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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester theatre reviews

Ladykillers

The Ladykillers at Oldham Coliseum

by Graham Lineham

Reviewed by John Waterhouse June 2016

 

Alongside a fashion to turn hit films into musicals (such as ’Ghost’, ‘Elf’ and ‘The Producers’), there have in recent years been a growing number of classic films that have been turned into plays, with an emphasis on farce; the most notable example being ‘The Thirty Nine Steps’ and more recently, ‘Brief encounter’. When Graham Lineham decided to give this treatment to ‘The Ladykillers’, he was taking on not just a film with a very well-known plot but a movie famous for a stand-out performance by Alec Guinness (at the time of release in 1956, Britain’s leading comedy film actor), backed by a host comedy greats including Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom and Frankie Howerd.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Art of Success

The Art of Success at HOME

Produced by MMU School of Art

Reviewed by Stephen Bowler April 2016

 

William Hogarth (1697–1764), the celebrated engraver and painter best known for A Rake’s Progress (1735), is the subject of The Art of Success. Hogarth’s zest for the lusty, dusty, gin-soaked underbelly of London life was matched only by his ability to capture its moral content on canvas. This quest is the key to Nick Dear’s capacious, ambitious play, first performed in 1986 and now revived for a short run at HOME.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour. Photo credit Manuel Harlan

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, Liverpool Playhouse

Co-produced by National Theatre of Scotland and Live Theatre

Reviewed by Jane Turner May 2016

 

Anyone in any doubt about the frailty of the female should spend some time with this smoking, swearing, drunken, noisy and energetic teenage girl choir - on a mischief packed coach trip from their school “Our Lady of Perpetual Succour” (nicknamed the Virgin Megastore) in a small Scottish coastal town to the big city of Edinburgh. Rejoice in their youthful efforts to have as much excitement as possible, which in keeping with teenagers temporarily freed from adult control, mostly involves gossiping, sex – “doing it” - and exaggerating its place in their lives.

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Manchester theatre reviews

King Lear at Opera House

King Lear at Opera House

Reviewed by Stephen Bowler May 2016

 

A point of view is a ten minute slot on Sunday mornings on BBC Radio 4. A sort of secular homily, it is usually fresh and intelligent. This week, though, it was Will Self, who put the case for a transfer of wealth from baby-boomer parents to over-indebted off-spring. ‘Let's give it all away... the massive advances we've taken on any future commonwealth’, he said. King Lear does this. He gives it all away. It doesn't end well.

 

Quite why is open to debate. But the echo of Lear's folly on the radio last Sunday morning reminded me of the timeless universality of the meme that is Shakespeare. Whether we're conscious of it or not, the modern age is unthinkable without him. And if this is so in the main, it is even more to the fore in King Lear, where the darkness within all of us is illumined on the stage, the better for us to intuit the bounds of our own natures.

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Manchester theatre reviews

32 rue Vandenbranden. Photo credit Herman Sorgeloos

32 rue Vandenbranden at Home

by Peeping Tom Productions

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall May 2016

 

Peeping Tom Productions have done it again. Despite the rather off-putting and foreign title to this piece of contemporary dance, physical theatre, and goodness knows what else thrown into the mix, they have proved once again that they really are the masters of Complicité. This very European style of theatre, still somehow strange and not fully understood or accepted in the UK yet, is being championed once again by HOME and its Artistic Director, Walter Meierjohann. Full credit to them for bringing the best of modern and forward-looking European theatre to our shores.

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Manchester music reviews

Bridgewater Hall

Dvorák Saint Ludmila

The Halle Orchestra and Choir at The Bridgewater Hall

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall May 2016

 

Saint Ludmila is an oratorio by Antonin Dvorak and was the final concert in The Halle's festival of this great Czech composer's works, 'Nature, Life and Love'. It is also something of an enigma. Written especially for The Leeds Festival in 1886, it seems that it was written using the Czech language, as indeed the musical phrasing suggests this, the nuances and stress patterns of Czech being so vastly different from English, and with Dvorak, his stay in America still a few years in the future, he would have been far more at ease with setting his oratorio to the original words of the popular Czech poet and librettist Jaroslav Vrchlicky.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Pygmalion

Pygmalion at Oldham Coliseum

by George Bernard Shaw

Reviewed by John Waterhouse and Charles Britten May 2016

 

There is a crafty genius about the works of George Bernard Shaw, but it takes acting of a high order to truly bring out the full flavour of the feast. The good news coming from Oldham Coliseum last Friday night (May 13th) was that the performance was compelling, relentlessly funny and joyfully irreverent.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Twelfth Night at HOME

Twelfth Night at Home

Reviewed by Stephen Bowler May 2016

 

‘If music be the food of love, play on.’ Is there a better-known opening than this? Surely not. We all know the line but want nothing more than to hear it again. How refreshing, then, when expectancy is seized-upon and turned to advantage, as in Filter Theatre's new production, which started as it meant to go on by punctuating, amplifying and enlivening Shakespeare's text - from start to end - with a riot of wildly eclectic musicality.

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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Sean Lock: Keep It LightSean Lock: Keep it Light

at The Lowry Theatre, Salford

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall May 2016

 

Nearing the end of his four month tour, 53 year old comedian Sean Lock (8 Out Of 10 Cats / QI etc), played to a capacity audience last night at Salford's massive 1700-seat Lyric theatre.

 

He has a rather unique style - a style which really works for him - a style that never really takes himself too seriously, which says, 'take-me-or-leave-me-as-I-am-I-really-don't-care'. Acerbic, acidic, slightly arrogant, loud, brash, deeply cynical and sarcastic, he commanded the stage; standing alone on that vast stage with nothing to hide behind, he performed his routines - finding comedy in things no other comedian has ever done, or dared to do - with an almost Wagnerian majesty.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Birthday Party

The Birthday Party at Oldham Coliseum

Produced by London Classic Theatre

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall May 2016

 

If there is one thing that is certain about a Pinter play, then that is uncertainty. Deliberately ambiguous, Pinter always leaves you, the audience, leaving the theatre with more questions than when you started. If you take the information given to you about each character on face value then you are likely to misunderstand and misinterpret everything anyway.

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