In the Critics this week

Somnambulant theatre critics, Jarvis Cocker's hangovers, and a memoir of Sufism.

In the critics section of this week's New Statesman, Daisy Donovan, after partaking in a midday "Bacchanalian feast", reviews The Roomate. Aside from praising the film for having a "nicely dour, puritanical atmosphere", she can find nothing "more encouraging to say about it". Rachel Cooke relishes the ability of the television to allow a "decent director" and a "fine bunch of actors can make the ersatz appear magically authentic": this works in favour of The Crimson Petal and the White, which turns out to be a "compelling thing". A A Gill recalls the somnambulance of theatre critics, before turning his attention to Terrence Rattigan's Cause Célèbre at the Old Vic -- the latter being "an evening that grips". In the music section, Jarvis Cocker argues that the "election of New Labour ushered in a long hangover", wondering whether there is "anything on earth more pathetic than a hangover". Mariella Frostrup listens to Liberia Women Democracy Radio: "it's hard to describe what a lifeline this minute station provides".

In books, John Gray reviews Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties by Robert Irwin, concluding that "the core of the book is a sincere spiritual search, recounted with rare candour and arresting insight"; Critic at large Alain de Botton ponders the art of conversation and asks how we can make talking to each other more worthwhile.

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Brexit… Leg-sit

A new poem by Jo-Ella Sarich. 

Forgot Brexit. An ostrich just walked into the room. Actually,
forget ostriches too. Armadillos also have legs, and shoulder plates
like a Kardashian.  Then I walked in, the other version of me, the one
with legs like wilding pines, when all of them

are the lumberjacks. Forget forests. Carbon sinks are down
this month; Switzerland is the neutral territory
that carved out an island for itself. My body
is the battleground you sketch. My body is
the greenfield development, and you
are the heavy earthmoving equipment. Forget
the artillery in the hills
and the rooftops opening up like nesting boxes. Forget about

the arms race. Cheekbones are the new upper arms
since Michelle lost out to Melania. My cheekbones
are the Horsehead Nebula and you are the Russians
at warp speed. Race you to the finish. North Korea

will go away if you stop thinking
about it. South Korea will, too. Stop thinking
about my sternum. Stop thinking about
the intricacy of my mitochondria. Thigh gaps
are the new wage gaps, and mine is like
the space between the redwood stand
and the plane headed for the mountains. Look,

I’ve pulled up a presentation
with seven different eschatologies
you might like to try. Forget that my arms
are the yellow tape around the heritage tree. Forget
about my exoskeleton. Forget
that the hermit crab
has no shell of its own. Forget that the crab ever
walked sideways into the room.
Pay attention, people.

Jo-Ella Sarich is a New Zealand-based lawyer and poet. Her poems have appeared in the Galway Review and the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017.

This article first appeared in the 17 August 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump goes nuclear