No, Twitter does not need an edit button – and here’s why | Liam O’Dell

Adding the ability to edit tweets would not only be impractical, but would open the floodgates to further abuse of the platform.

“Sexy edit button” were the three words Twitter used today to say that it is terrified of the edit button.

While slightly unconventional, the tweet – which was in response to a post from voiceover artist and writer Summer Ray – finally provided some acknowledgement from the platform that they are aware of the repeated calls for the function. Twitter think it’s a bad idea – and they’re right.

Supporters of the introduction of the new button may well cite Facebook’s ‘edit history’ feature as an example of this setting being successful, but it is far from it. Clicking ‘view edit history’ is the only way in which we can find out if a post has been altered, and even then, we’re unlikely to click it and interrupt our automatic and robotic scrolling of our News Feed.

Transfer this over to Twitter, where a chronological algorithm makes things feel a lot more instantaneous, and the chances of us noticing that a tweet has been edited are even smaller. Even if a sign was added to suggest that it has, it would have to fight for space in a rectangle which is already populated by countless icons and pieces of information. People just wouldn’t be bothered.

The main argument for editing tweets is on the issue of spelling mistakes, where having the ability to edit out a rogue comma or a misspelling could prove useful. Indeed, while we have all fallen victim to the occasional grammatical error, how would such an edit function be enforced?

Even when one considers the detailed coding required, what would happen to a tweet when it’s edited? If it remains in situ, in its original place in the timeline, then what’s the point? The edit remains unacknowledged unless the scroller happened to retweet it onto their account. On the other hand, boosting edited tweets to the top of the timeline would be an algorithmic nightmare.

So the alternative is to leave it buried, drowned out by all the other tweets which populate our busy timelines. This is where it becomes dangerous.

Those who make the point about the feature potentially being exploited refer to how we could retweet a tweet with a statement we agree with, only to find it’s been changed to something abhorrent later. Even when we put a disclaimer in our bios saying that sharing other tweets do not imply endorsement, the association and connection is still there.

So some have suggested a character limit to prevent misuse. After all, character limits and the need to be succinct was at the heart of Twitter until it doubled its trademark 140-character count. Yet, where would such a limit end? One or two characters would be enough for a punctuation error, but may not be enough for autocorrect’s many failures. On the other hand, increasing it to account for bigger mistakes makes it easier for someone to type ‘arse’ or something far more hateful and vitriolic.

When you consider what this ‘perfect limit’ is, and how one even begins to design and implement an edit button, you start to realise that it’s probably easier to just delete and try again.

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Scrap the ‘Festival of Brexit Britain’, the UK has had enough of political festivals | Liam O’Dell

Theresa May’s plans for a festival to celebrate the best of post-Brexit Britain in 2022 comes at a time when the public want big ideas, not political conferences.

It’s an idea which draws up images of exaggerated patriotism. The Prime Minister’s ‘Festival for Brexit Britain’ aims to “celebrate our nation’s diversity and talent and mark this moment of national renewal with a once-in-a-generation celebration”, taking inspiration from the 1851 Great Exhibition and the 1951 post-war carnivals.

Not only is the patriotism archaic, but so is talk of yet another political festival. The British public are proactive, and want something different.

We’ve already seen failed political events in the form of Labour Live or ‘JezFest’. While over 13,000 people attended the festival, it still had to cut ticket prices and run promotional offers to attract an audience. With the exception of party conferences, events run under the banner of a political party fail to engage the public.

Instead, ideas must be allowed to grow in a public space without political framing. As soon as ideas are shoehorned into a political allegiance, then we run the risk of falling into the echo chambers which our society is desperately trying to move away from. Thoughts should be free and presented in an environment where views can be challenged.

Tory MP George Freeman learnt this when it came to his Big Tents Ideas Festival, which had its second year earlier this month. Initially dubbed ‘the Tory Glastonbury’, this year’s event seemed to be more cross-party than Conservative.

“I have made it non-party political so that MPs, peers and others from the centre left can also get involved,” the Mid Norfolk MP told The Guardian. The end result was nearly 2,000 people heading to the event near Cambridge to discuss topics such as artificial intelligence, education and social justice.

If Conservative festivals are to be viewed as desperate attempts at replicating the success of Glastonbury Festival, then it’s worth looking at what makes the biggest UK festival so popular in terms of politics. The answer? It’s left-wing tone is never front-and-centre – ideas and music are.

Alongside the expected £120m price tag, its planned launch in 2022 and all this talk of a “celebration”, the PM also says the ‘Festival for Brexit Britain’ is targeted at a “new generation”.

If it is indeed another push to recruit more young people to the Conservative Party – whether that attempt be outright or more subliminal – then it won’t work. While it does appear to shine a light on British industries, it would still be unable to shake off its ties to the Tories. An opportunity for young people to have their say on post-Brexit life would be far more beneficial and engaging than a glamourised showcase.

The British public are more involved and engaged in politics than ever, and they have ideas for change. If political festivals want to provide an opportunity to discuss ideas, then opinions must be free from political allegiance, challenged and unrestrained.

‘Heathers: The Musical’ review – Carrie Hope Fletcher storms the stage in this wild play full of big fun

Wacky, edgy and off-the-scale, actress and YouTuber Carrie Hope Fletcher leads a stellar cast in a production bursting with energy and enthusiasm – ★★★★★

A zany tale about the adventures at Westerberg High has attracted a whole new cult following 30 years after the movie was first released. As costumed audience members shout and cheer across multiple musical numbers, Fletcher is right to say that the show feels more like a rock concert than a musical.

Carrie Hope Fletcher (pictured) is sensational in this wacky musical based on the popular 80s film. Photo: Pamela Raith.

With bold, vibrant fanfare, songs such as Beautiful and Dead Girl Walking radiate confidence and passion as Fletcher demonstrates her powerful vocal ability as lead girl, Veronica Sawyer.

Swap these for the emotional Seventeen and we not only see a seamless switch to the more poignant side to the musical, but also the musician’s natural chemistry with Jamie Muscato’s sharp and menacing JD.

Such a chemistry extends out to the wider cast as the Heathers (Jodie Steele, Sophie Isaacs and T’Shan Willimans as Chandler, McNamara and Duke respectively) bounce off each other for brilliant comedic effect. Double-act Chris Chung and Dominic Anderson deliver hilarious performances as troublemakers Kurt and Ram and Andy Fickman’s imaginative direction quite literally shines in the magical Shine A Light.

One other notable performance is that of Jenny O’Leary, who plays the charming and loveable Martha Dunnstock. Verbally abused and bullied for most of the story, Martha’s number Kindergarten Boyfriend is perfectly executed in a way which is equally moving and heart-wrenching in nature.

With outstanding deliveries from the whole cast, it’s a production which shows off the collective’s familial chemistry, whilst also allowing each actor’s individual talents to shine.

Heathers: The Musical is a musical thrill ride which packs a punch. So much so that when the curtain falls, you’ll want to do it all over again.

Heathers: The Musical is now playing at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until 24 November.

‘4.48 Psychosis’ review – Sarah Kane’s play gets a powerful retelling in this new bilingual production

Combining spoken English with British Sign Language (BSL), Deafinitely Theatre add a new, expressive dimension to Kane’s emotive writing in this bold exploration of mental health – ★★★★☆.

There’s an important underlying message in this version of Sarah Kane’s final play. Deaf health charity SignHealth says deaf people are twice as likely to experience mental health issues than those who are hearing, and that they struggle to access support due to communication barriers “which only make their symptoms worse”.

Photo: Becky Bailey.

As the cast navigate the small set, sealed off to the audience with three see-through panes, these barriers become physical and all the more visible. Actors Brian Duffy and Adam Bassett deliver strong performances as the two leads struggle to communicate their feelings to others.

Communication and language are, of course, so closely tied to mental health and support. In 4.48 Psychosis, we see written text projected onto the stage, floating across the screen and complimenting creative choreography and mesmerising mimed sign language. Spoken English merges with BSL to give Kane’s writing a new, expressive impact.

At times, the subtitles disappear and we are left with just sign language on the stage. For those who are not fluent in BSL, there’ll likely be times where it’s hard to figure out what’s being conveyed. Yet, when one considers the point about communication barriers, this perhaps alludes to a wider issue.

With impressive direction from Paula Garfield and strong performances from all four of the cast, Deafinitely Theatre’s latest production offers a new, raw take on an incredibly important subject.

4.48 Psychosis is now playing at the New Diorama Theatre until 13 October.

There’s a worrying domino effect impacting deaf young people’s education – it must be stopped | Liam O’Dell

As MPs debate deaf children’s services in Parliament later today, it’s time to introduce more equality into our education system and address this problem at its core.

A series of continuous barriers in education are preventing deaf young people from achieving their full potential. Without the right support, these issues can only worsen as the individual progresses through the system.

The National Deaf Children’s Society has done some incredible work in establishing the issues present throughout a deaf young person’s journey through the education system. Their research has revealed that councils in England are planning £4 million worth of cuts to services for disabled children and young people; that just nine per cent of deaf young people attended a Russell Group university in the 2015/16 academic year (compared to 17% of all students) and now, that over half of deaf students in England in 2017 failed to achieve more than one A-Level before reading 19 years of age. The exact figure, 58.8%, is the highest rate since 2012, The Independent reports.

All of this points to a wider domino effect at play in our education system which sets deaf young people down a path where they are unable to achieve the results of which they are capable. The cuts to deaf services mean that deaf pupils are not as supported by Teachers of the Deaf and other professionals as they should be.

As such, these individuals fail to receive full access to an education in the classroom, which could explain why we’re currently seeing a rise in the number of deaf young people failing to achieve more than one A-Level. This then impacts their chances of entering Russell Group universities. It shouldn’t be allowed to snowball like this.

While all this unfolds, the Government is making slow progress on introducing a GCSE in British Sign Language (BSL) – a qualification which would not only help to break down communication barriers between deaf pupils, their peers and their tutors, but also greatly improve their access to education.

Education is as much about support networks as it is learning. These cuts should not only be stopped, but more work must be done to establish connections between parents, students and teachers.

Having on individual who can understand a child’s needs in an educational environment can help a lot with navigating through education. At present, the cuts to deaf services are so significant that while I received support from a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator, not every deaf child is so lucky.

With so many barriers facing deaf children in education, it can feel isolating and confusing. Transitions between school can only exacerbate the obstacles if strong communication networks are established. We must not only challenge the damaging cuts proposed, but work to improve connections so deaf children are supported as much as possible.

‘Exit the King’ review – Rhys Ifans delivers a respectable performance in this absurdist comedy

A 400-year-old king (Rhys Ifans) is refusing to die. It sounds promising and above all, absolutely ridiculous, but with hit-and-miss humour, you do start to wish that he’d get on with it – ★★★☆☆

A madcap play about existentialism has the potential to be both hilariously daft and incredibly thought-provoking. At its smartest, it can raise intelligent points about life and dying. At its most bonkers, it can have Harry Potter star Rhys Ifans rolling and floundering around the stage as a crazed monarch.

Photo: Simon Annand.

In a production which is completely off the rails, it’s Ifans’ performance as the King which really stands out. Handed some impressive monologues in his role, the actor recites them with a Shakespearean air – something which is perhaps one of the play’s many jokes which isn’t quite apparent on the first try.

Other notable performances include Indira Varma’s role as the impatient Queen Marguerite, who shines in the final scenes, and Doctor Who‘s Adrian Scarborough offers most of the intriguing remarks from this production as The Doctor (no, not that one).

Outside of these three characters, the rest of the cast’s talents are wasted. Derek Griffith’s role as an over-enthusiastic royal guard revolves around the same repeated joke, while Amy Morgan plays a devoted lover that doesn’t have much to offer in terms of dialogue. Debra Gillett’s part as a nurse, although brilliantly acted, fails to pack either an intelligent or comedic punch.

Granted, absurdist comedy is very much an acquired taste, but in a weird way, there must be a method to the madness. Interesting ideas about death are raised in one of Ifans’ many poetic monologues, but the final comment towards the end of the play is lost in Eugène Ionesco’s flowery language. The great big moral of the story – the opportunity to make the underlying point far more apparent to the audience – is the final punchline. As one approaches the end of the play, one expects there to be one remark which undermines the sentimentally – yet it never arrives.

Slightly underwhelming in nature and with a bag full of light jokes that don’t quite land, Exit the King is missable, but sees Rhys Ifans deliver an impressive performance.

Exit the King is now playing at the Olivier Theatre until 6 October.

‘The Lehman Trilogy’ review – Sam Mendes directs this fast-moving and poetic tale of Western capitalism

Adam Godley, Ben Miles and Simon Russell Beale deliver phenomenal performances in this three hour-long epic exploring a detailed history of Western capitalism through the lens of one Bavarian family – ★★★★

They say the best things come in threes. In the case of the National Theatre’s sell-out show, The Lehman Trilogy, actors Godley, Miles and Russell Beale navigate Es Devlin’s incredible office space set with marvellous elegance and professionalism. Unique as individual actors and powerful as a group, the trio flow between multiple characters seamlessly in what is an incredible theatrical feat.

Photo: Mark Douet.

Away from the stage, adapter Ben Power, director Sam Mendes, designer Devlin and pianist Candida Caldicot’s collaboration gives this production its final classical polish. Power’s vibrant writing Live piano melodies from Caldicot heighten the  while Mendes’ direction feels suitably methodical on Devlin’s revolving set. It’s fast-moving – both in sense of chronology and choreography.

Such is the pace of the production that it can at times feel a lot to take in – the two intervals allowing the audience time to process each part of the time-travelling tale. This may sound worrying for a play exploring as complex an issue as the progress of Western capitalism, but explored through the lens of The Lehman Brothers, the wider points about economics, marketing and finance become clearer and more anecdotal.

Another grounding aspect of the trilogy, which also provides some wonderful charm and humour, are the little motifs which appear regularly throughout the production. Tightrope walkers, card dealers, shop signs and the announcement that one is about to “take my leave” are wonderful bursts of eccentricity which, together with incredible performances from the cast – breathe life into the financial world in which we find ourselves.

Three hours and three parts later, and there’s three well-deserved bows for a sensational trio of performers. Truly classical in nature, The Lehman Trilogy is a fine piece of immersive, three-dimensional theatre.

While standard tickets for The Lehman Trilogy at the Lyttleton Theatre are now sold out, day tickets can still be bought on the day of the performance and Friday Rush tickets are also available every week at 1pm. 16 to 25 year olds can also purchase tickets through the National Theatre Entry Pass scheme.