Jane Casey: On My Culture Radar
The author on watching Tom Hiddleston on stage, and how Andrew Scott influenced her new novel
Author Jane Casey
Current favourite book
Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins, which is coming out in April. It’s set in Oxford, and it’s about a little girl who goes missing and her nanny is interviewed. It’s evocative, creepy and well constructed . . . not quite a crime novel, it’s more crime-adjacent. Lucy Atkins is a great writer. It’s literary but so easy to read. The main character is a mathematician in her spare time, and the research that must have gone into it is amazing. Highly recommended.
I’m excited about going to Glas in Chatham Street in Dublin this weekend. It’s a vegetarian and vegan restaurant that’s just opened up, and anyone I know who’s been has posted the most wonderful pictures of the food. In London, where I live, you get so many different types of cuisine, but it’s interesting that a high-end vegetarian restaurant now has enough people to support it in Dublin. Hopefully it will be a huge success.
This year I went to see Betrayal by Harold Pinter, which was in London but has now moved to Broadway. Tom Hiddleston, Zawe Ashton and Charlie Cox starred. It’s a bare stage, there’s no interval and the three actors are on stage the entire time. Yet it’s absolutely riveting, and shows just how cruel people can be to the people they love. I saw it twice because it was so good. The story is played out backwards, so it starts off at the end, after Tom Hiddleston’s character’s wife and his best friend have an affair. Then it goes back through different scenes from their time together, lying to one another, and when the husband finds out, he doesn’t confront them immediately.
I found it heartbreaking because at the beginning of the play, the characters are so damaged, and at the end of the play, when they’re at the start of the events we’ve just seen, they’re so happy and looking forward to life. It’s a portrayal of how damaging it is once you start lying in a relationship, and when the trust goes.
I’m going to the Bridget Riley exhibition in the Hayward Gallery. I was taught about her in school, but I would really like to know more – she’s famous for her optical illusion art, but she did a huge amount of work that I’m not familiar with. I think women’s art has been overlooked for so long, and Bridget Riley is one of a few female artists who’s been celebrated during her life.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Lewis Capaldi’s Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent. He’s very middle of the road, but I just love tortured men feeling emotional and singing about it. That’s my favourite thing.
Andrew Scott. I’m writing a book at the moment that has a character who’s both likeable and evil, and for some reason I hear it in Andrew Scott’s voice. I saw him this year in a Noël Coward play, Present Laughter, and he was so funny and talented. [He’s different] when he’s being the Hot Priest [in Fleabag], and different when he’s being Moriarty. His range is unbelievable, but he’s always fascinating.
I listened to Uncover, from the Canadian Broadcasting Company, about the 1999 disappearance of Sharmini Anandavel, who was 15 at the time. Her body was found shortly afterwards so it wasn’t one of those drawn-out investigations, but the continuing damage from it is striking. We’re all fascinated with crime, but something about the podcast format lends itself to exploring, at length, something like a single case. I can’t think of many formats where you get 12 hours of interviews, discussions, witness statements and the police talking about their involvement.
I also listened to The Teacher’s Pet podcast, about an Australian woman who disappeared. It left me with so many questions that I want answered. That podcast has given rise to a court case in Australia, which is ongoing, so they’re sometimes important in bringing people forward who may have hung back.
Social media profile
Marian Keyes (@MarianKeyes) is so much herself on all forms of social media. She’s brilliant. The other person is Sali Hughes on Instagram (@salihughes), who’s The Guardian’s beauty journalist. I buy more make-up because of her Instagram than anything else. She’s a genius and she recommends the most amazing things. Watch with care.
I’m watching Southland on Amazon, an American police drama that’s a few years old, but I’m enjoying it. It’s got Ben McKenzie, who was in The OC, and a cast of excellent actors. They follow patrol officers and detectives, so you get to see police work in the round. Again, they play with how they tell the story. It starts off with a moment that happens later in the episode, and then you find out how they’ve ended up there. It’s shocking in places, and quite graphic, but nothing beats a good police drama.
My sons and I are excited about seeing Black Widow, which comes out next year. My younger son, who’s seven, was disgusted that Black Widow didn’t have her own film – he’s my little feminist. The trailer came out the other day, and we’ve already watched it about six times. The film seems to be Scarlett Johansson going back to her roots in Russia, and it looks full of good action sequences.
Cruel Acts is out now, published by HarperCollins