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Culture vulture

Lucy Agnew likes her fiction subtle, but her heart is in panto

Reading undercurrents

I love Alice Hoffman's books. She writes about family life in sleepy American towns where there's a bit of an undercurrent. Practical Magic is probably her best. I started her latest, Blackbird House, which is made up of intertwining stories about a house over 100 years, but I'm a little disappointed with it: not as gripped as I thought I would be. So I've also started reading Eve Green by Susan Fletcher, which is about an eight-year-old girl sent away to Wales, a kind of Carrie's War for adults.

It's got a secret, and I like that kind of story: where things are bubbling away, it's not all explicit, and there's a bit of mystery.

Favourite film

Ladies in Lavender was great fun, and I liked Kinsey, because there was no real answer at the end. But the film I love is I am Sam with Sean Penn (pictured), about a man with a young mental age who is bringing up his daughter alone. It's all right when she's small, but as she grows up she's bright and beautiful and it's about whether he can go on looking after her when she needs more. The background music is by the Beatles and it's very touching.

Face painting

We live out in the sticks, so I tend to go to art galleries on holiday. I love Mondrian: I like the bright colours, I don't read too much into them.

I also like Peter Blake, David Hockney and Edward Hopper. I look at the faces - they're often people pictures - and try to imagine what's going on in their lives: who they were, whose family they were part of. You can build up a story around them.

Treat in store

When we moved to Devon I joined a drama evening class, and from there got involved in the Exeter Little Theatre Company. I did a couple of small plays and then panto for two years: I was Cinderella one year and Snow White the next. I love panto, with all the ad-libbing and the camaraderie backstage. It's great: you step on to that stage and it's so not real. I don't do it now that I have a child, but we'll go to Pinocchio at the Barnfield Theatre in Exeter at Christmas, because I know the person who's written it and lots of the people in it.

Lucy Agnew, 34, is a part-time Year 1 teacher at Gatehouse primary school in Dawlish, Devon. Details of the Barnfield Theatre's winter programme at Interview by Karen Gold

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