aussie icons The Cat Empire. Plus, one of the UK’s most electrifying rappers, Lowkey, will perform at his first ever Cambridge concert on 25 March. To see the full line-up for the month, head to

Don’t miss! Mercury Prize-nominated music, the ultimate UV party and a Bake Off judge

CLUB CIRQUE ULTRA VIOLET CAMBRIDGE JUNCTION, 18 MARCH, 8PM-2AM, £24.50-£32 Neon Moon’s events have been listed in the top ten parties in the UK, and now they’re back in the Junction for a spectacular all-UV extravaganza, featuring world-class circus, cabaret and burlesque. Dress code: Neon Circus!

PRUE LEITH: NOTHING IN MODERATION CAMBRIDGE CORN EXCHANGE, 24 MARCH, 7.30PM, TICKETS FROM £28 Prue Leith spills the tea in her first ever live show, sharing the highs and lows of being a successful restaurateur, novelist, businesswoman and Bake Off judge. In the second half, she’ll be joined by Clive Tulloh for a live Q&A with the audience.


Raised in Cambridge, Nick Mulvey is a Mercury Prize-nominated singer and songwriter who has amassed 587 million streams globally. His third album, New Mythology , was released in 2022 – his first in five years. This tour will offer fans the first chance to hear it live.




Let the hilarity commence! There’s a whole lot of fresh comedic talent making its way to Cambridge Junction this month, so get ready for the easiest abdominal workout of your life! On 4 March, Alex Kealy explores Silicon Valley tech monopolies, advertising and addiction. His comedy has been receiving rave reviews that mark him out as one to watch. John Kearns takes the stage on 10 March with The Varnishing Days , followed by Simon Munnery – who’ll be turning his personal trials and tribulations into comedy gold on 11 March. Ray Bradshaw takes the mic on 21 March with his show, Deaf Com 1 , which covers teaching his son sign language and a disastrous trip to Bahrain. Sophie Duker offers an uproarious dose of stand-up on 24 March with her show Hag , while Anu Vaidyanathan (pictured right) tackles marriage and motherhood in BC:AD – Before Children, After Diapers on 25 March. Rounding off a month of stand-up stunners, Eshaan Akbar brings us The Pretender , which shines a light on all the times we’ve had to fake it till we make it… Join him on 31 March.

25 Mar



LEGALLY BLONDE: THE MUSICAL CAMBRIDGE ARTS THEATRE, 10-13 MAY, 7.30PM, £20-£35 Cambridge Operatic Society is back to paint the city pink with this fabulous musical favourite. Get ready to bend… and snap!


Cambridge theatregoers, get those diaries out! Kiss Me, Kate! Comes to the ADC Theatre this month from 15 to 25 March. Brought to you by the Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club, this show is a jazzy, soul-satisfying musical set in Baltimore in 1948. It follows a theatre company that’s putting on a performance of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew , whose cast and crew soon find the story playing out in their own lives. Gangsters, comedy and impressive dance numbers abound in this spectacular two-week showcase of some of the finest theatrical talent that Cambridge has to offer. A real treat for musical lovers! From 28 March to 1 April, find a collaboration between the ADC Theatre, Corkscrew Theatre Company and Cambridge Festival in the shape of Horrox . This new play is a tragicomedy about the astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks, who came to study the stars at the University of Cambridge aged 15, but tragically and mysteriously died aged 22 – having changed the way we see the universe forever. He was the first human to observe the transit of Venus and to answer one of humanity’s greatest mysteries: what is our place in the universe? At Cambridge Arts Theatre, the latest instalment of the Grace series hits the stage between 6 and 11 March, with Wish You Were Dead . Join Detective Superintendent Roy Grace and Cleo Morey on their first holiday together, as they attempt to escape dark worlds of murder and the mortuary. Things don’t quite go to plan, however, and soon they find themselves on the holiday from hell. Starring


LATE BLOOMER CAMBRIDGE CORN EXCHANGE, 11-12 OCTOBER 2024, 8PM, £35.50 Sarah Millican reflects on her transition from shy pre-teen into the funny woman she is today.

George Rainsford ( Casualty ), Clive Mantle ( Game of Thrones ) and Giovanna Fletcher (former winner of I’m A Celebrity ), this gripping play promises to show theatre at its very best! This is followed by Charlotte and Theodore from 27 March to 1 April. Starring Kris Marshall ( Love Actually , My Family , Death in Paradise ) and Eve Ponsonby ( Harry Potter and the Cursed Child ), this modern-day love story explores the relationship between two idealistic academics. It tracks their relationship over ten years, plotting highs and lows as they try to change their respective worlds while navigating the professional minefields of cancel culture, gender politics and power struggles in the workplace – all while keeping their love alive.

STEVE BACKSHALL’S OCEAN CAMBRIDGE CORN EXCHANGE, 15 OCTOBER, 2PM, £29.50 (£22.50 FOR UNDER-16s) Join the wildlife presenter for a deep-dive into the planet’s oceans, featuring stunts, experiments and cutting-edge science.



9 - 11 June

ALL NIGHT LONG The Cambridge Club Festival is back, with three days of music and arts in five performance areas; 2023 headliners include soul legends Lionel Richie (right), Grace Jones (below) and Kool & The Gang

Spring fling Two seasonal treats to get you in the mood for March

THRIPLOW DAFFODIL WEEKEND Enjoy vintage village fete fun at the Thriplow Daffodil Festival, returning from 25 to 26 March. With tea, cake, Morris dancing and a good dose of community spirit, it’s not to be missed!


Taking place in Grantchester Village Hall, this market will bring together food, decor and vintage treasures – offering a handpicked collection from local artisans on 25 March.



The Cambridge Club: back with a bang!

After dazzling with Diana Ross and Chic last summer, The Cambridge Club Festival returns from 9 to 11 June with another blistering line-up of eclectic entertainment. Topping the bill for Friday is boundary-pushing diva Grace Jones, while Sunday will see soul stars Kool & The Gang take to the stage. On Saturday, meanwhile, the festival will host the legendary Lionel Richie, singer of global hits including Dancing on the Ceiling , Hello and Three Times A Lady . Also making appearances at the Childerley Hall site are The Real Thing, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Billy Ocean and Alexander O’Neal, plus a host of top DJs including Craig Charles, Jo Whiley, Fat Tony and Eats Everything. Away from the big stages, there will be plenty of fun to seek out for all ages. In the Imagination Station, nestled in the orchard, catch kids’ theatre, arts, crafts and games, or discover comedy, talks and live podcasts at the Auditorium of Intrigue. When you get hungry, you’ll be spoilt for choice in the brand-new food court, serving up street food delicacies, vibrant vegan dishes and much more. If you want to make a weekend of it, the festival will once again offer camping tickets (from £229.75 each), which come with a host of perks – including dedicated wellness activities and after-hours musical performances. For the VIP treatment, go for the Clubhouse experience, where you’ll be treated to complimentary food and drink, a luxurious seating area and posh toilets! Clubhouse tickets start at £222 per day.


1 MARCH RANDY FELTFACE: FELTOPIA Cambridge Junction, 8pm, £21.50 3 MARCH SARA PASCOE Cambridge Corn Exchange, 7.30pm, from £18 9 MARCH RHYS JAMES: SPILT MILK Cambridge Junction, 8pm, £19 17-18 MARCH BRIDGET CHRISTIE: WHO AM I? Cambridge Junction, 7.30pm, £20

30 MARCH PHIL WANG: WANG IN THERE BABY! Cambridge Corn Exchange, 7.30pm, £25




Fancy a spring day out? Enjoy a tour of incredible Ely Cathedral – a feat of medieval craftsmanship and engineering, and one of our area’s most famous landmarks. On the Octagon Tower Tour, explore the beautiful wooden lantern suspended over the centre of the building’s interior, or follow in the footsteps of medieval monks and enjoy fabulous Fenland views on the West Tower Tour. The St Etheldreda Tour, meanwhile, explores the life and legacy of the East Anglian saint, while the Monastic Tour and Tea features medieval monastery buildings, monk’s tales as well as a delicious afternoon tea.

Check out these three highlights!

THE TALENT Recorded voices provide a soundtrack to daily life, but have you ever thought about the people to whom those voices belong? From 29-30 March at the Junction, The Talent offers a surreal, thought-provoking depiction of the life and purpose of a voice- over artist in a world increasingly filled with audio debris. A show about human presence in the 21st century, it looks at the shifting status of the voice and asks what its value may be in a non-human future.

DEAD CATS Cover-ups, political jargon and deliberate deceit provide the premise for the latest work from Proto-type Theatre at the Junction on 15 March. Dead Cats is a sophisticated blend of writing, performance and filmmaking to show the truths behind everyday fictions. It’s the third contemporary theatre piece in Proto-type’s acclaimed Truth to Power Project, offering a socially engaged exploration of power, democracy, truth, protest, privacy, conspiracy and control.

FIREDANCE Strictly stars Karen Hauer and Gorka Marquez will raise the temperature at Cambridge Corn Exchange on 8 March with a scintillating display of rhythm and passion in Firedance: Reignite 2023 ! Expect sizzling choreography with dances inspired by Romeo and Juliet , Moulin Rouge , Carmen and West Side Story . They will be joined by fire specialists and a live band, in a performance that promises to turn up the heat for a fiery evening of dance.



FUNNY BUSINESS Commoners’ Comedy Edition speaks to the founders of Commoners’ Comedy, Ali Warwood and Harriet Wells-Martin – two mental health nurses trying to make the world a happier place by tickling funny bones


Tell us all about the origins of Commoners’ Comedy.

FOUNDING FIGURES Ali and Harriet (below) are the creators of Commoners’ Comedy

Ali: It started at the Corner House pub, back when they used to do live events. Initially, it was a place for amateur and up-and-coming comedians, but there was also a noticeable appetite for more intimate, independent comedy clubs in Cambridge. I think people were finding that going to bigger venues to see a comedy show could be really expensive – and even then, you’re often far away from the performer and don’t get the intimacy you tend to find in smaller comedy clubs in the city. Intimate shows have an amazing atmosphere that everybody just loves!

Harriet: …Why did you really start it?

its own appeal for the comedians themselves. It gives them a place to try out new material alongside improving current material – that’s not to say it’s unpolished, but it’s nice to have vulnerability from acts that are really successful. When we initially restarted Commoners’, we wanted it to be a place where up-and-coming acts got to be on the same bill as high-profile ones, many of whom have had work on TV or big successful shows. This helps new comedians build their skills and develop their comedy, which is something quite unique about Commoners’.

Ali: Well, I was only just starting out in comedy and wanted to get more stage time for myself! [Laughs] I thought if I compered a gig every month, that would be really good for my own development.

for some people. They come to Thrive, have a bit of dinner, order some drinks and settle in for a night of comedy!

How did you get into comedy management?

H: Commoners’ was relaunched after a bit of a hiatus last July, which is when I got more involved with logistics and headliner bookings. I have some links in the TV world which has certainly helped us bring in a different type of headliner from previous shows, but to be honest I don’t really think it’s about the line-up most of the time – it’s that intimate comedy club feeling that keeps bringing people back.

What plans do you have for the year ahead?

A: I think we’re just really enjoying putting on the monthly club night. It would be nice to do some pop-ups and corporate gigs, too. We did a Commoners’ kids event which was really popular, so we have another one of those next year. H: I do think it’s really nice to have a solid club every month and I wouldn’t want to overstretch to the detriment of it… that being said, we have been approached by some high-profile comedians about staging Edinburgh previews, so I think in May, June and July we may increase our nights to be able to bring more comedians to Commoners’ – watch this space! Commoners’ Comedy Club takes place at Thrive on the first Friday of every month. Tickets and line-ups can be found via the website.

Who has performed so far?

H: Since the relaunch, we’ve had some incredible acts and mixed-bill shows that have included Lou Sanders, Laura Smyth, Ian Stone, Darran Griffiths and Josh Jones. Alongside these, we’ve had lots of local (and some less local) comedians who’ve smashed it and have been such a joy to watch. And obviously every month you get the comedic powerhouse that is Ali Warwood, MCing the nights, so that’s obviously the main selling point!

Does Commoners’ Comedy have a unique approach in terms of the comedy it offers?

A: We have up-and-coming and exciting acts coming through Commoners’, and alongside these more established comedians who really know their craft. We’re very conscious about not booking the same types of acts, so we try to have different styles of character comedy, musical comedy and one-liners.

Tell me about the venue you have chosen.

H: Thrive has such a good ethos and that comes through in how they support Commoners’. It feels nice to be doing something that benefits them as well as having a laugh. It’s a full night out

H: A lot of the acts we’re getting may not have played a smaller club for a while, which holds





Leading playwright Lucy Kirkwood’s The Children will be brought to life at the Theatre Royal this month


O ver the course of the past decade, the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmund’s has been staging productions of plays handpicked by their very own artistic director, Owen Calvert-Lyons; plays which he purports to be the crème de la crème of theatre written in the last ten years. The Children , Lucy Kirkwood’s tension- building tale of nuclear disaster and unravelling relationships, is up next. Taking place in a seaside town, a retired married couple – both former nuclear scientists – live a sequestered, peaceful life, until an old friend arrives and upsets the balance of their lives. “It’s a brilliant play,” enthuses Owen, “beautifully written by one of our country’s most exciting playwrights. It’s a really powerful drama. And I think that there’s an audience in this region who want to see big, important powerful plays. To an extent, it’s about climate change, which is probably the biggest thing facing all of us right now. It’s also particularly important in this county, because the play deals with aspects of nuclear power. At the point we selected this play, the government was right on the cusp of giving the go ahead to Sizewell C.” Kirkwood is also the brains behind Chimerica , winner of the Olivier award for best new play in 2013, among an impressive array of plaudits. With a cast of just three, the dialogue is what propels The Children along, gradually teasing out the true nature of the relationships between characters and keeping audiences on their toes. “There’s lots going on both in what is said and what is left unsaid,” explains Owen. “That demands brilliant actors able to convey the full spectrum of meaning in that text. “Like all the great stories, nothing is given to us on a plate and we have to work it out ourselves.” A huge drive behind Owen’s keen initiative to host productions of the finest contemporary plays is the chance to bring top work to smaller theatres and local

What unites every play is ‘the way they wrestle with very big ideas’, exemplified by Home, I’m Darling , which was showcased last year. “The joy of theatre is going to a production and being able to – for an hour and a half to two hours – think about something complicated, but in a really enjoyable, pleasurable way, to reflect on some of the big questions,” Owen suggests. While putting on productions of the best contemporary plays may seem like an obvious choice, it is relatively unusual for regional theatres. “The reason lots of venues programme older works is because they know their audience will be familiar with those names,” says Owen. “A younger playwright or a newer play title feels like more of a risk.” Kirkwood’s play tackles generational responsibility and passing on the mistakes of the past to those living in the present. The ‘post-disaster’ story has already enticed the well-known actress Imogen Stubbs as its lead, while the intimacy of the Theatre Royal suits the play to a tee. “The world feels pretty bleak and things feel pretty broken,” muses Owen. “There’s always something very hopeful about these sorts of narratives, because they’re often about building back or a return, the green shoots of change coming through.” HERE AND NOW Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds has been putting on bold contemporary plays ever since Owen Calvert-Lyons took over as artistic director


audiences. They no longer have to venture all the way to London for world-class theatrical experiences. “It comes from a passion for regional theatre and audiences, believing that people who live in our area shouldn’t have to travel into London to see the greatest plays of the last ten years. Versions of those should be created on their doorstep,” insists Owen. “We’re very lucky in the UK that we’ve got a really thriving theatre ecology – and always have,” Owen continues. “The big London stages have all been populated by artists coming through regional theatre, so it’s always been an important part of the overall picture.”

We’re lucky in the UK – we’ve got a thriving theatre ecology

The Children can be seen at the Theatre Royal from 10 to 25 March




A SHOW ABOUT ME(N) Comedy, candour and consent: Alex Fice catches up with Grace Campbell ahead of her upcoming show at Cambridge Junction

offering a relentlessly funny and honest snapshot of her life and attitudes towards traditionally taboo topics. However, she has also written frankly in The Guardian about how – after being sexually assaulted in Las Vegas last year – she felt unable to approach the police, due to the sex-positive nature of her comedy. Within the article, she talks about imagining her own content – passages from her book, sketch-style videos from her Instagram, or sections of her stand-up comedy – being used against her if she tried to bring the case to justice. As a result of the experience, Grace is determined to increase her activism and campaigning around the subject of consent. “Unfortunately, not much progress has been made in the last few years and so much more needs to be done,” she says. “There are many flaws in the system, making it really difficult to convict the perpetrators of sexual violence. There’s also not much mental health support for victims. On top of that, a lot of people still don’t really know the basic notions of consent. It’s a huge topic and something where that article barely even scratches the surface.” These other main passions – writing and feminist activism – are clearly of great importance to Grace. Would she ever leave stand-up behind to pursue them full- time? “No, I will always do it. Definitely,” she assures us. “It’s the thing I enjoy most, and makes me feel the most present. Even if I became, like, a Hollywood star, I would always do stand-up!”

7 Mar

CRITICAL COMEDY Grace Campbell uses her platform to break down barriers of all kinds

H ilariously outspoken, feisty and full of wit, Grace Campbell is a certified comic tour de force. Following a hugely successful sold-out run at Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year, the 28-year-old is currently touring her latest stand-up offering, A Show About Me(n) , promising to shine a light on the comedian’s complex relationship – and relationships – with men. It’s a topic Grace isn’t afraid to speak about openly or indeed explicitly, talking breezily about her sex life as if in the company of close friends rather than a room full of strangers. “When I first started out, I mainly talked about politics and my childhood in politics,” says Grace, who is the daughter of Alastair Campbell, best-known as Tony Blair’s spin doctor. “However, I found it didn’t lend itself to my style, so I started writing about my personal life instead, which I enjoy so much more. I love talking about my family, friends and what’s been going on in my sex life, it’s such a great way to connect with people.”

In fact, she makes a point of getting the audience involved in all her shows, asking direct questions about their own relationships, often eliciting extraordinarily candid responses. “I love hearing what other people are going through,” Grace enthuses. “I feel my shows always have very ‘no judgement’ vibes; the audience opens up a lot. Probably because I’ve already told them so much about myself, a lot of which is quite shocking and doesn’t paint me in the most amazing light! But I love giving advice and it’s great each show feels like loads of people hanging out together, sharing stuff about their love lives.” Grace’s ‘no judgement’ attitude is a

common thread throughout her work. In 2020 she published her first book, titled Amazing Disgrace: A Book About “Shame” , See Grace perform A Show About Me(n) live at Cambridge Junction on 7 March. Tickets are available from I feel my shows always have very ‘no judgement’ vibes



CAMBRIDGE EDITION Book Club From a murder mystery to a retelling of Greek myth, meet our top literary picks for March


I Have Some Questions For You


Star podcaster and professor Bodie Kane is returning to her alma mater Granby, an exclusive New Hampshire boarding school, to instruct the next generation in journalism and podcasting. Her return to the school is a mixed bag of emotions: she has deftly avoided all the big reunions so far, only venturing back on campus to keep in touch with her childhood friend Fran, who also attended Granby and now lives and works at the school. Waves of nostalgia crash over Bodie, but it’s not just memories of her traumatic pre-Granby adolescence that are causing discomfort. The return forces her to confront a tragedy that hangs over the whole school – the violent murder of Bodie’s roommate, Thalia Keith, in their senior year, which rocked the nation and is now the subject of mass speculation concerning the convicted man’s guilt. Every shred of evidence from 1995 is being re-examined online and hotly debated by amateur sleuths, and people are starting to question the verdict that saw a young Black man jailed for Thalia’s murder. As part of her course, Bodie has asked her students to make a short podcast on a specific topic. When a student suggests re-investigating Thalia’s murder, Bodie realises with a jolt that finding out what happened might be the real reason she accepted

the job. But it quickly becomes apparent that we are not alone in Bodie’s head. There is someone else in the audience with us, directing her narrative to a member of faculty that taught her in her teenage years. “I didn’t understand yet that I was there on your trail, that I wanted answers from you,” she remarks. “But the subconscious has a funny way of working things out.” I Have Some Questions For You is immersive and irresistible from the get- go. The central mystery is compelling on its own, but the book also offers up a hypnotic and provocative mix of dark academia, true crime, podcasting, the #MeToo movement and third-wave feminism that make it hard to put down.

Immersive and irresistible from the get-go... impossible to put down

INQUISITION Rebecca Makkai, acclaimed American writer and author of The Great Believers, has written a brilliant contemporary murder mystery




29-year-old Canadian Maggie is in the throes of divorce from her partner Jon, with whom she shared a cat, an apartment and a whole heap of hopes and dreams. Having married early, she is now divorcing just as her friends are starting to pair off and have children, yet she is determined to step off life’s treadmill gracefully and become a Surprisingly Young Divorcee™. However, as anyone who has been through a divorce will know, a conscious uncoupling is a rare event indeed. This is Heisey’s first novel and her career as a TV writer (including Schitt’s Creek ) is clearly in evidence. Maggie’s tone is brilliantly deadpan and painfully self-sardonic as she wrestles with the idea that her break-up might be a personal failing – or that her marriage was doomed from the outset and could never have been fixed. During the first year following her divorce, Maggie takes tentative steps back into life and the dating pool with some success and some nightmares, while her cluster of close friends surround her with support, despite Maggie’s trauma-based bad behaviour. It is the nocturnal wondering that is so particularly brilliantly depicted, especially the chapters listing Maggie’s search history as she hunts for late-night meaning in the glowing rectangle of her phone. Really Good Actually is a funny, quick-witted, sensationally well-observed book about modern divorce and breaking down while breaking up.


This superb, sweeping family epic is set in modern Nigeria and follows the interwoven, yet very disparate lives of two children from opposite sides of the tracks. Newly qualified doctor Wúràolá is in the first year of life in medicine – she is her family’s pride and joy, and on the cusp of marriage to her childhood sweetheart Kúnlé. Yet his sudden and unpredictable mood changes are starting to make her pause for thought. On the other side of the narrative is Eniolá, whose despondent father is in the grip of depression after being made redundant. Eniolá, his sister Bùsólá and

his mother must work out how to pay the bills. His attendance at school is uncertain and he assists the local tailor in the hope of scraping together for the fees. Wúràolá and Eniolá both have their own hopes and dreams, but political machinations and power-hungry individuals unexpectedly shape their destinies. Before long, their lives are enmeshed in a tangled fashion. Breathtaking in scope and brilliantly descriptive; a powerful novel about family, love, the pursuit of happiness and the unseen ways our choices affect the lives of others around us.

Breathtaking in scope, brilliantly descriptive; a powerful novel

WITH ACCLAIM This pick comes from the author of the Women’s Prize and Wellcome Book Prize shortlisted novel, Stay With Me




This book deserves its title: an extraordinary debut packed with supernatural wonders, human emotion and fiercely drawn, visceral characters. Dazzling tells us the parallel stories of young Treasure – who finds herself making deals with spirits to keep from starvation – and schoolgirl Ozoemena, who is battling with her destiny of becoming a leopard, a superhero protector for her family and people. Yet to fully inhabit this role, she must first die. As girls at her boarding school disappear, she needs to take charge of her power – but at what cost? The book slips between worlds as easily as the characters slide between languages, revealing layers and ways of being that co-exist alongside their everyday lives. Both girls’ fathers have left their families, making choices that ripple throughout generations, but what are the repercussions for the women left behind? What terrible bargains will they strike to find their own paths? Gripping, otherworldly and unforgettable, this excellent novel means Emelumadu is definitely one to watch.

The Heroines


In this new retelling of an ancient Greek tragedy, we are shown clearly how truth can be twisted, turned and reformed into myth to be used as a warning and a weapon. The common version of Phaedra’s story sees the young princess falling in love with Hippolytus, celibate son of Phaedra’s older husband, King Theseus. When Hippolytus rejects Phaedra’s advances, she accuses him of rape – King Theseus then curses his son, causing him to be killed by the gods and resulting in Phaedra’s death by her own hand. Shepperson’s love of classics is plain to see in this easily imagined retelling, where the nervous, homesick

princess is raped by headstrong and spoiled Hippolytus. Yet the patriarchal society of ancient Athens means ‘any man can throw words up into the air, and it is women who must pay when those words land’. Creating the vivid impression of reading a court document: the characters give their grim testimony, weaving tales around each other, gradually filling in details of Phaedra’s story. Yet despite the truth of events being evident to modern, sympathetic readers, will the braying men of ancient court be swayed? The Heroines is a strong, learned addition to the growing canon of contemporary reimaginings of ancient myths.

Shepperson’s love of classics is plain to see in this retelling

TWIN TALES Shepperson’s revising of a Greek tragedy is vivid (above) while Ashe’s debut turns dark (left)


In 1930s London, twin sisters Clara and Olivia Marionetta spend their days dancing as members of the Vic-Wells ballet company; their lives a relentless rehearsal, punctuated by performance. Preparing for a show, the twins are increasingly aware of a feeling of being watched – not just by the audiences that flock to their performances – and unsettling Gothic tension begins to seep across the stage. Debut writer Lucy Ashe effortlessly depicts the world of professional ballet, taking us by the hand and leading us backstage into the private world hidden behind the scenery. It takes real skill to convey the breathless excitement felt before a visit from a famed Russian instructor, the thrill at seeing all the principal dancers gather before rehearsal, and that heady mix of artistic admiration and cut-throat competitiveness. The admin of life as a ballerina is beautifully drawn: the satin of the girls’ hard-working shoes, the texture and cut of the coats they slide into when venturing out into London after dark, where they snatch at normality before returning to do it all again tomorrow. This is an exquisite book with a disturbingly dark heart: at what point does passion turn into dangerous obsession?



Peek into the process behind Kate Rhodes’ sixth Isles of Scilly mystery, The Brutal Tide A Cambridge WRITER’S DIARY

I got my first publishing deal about 12 years ago, but didn’t want to give up my job. I was living here in Cambridge and working at a college in London. To walk away from that career, which I’ve built slowly and carefully over the years, felt like madness. But my agent said to me, “You’ve got a three-book deal, you need to make each of those as good as you can.” The year is set out in very distinct patterns: I write a lot in the winter. It makes sense to do the bulk of the writing on those chilly days when you’re stuck indoors. Each year, I try to get down to the Isles of Scilly to do some research – but also take a holiday. It’s like going back in time. There’s only one supermarket for the five islands and you go between them on these tiny little boats. What motivates me through these books is the characters I’m creating. It gets to the point where they feel very real. Kitto finds the islands liberating and frustrating. He’s a complex character, and I love writing about him and his world. If you manage to create characters that you are genuinely interested in and give them plenty of backstory and quirks, it’s not that hard to spend time in their company. The human mind really interests me. I was able to really enjoy shapeshifting and getting inside the mind of my first detective Alice Quentin. She is living in

writing is a little bit like ventriloquism; you’re throwing your voice into somebody else’s character. It starts with the location. I often sit around looking at photographs of the islands and trying to imagine living on St Martin’s, with growing and cutting flowers for the winter being the main industry; what kinds of crimes are likely to occur? Sometimes I’ll just get a really strong visual image in my mind. At the start of one of my books, I imagined this woman dressed as a bride dangling a rope against a great black granite cliff. The way I work has been even more visual for the last couple of years. These books have been optioned and are now in production for TV, meaning I’ve written a couple of scripts that will soon be shooting pilots. They’re very keen for me to make these books as visual as possible, and really locate them in the islands. You’re either a visual thinker or not. The pictures come to my mind before the words. I like not writing about the territory I live on. It frees me from having to think about it when I’m walking down the streets. My mind goes elsewhere. That tourist mindset is useful – when I go on holiday somewhere, I want to see everything. I want to climb the mountain, get on the boat and do all the trips, because I may only go to that place once. If I go down to Scilly, it’s like taking a deep dive into their culture. I interview a lot of people. I’ll try and get out to all five islands if possible, to feed me with information for when I come back to Cambridge and start writing that story.

a little flat in London, one of the busiest cities in the world. To suddenly transport my imaginative world down to Scilly, where some of the islands only have 80 people living on them, was a joy. It suddenly felt like I could breathe again in this big, expansive landscape. It felt quite liberating to go from this tiny woman, five foot tall, to this guy who is six-and-a-half feet. All MAKING WAVES The latest instalment of Kate Rhodes’ acclaimed mystery series is available to purchase now from all good bookshops

The pictures come to my mind before the words



Cambridge Photographer Mark Box shares some of his favourite portraits from the streets of Cambridge this month – can you spot anyone you know?

Appropriately dressed for these cold snaps – and gorgeous colours!

ABOUT THE PROJECT Humans of Cambridge is an Instagram photoblog by local photographer Mark Box. It began as a lockdown project and has turned into a sensation, featuring an ever-growing number of Cambridge’s colourful characters on the @humanofcambridge grid. Mark is out most days snapping, and can usually be found in the Market Square, on King’s Parade, Burrell’s Walk and Garret Hostel Bridge – your best bet for being papped is to head out around lunchtime wearing something suitably eye-catching!

New Order’s Blue Monday springs to mind. An 80s vibe, with a hippy twist

You never know who you’ll meet on your travels through the streets of Cambridge. This is @mikeincambridge and his lovely dog Tilly


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