Spotlight: Orange Polar Bear at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Hi everyone!

I have something a little different today – I wanted to share my experience seeing a play recently. I have always wanted to see more theatre – my Royal Shakespeare Company discount card and loyalty card remain unused at the moment! This was a short-notice event for me but I don’t regret a second.

Orange Polar Bear is a play made in collaboration between British and Korean acting organisations, including The REP itself, the National Theater Company of Korea, Hanyong Theatre and Birmingham City University. It ran from the 1st-10th of November, and I saw some tweets a few days in and spontaneously decided to snap up some of the last few tickets for the 9th for myself and a friend. As both of us are interested in Korean culture, it was a great opportunity to act on our interests on a local scale.

Photo from The REP Website – I wish I could get my own copy of the promotional poster. This is beautiful and I’d love a memento for my wall.

It was my first time at the theatre. It’s wedged in between the Library of Birmingham and the ICC, and sometimes you can’t see it above all of the construction happening in the Paradise Circus area at the moment. Its also connected to the Library via the ground floor, where you can kill some time before or after a show… in the daytime, anyway – it closes early, unfortunately.

From this point, this review contains spoilers, although to my knowledge this play won’t be running any more, unfortunately.

The play is about two teenagers, William and Jiyoung in the UK and Korea respectively,  who are frustrated with their current lives, trying to navigate their personal lives while taking a peek at each others’. They express their worries and fears for the future both personally and on a bigger scale throughout the play. They feel distant from their lives as they live it, demonstrated by how they speak in the third person during their monologues.

The set was quite sparse, featuring a clean white background with doors and an upper platform, and clear perspex boxes used as seats and icebergs. We loved seeing projections of microwave contents and TV screens on the white doors, and the clean set allowed the play to move seamlessly between the UK and Korea and blend the two when needed.

William and Jiyoung. Rollers in my fringe was something I began to do only recently so Jiyoung was what I’d call a *big mood*. (from @OrangePolar18 on Twitter)

I found it interesting that all the supporting cast spoke their native language no matter what scenes (Korean or English language) they were in, adding to the bilingualism of the play and allowing audiences speaking either language to understand the other through context. My friend and I were a bit nervous about whether subtitles would be provided, and the answer was both yes and no. There were sections left entirely up to the context that we understood well regardless, with the help of the emotive cast.

Photo from the promotional Twitter for Orange Polar Bear, @OrangePolar18.

I was surprised to see school groups coming to see the play. In truth, it probably is a really interesting play for teenagers to watch especially as the main characters are also teens. Sometimes I wish my school had been more interested in promoting local theatre and experimental pieces like this. Not that I regret being able to see Hamlet live, but I wasn’t fully aware of the scope of theatre back then outside of Shakespeare, musicals and historically based pieces. Smaller pieces like this one, that take a chance of me stumbling upon them… those are what I’d like to see more of. I’ll have to keep my eyes open now.

Photo from the promotional Twitter for Orange Polar Bear, @OrangePolar18.

The plot itself was quite simple, yet also unexpected in the way it twisted and built up until the peak. As William and Jiyoung are almost always present on stage, aware of each other, we see what is happening to them as well as their reactions to each other’s lives. The duality of the plot helped to make it much more interesting. On a screen, I probably would not have thought twice before losing interest but in person, I got so immersed in it.

Also… I now totally stan Minju Kim and am looking forward to her future projects. The only issue being that it’s hard to Google her because there is a member of IZ*ONE with the same name! As Jiyoung, Minju Kim was so endearing and loveable. My friend and I agreed that the Korean cast, in particular, were fantastic. Cheongim Kang’s mini dance to Power Up by Red Velvet was a little fun alongside hearing Stormzy in the previous segment, like a musical trade. She switched between the role of idol schoolgirl Taehee and Jiyoung’s grandmother, two drastically different roles, so well! Ahron Hong’s performance as Jiyoung’s father was also really touching, and made me think of my own father and how he expresses himself.

That’s not to say the British cast weren’t also great. Rasaq Kukyoki and Tahirah Sharif had the audience invested in William and Sarah’s relationship – with what I could tell from the little gasps and laughs heard from behind me. Michael Kodwiw was less present, but this was not felt when we saw him as William’s friend Arthur and Sarah’s father. I only truly realised it now as I am typing.

Photo from the promotional Twitter for Orange Polar Bear, @OrangePolar18.

Overall, this was a beautiful, curious experience worth getting up earlier for. As a British Vietnamese young adult, I saw so much of my own experiences reflected in both the Korean and British portions of the play, in a strange way, and I think many others will also be able to relate to it, too. In the future, I’d love to see more collaborations between Birmingham theatre and theatre abroad, as well as more bilingual pieces.

Until next time,

X

Lipstick & Chatter: Can We Stop With the Late Night Fireworks Now?

Everyone, can you believe its November? The German Market is just around the corner and so is the end of the year. I feel like it’s flying by quicker than I would like.

Shopping

These days, I get to come home to a great cinnamon scent in my room. I’ve been revisiting TK Maxx a lot waiting for a classically autumn scent like cinnamon or pumpkin in a reed diffuser. I own a few candles but I’m not allowed to use them upstairs for safety reasons, so the best near alternative for my room is a reed diffuser.

Now that I have my hands on a cinnamon scent, though, I think I would have preferred vanilla pumpkin or something without cinnamon as the scent is a bit strong. I’ve tucked away the reed diffuser in a corner where the scent will be less strong so hopefully, it won’t be so bad.

On the other hand, some of you may know that I love the Paper Place A4 Spiralbound notebooks from The Works. I’ve noticed that they’ve made their notebooks less pages recently although ultimately the same. I don’t know whether to be sad or happy seeing as it took me ages to get through them but now they’re less value for the same price!

University

I feel like I’m juggling so many things recently. Beyond university coursework, I’m also part of two societies, a language exchange group, a Japanese class and an extra module. I also have a gym membership and have been aiming for two days a week. I’d previously felt drained at most times during the week and at one point I started missing lectures and workshops in order to recover from my really long Tuesdays.

(This post goes out on a Tuesday, so rest assured I am probably dying at Uni as you read this.)

Until a few weeks ago, I also had two jobs. I’ve since quit the second job in order to have more time to fit all of these extra-curricular things with time to relax. The Tuesdays haven’t changed, essentially, so they’re still too long and tiring for the moment but I’m glad to have my Fridays and Sundays back – a few days where I can take time off and get ready for the next week. I feel as if I can still cramming in too much though and I’m still struggling to make it to the gym. I am hoping to change that this week.

NaNoWriMo

All this said, you’ll understand now why I’m finding it so hard to blog. You’ll be even more baffled to hear that I’m also adding NaNoWriMo to that list this year. For those of you unfamiliar, National Novel Writing Month is a writing challenge to get 50k words done throughout the month. I’ve only succeeded once in 2015 and not reached 10k in subsequent years since. So, of course, I’ve set a small goal for myself of at least reaching 10k. Right now, I’m at 1k.

On top of that, I haven’t concretely planned my novel at all, whereas I have attempted plans for most of my previous projects. This is because, in my mind, I am still in the mindset of getting to know the characters and setting and when I try to write with a plot I quickly lose the plot (pun sort of intentional).

So I am actually approaching the novel more like a plan, and hopefully all those words will help me become more familiar with my characters. Case in point is that I started this month with only three characters and simply by writing about their setting I’ve now got at least eight characters.

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Lipstick Spotlight

Recently, the lipstick I have been wearing the most is my Smashbox Be Legendary in Legendary. I know I did review this lipstick a little negatively saying that it was not fully opaque and a bit patchy at times, but it means I’ve fully embraced a messy lip look.

I want something bold this autumn and winter as well as not too drying, so I have been wearing this two ways: popping this in the centre of my lips on top of Skinfood’s tinted avocado lip serum, or using the lipstick first in the centre and using a lip brush to line my lips in lip balm and soften the lip lines. I don’t have defined lips so softening lipstick lines really improves the look in my opinion. The result is this super plushy and glossy-ish look that I like wearing on a daily basis.

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The lasting power of the lipstick is not great so depending on food type it may have to be retouched. However, with just a drink or so, it will last well and only lose some vividity, fading to a more blotted look.

I did wear a liquid lipstick or two recently but I couldn’t handle just how drying they felt so I think I am back to bullets, pigmented balmy products and glosses for life. I picked my recent gel polish to match – it’s Halo Gel Polish in Apple Red, which is slightly orangey yet not too bright. Ask your local nail salon if they offer it, and if not they’re sure to know a trade stockist that does.

And Finally…

On a random note, I find myself picking more and more vegetarian options recently when I am going out for food. I recently picked up a jar of pumpkin seed butter to try out – it’s the one option I saw that was not nut-based (my sister is allergic) so it was an impulse buy! I just look at what interests me and many times it happens to be vegetarian. I told myself in this regard that I would never force myself to eat vegan or vegetarian, and focus on what I like, and it’s interesting to see what I naturally gravitate to and what I could easily give up.

Until Next Time,

X

Lipsticks in Rotation|April-July 2018

Hi everyone!

As you might be able to tell, this post was originally scheduled for the end of April, which quickly flew by as I had lots of university things to do. On top of that, I was very bored with my lipstick choices afterwards so this is essentially a catch-up in lipsticks, too. However, I’ve now gone through half the year without buying a single new lipstick, so yay!

Starting a Year-Long Lipstick No-Buy

Lipsticks in Rotation – January 2018

Lipsticks in Rotation – February 2018

Lipsticks in Rotation – March 2018


April

New Item: NYX Butter Gloss Intense in Chocolate Crepe

I’ve been wearing this a heck of a lot recently. Of all the days I wore lipstick this month, I was likely wearing this for over half those days. The shade is my favourite type, a medium nude and it’s refreshing to be able to wear it all day without it drying my lips. It’s thick but not too thick and still delivers a lovely shine whilst lasting surprisingly well.

New Item: NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Cannes

In contrast, this was a bit of a disappointment. It settled into my lip lines and was overall just underwhelming considering how well-loved this range is. I much preferred the Liquid Suedes which definitely felt like a better and improved version. However, I do love this shade – a muted pink which is super nice for spring.

MAC Matte Lipstick in Nouveau Vogue (mini)

Considering that my Bourjois Nude-ist is running out, this is actually a very acceptable stand-in for a cooler pink. It has a bit of mauve to it that makes it wearable on me but still not a nude at all. It’s girly yet totally cool. This is the nutcracker edition mini packaging, I think.

Nars Velvet Satin Lip Pencil in Yu (mini)

I underestimated just how bright this is. It’s also super blue toned and I haven’t worn this kind of shade since perhaps last year. At the moment, I think it looks very odd on my skintone so have only really worn it once this month! It’s a popular and raved about shade that I have seen a lot in the blogosphere but I don’t think it’s for me.

Colourpop Ultra Matte Lip in Scrooge | Review here

I adore this colour. Like Rose Lancome from last month, this is a shade of pink that seems to brighten up my complexion and also my day. Not to mention this formula lasts all day without fail. If you leave these tubes lying around still too much though, the formula tends to separate and look a little less lively, but otherwise, it is still completely useable.

Mamonde Color Balm Intense in #16 Velvet Red | Review here

I do love this shade – that kind of muted red that is really flattering on me. Is it just me or are pencil type lipsticks essentially the same as normal lipsticks? Especially after they are worn down. The packaging on them also generally looks less appealing too for not that many positives over a bullet. Due to the matte formula I’ve still been reaching for my lip brush to tidy the edges after applying this pencil type product.


May/June/July

I knew I wouldn’t be out as much compared to previous months, so I scrapped my planned rotations completely. Instead, I made sure to reach for shades that I really wanted to use up at the moment. They all happen to be products I have featured on this blog before in previous rotations, too. Either way, I didn’t care all that much.

My tube of Lancome’s Rose Nu is pretty much finished unless I use a brush to scoop out the last remaining bits. Burberry’s Rosewood has been my go-to neutral choice for work although it does feel drying halfway into the working day. Clinique’s Cherry Pop has been the obvious choice for any fancier days out. I’ve not varied much in my lipsticks besides these.


So, now that we are nearing August I’ve actually re-sorted my rotations box and not forgotten about it so there will actually be a new post at the end of next month… But what I really want to ask right now is ‘what do you do when you’re bored with your current makeup?’ …That hopefully doesn’t include buying more! Especially in the summer when I’m barely wearing any and prefer a ‘lighter’ face, so to speak.

Until next time,

X

Another Catch Up

Hi everyone!

It’s been a good month and a half since my last post. I made sure to take some time off after exams to chill then ended up diving into part-time work in a slightly drastic change to my routine that took some time to adjust to. I’ve managed to get a little bit of balance back, so here is a rambling post about some of the things I was up to recently, with some photos of other things I did.

This lil cat from The Kitty Cafe in Nottingham represents me during the summer. And maybe all the time.

You all know I have a long list of hobbies and interests I like to switch and rotate between a lot. Makeup has fully fallen out of the rotation, it seems. I haven’t touched my box of new items in MONTHS and I wear the same casual lipsticks for work all the time, although to be fair I have rarely gone out to do anything else. So, as a result, I am kind of stuck for beauty content.

I have picked my reading back up again as well, although it seems my pace slows every time I do. I finally finished reading The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, and then I finished Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin, too. I particularly loved the latter, especially the second half. It’s very sweet and emotive, not romantic in the typical sense, and deliciously dark. I will be seeing Sarah Maria Griffin in an event in a few weeks, which I am really excited for now.

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Some terrible doodled versions of covers of the books I read.

Just a few days ago, I finished Blade Runner, or originally ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ by Philip K. Dick – It’s a shorter read compared to my last two but I am enjoying it a lot so far. I’m only two chapters in, and the worldbuilding is done really… concisely, with lots of ‘show, don’t tell’. As much as I can deal with flowery prose, I really like this about this book so far. Gotta take notes.

Anyhow, my next pick will be Sabriel by Garth Nix. I have a goal to make it through as much of my current TBR this summer as possible!

This is Zaap Thai Street Food, also in Nottingham. I thought I had stepped out onto a street on the other side of the world! The details were amazing and reminded me of a night in Ho Chi Minh City, too.

I recently acquired a Nintendo Switch, so most of my days off have consisted of wandering Hyrule semi-aimlessly. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is so OPEN and I love it – almost everything can be interacted with. At some point, I am going to have to learn and actually remember some combat controls though because simply charging into the nearest enemy flailing a Boko Bat and panicking won’t work all the time…

My favourite part of the game beyond exploring is probably gathering ingredients and cooking food, as boring as that sounds. Autosaves in this game make me feel invincible even though I’ve gotten ‘Game Over’ at least nine times. I do like to dive into new areas but you know when it’s misty and I paraglide in only to have the mist reveal a bunch of Lizalfos that kill me in one hit? Sigh, yeah that kind of sucks.

The Warehouse Cafe is a nice Veggie Only place to check out. I wasn’t into this dish (the filo parcel) personally but I’d love to go back and check out other items on their menu!

I also bought Stardew Valley, which I really like because whilst I loved Harvest Moon DS, it was… tedious, for lack of a better word. Stardew Valley feels very similar… maybe better, though! I tend to like these no-pressure games a lot more. I also bought Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles, for another open-world like BOTW, but also no-pressure kind of thing. It’s okay so far. Can’t climb things though. Can’t even enter buildings or swim, so it’s not as open, and sometimes the movement and camera controls make me dizzy, but it’s a welcome change from Guardians and Lizalfos.

I feel stuck with my drawing. I’m finding it really hard to be happy with stuff I draw at the moment making it really hard to continue. I keep thinking every line and resulting picture needs to be perfect (I finally understand the idea of ‘meaningful lines’ my art teacher kept going on about in school but it’s hard!) and it’s so frustrating that I can’t put my ideas on paper/computer yet. I think I will start experimenting with brush settings and some other digital techniques beyond just sketching. I have actually gone back to dabbling in writing too, but like… actually writing stuff instead of just planning forever and never getting words down on the page.

Anyway, I am scheduling some long-overdue beauty posts from before the hiatus, and I hope to still be chatting to myself here afterwards. If I’m not grinding for money or still dying in games.

Until next time,

X

Review: Skinfood Avocado & Honey Lip Serum

Hi everyone!

Now that I have established a lip care routine of sorts, I am looking into exploring other options for the steps I have. One of these steps involves using a thin ‘lip serum’ type product in the morning. It has to be really quick and easy to use and play well with my lipsticks and lip liners without compromising them. So for this, tubs are a no and sticks are okay… But I really love tubes as there is no time taken to ‘melt’ any product onto the lips – lanolin products being a sort of exception.

 

By the way, lip balms were not part of my no-buy. Tinted ones… well, I didn’t realise this one was tinted… I certainly don’t wear it in lieu of a lipstick, so I wouldn’t count this particular one… I don’t normally buy/wear tinted ones at all…

 

The product I used for this step prior was Dr Organic’s Hemp Lip Serum. It’s an oily gel sort of texture, in a tube, and in a thin layer, works really well for what I need it for without being too runny. But lip ‘serums’ are a rare product category and I wanted to see what other options I had. Lip essences are interesting too and I think the two terms might be used interchangeably and of course, lip oils are not to be ignored although true oil consistencies are not what I’m looking for.

I bought this product for £3.97 for 10 ml from RoseRoseShop on ebay, a known reputable seller of Korean cosmetics and skincare. As usual, it took about two weeks to get to me here in the UK.

This appealed to me as a morning lip balm because it has a little sun protection at SPF8 and has a tube packaging. to be honest, as I pat off the lip balm later the SPF is not a deal breaker as it won’t stay on. The avocado and honey extracts are supposed to help keep the lips moist. It smells of a typical lip balm in a stick – I think it’s lypsyl that comes to mind or the classic Nivea lip balm scent. That means it also doesn’t taste very nice.

I was really surprised to see the product come out so dark – a very deep berry colour! However, once I spread it on the lips this colour all but dissipates into a not-even-noticeable tint. It doesn’t appear too glossy or too matte – just a creamy shine.

When I am only wearing this balm during the day at home, the product lasts two or three hours on the lips before I have to reapply it again. This is with drinking water and a bit of snacking in between. It won’t last a meal, but as the tint is so light you’re not going to notice, visually, that it’s gone. At the same time, the tint makes my lips look healthier and less washed out. If you have more pigmented lips, though you won’t notice a difference.

It plays well under lip products. I usually press my lips against the back of my hand to remove excess and leave a thin layer. It doesn’t cause my lipstick to go on patchy and I can use my lip products as usual.

I wasn’t sure about this lip serum at first. I’m not sure I would still call it the kind of serum I was expecting. It’s definitely more just a thin balm. However, it’s really grown on me and I do enjoy using it now, especially the healthy flush it gives to my lips even if I do pat it off later on. I don’t think I will repurchase this again, though.

Until next time,

X

Review: Revolution Conceal & Define Liquid Concealer

Hi everyone!

Like every other makeup enthusiast I was super excited to hear about Revolution’s new concealer and its shade range. It was something I insisted on buying in person but its popularity proved so immense I couldn’t even find teasers in store, let alone the actual product! After its launch, it took almost two whole months for me to get my hands on the concealer to try!

Revolution Conceal & Define costs only £5 and is available at Superdrug’s stores and website, as well as the Tambeauty site.

Not surprisingly, the packaging is a very trendy rose-gold, and the tube a little bulky compared to my other products. It’s pretty and looks lovely in photos, though.

The doe-foot applicator is nice and really pleasant to use, although sometimes I find it picks up a little too much product. This is a minor gripe, though, and I find the amount plenty for the areas I use base products on. The product doesn’t set too quickly either so it’s not a problem that I’ve got way too much concealer on one side of my face.

I don’t use foundation all over my face normally, and in hindsight, I actually use foundation and concealer the same way – mostly around the centre parts of my face where redness most often shows. I am also not fussed about concealing my dark circles – I am a student after all, and it’s a perfectly normal thing in the exam season! With this in mind, my base products have to match well to the outer parts of my face.

The swatch below shows the concealer next to my two favourite current matches in concealer and foundation- the Maybelline Eye Eraser in Light and the Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation in 1W2 Sand. Both of these current products I want to avoid repurchasing if I can find cruelty-free alternatives, which is unfortunate as they match really well and I have found that I do have a difficult skintone to match – a neutral – yellowish tone that many products fail to match by turning too orange. Oxidisation also really annoys me so I’d much rather my base products didn’t do that, too.

 

I always get define and conceal mixed up and corrected it three times on this blog post alone…

 

I liked the match for C6 against my skin. Surprisingly, Superdrug labels C6 for ‘medium skin tones with peach undertone’ although I have never labelled my skin tone as such and C6 doesn’t obviously seem like that kind of shade either. It’s also surprisingly light and less yellow compared to Maybelline Eye Eraser in Light and Double Wear in 1W2 Sand. It blends out well with a natural, very slight brightening effect due to the difference in shade whereas 1W2 is perhaps the darkest I could go without it looking horrible.

In terms of lasting power, it fares pretty well. I have oily skin and this will inevitably break down on the nose despite a generous dusting of powder. However, it looks far better after a few hours than the Eye Eraser does especially on the upper lip and beneath the chin where the product can also break up at times.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with it and would probably repurchase this again over my other options. Let me know if you’ve tried this and what you thought of it!

Until next time,

X

 

Review: Etude House Dr Mascara Fixer for Perfect Lash

Hi everyone!
For my birthday a few months back, I treated myself to some stuff from Jolse. Initially, the total was about £50 but I common-sensed it down to about £30. The power of rational thinking is my best weapon against impulse buying. The only thing it doesn’t work on is food… Anyway, I picked up another loose powder, repurchased my favourite Bbia gel liner in new shades and also this eyelash fixer.
I had heard some things about this eyelash primer/top coat product but it was Hoi Yin Li who finally convinced me to pop it onto my shopping list. She was totally right – this is am amazing product that really ups your lash game.
This product costs about $6.46 (£4.89) from the online store, Jolse. It takes two weeks for their orders to reach me in the UK from Korea, and it’s free shipping for all orders.
On the packaging, it states that Dr Mascara Fixer can be used underneath mascaras as a lash primer or over the lashes as a ‘top coat’. The fixer itself has a slightly milky silicone texture, which goes on smoothly and dries to hold the curl. It does stick a few lashes together sometimes so you may have to quickly brush out the lashes before the fixer sets for a fluffy look.
The greatest thing about it is that it really improved the performance of sub-par mascaras, particularly with improving curl-holding. I have an issue with volumising mascaras as my lashes cannot hold the curl with them, but this problem is pretty much eliminated with the addition of the Dr Mascara Fixer, for all the mascaras I have tried with it. I feel like it doesn’t make the mascara pop more in intensity, but it will improve longevity and reduce smudging a bit, used as a primer. After my ‘meh’ review of the Urban Decay Troublemaker mascara, I am now using it up but only with this primer!
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I’ve found that it can pick up a little too much product at times, so I try to scrape off a lot or just to work quickly. It also dries quite stiffly which makes my lashes feel quite different. It does work on the lower lashes as well. However, I didn’t like to use it on its own or as a top coat layer as it does not dry completely clear, with a bit of milky whiteness that tones down my lash colour or the black pigment of my mascara.
When I used this as a top coat and attempted another coat of mascara on top, it mostly caused my lashes to stick together to form the clumpy, spidery effect. So it really only works best with one layer underneath your preferred mascara.
I really love this and I’m sure I’ll buy backups for the future, which won’t be expensive either. Etude House has some real gems in their collection – last year I gifted a bunch of their Proof 10 eye primer out to my friends and it looks like this year I’ll be doing the same with this!
Have you tried any lash primers before?

Until next time,

X