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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester theatre reviews

You’re Not Alone by Kim Noble

You’re Not Alone by Kim Noble

at Contact Theatre, Manchester

Reviewed by Stephen Bowler March 2016

 

Kim Noble begins his one-man gig pacing twitchily, e-cig in one hand, drink in the other, sizing-up the punters as we the audience file into the theatre. No wonder he looks on-edge: in the hour that follows he dredges the depths of discomfort as he bulldozes the boundaries of bad taste.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Madness of George III by Alan BennettMadness of George III

Performed at Garrick Theatre, Altrincham

Reviewed by Simon Belt and Yvonne Cawley April 2016

 

This award winning play by Alan Bennett is billed as a ‘mix of terror, comedy and tragedy’ is a story based on King George III’s well documented bout of madness and the ensuing political power struggle. We see Fox ‘courting’ the scheming Prince of Wales, encouraging him to incarcerate the King, supposedly for his own good health but really so they both benefit - as taking on the role of ‘Prince Regent’ would therefore offer greater political power and access to the treasury coffers. If it is proved that the King is losing his mind, then he will lose his power too.

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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Sick Festival On the couch at Contact Theatre, Manchester

Reviewed by Stephen Bowler March 2016

 

On the couch was a one day event comprising three round-table discussions and debates under the general umbrella of ‘Sick Lab: A collaborative exploration of identity and trauma’. A variety of speakers, from the arts, academia and medicine, explored themes including ‘the other’, loneliness, the self, neighbourliness and gender, as well as identity and trauma.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Negative Space by Reckless Sleepers

Negative Space by Reckless Sleepers

at Contact Theatre, Manchester

Reviewed by Stephen Bowler March 2016

 

The star of this performance is a large white boxy space, with plasterboard walls on three sides and a floor containing three trap-doors and two wooden chairs. Four men and two women come into and exit this space. They have no names and no roles. No words are spoken and there is no music.

 

Over the course of an hour the six performers come and go in no particular order.

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Manchester theatre reviews

David Neilson (Hamm) and Chris Gascoyne (Clov) in Endgame

Endgame at Home

by Samuel Beckett, co-presented by Citizens Theatre

Reviewed by Stephen Bowler February 2016

 

Imagine, if you will, an existential launderette, where, one evening, you take your embodied self for a service wash. You check in your soul, which goes into a big boxy machine on a programme marked all-Western-thought-and-then-some, along with some Cartesian powder and a little Comedic conditioner. During the 90-odd minute wash your psychic goods go round and round, scratching a bit on the window, yielding flashes of apparel in no particular order. The end of the cycle looks a lot like the beginning.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Gospel according to Jesus, Queen of Heaven

The Gospel according to Jesus, Queen of Heaven

Written and performed by Jo Clifford

Reviewed by Stephen Bowler February 2016

 

The Gospel according to Jesus, Queen of Heaven is a one hour ‘sermon’ written and performed by Jo Clifford, who invites us to embrace a ‘queer Jesus’. More agitprop performance art than theatrical event.

 

The audience is addressed and directly challenged by Clifford who is constantly on the move, sometimes in-amongst those who have responded to the offer to sit closer, in a more intimate setting, but more often round the back of us, disallowing any comfortable sense of distance between audience and performer.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Pitmen Painters

The Pitmen Painters at Oldham Coliseum

Reviewed by John Waterhouse February 2016

 

This play might at first glance appear to be another take on how to escape depressing times in Northern collieries, a la ‘Brassed Off’, but it’s actually a funny show that works on a number of levels. There have been many satires in past decades about what or who defines art and what in essence is an artist. A personal favourite is the 1961 Tony Hancock film ‘The Rebel’ where an office bean-counter makes a bid to escape his existence of a wage-slave by becoming ‘an artist’ in Paris.

 

The Pitmen Painters starts on a more positive premise; a group of colliery workers simply want to broaden their horizons by trying to appreciate art and the teacher they hire quickly decides that the best way they can achieve this is to become artists, or least to try painting, themselves.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Life Stories with Chekhov

Life Stories at Salford Arts Theatre

Reviewed by Stephen Bowler February 2016

Produced by Radius Opera and Theatre

 

All art is quite useless. That’s why we need it. Because we aren’t tools, but men and women with interests beyond utilitarian calculus. Soul is what matters; soul and sympathy and human understanding.

 

If such is your view, Life Stories is the evening for you. A pithy, prescient two-parter, Life Stories bounces one tale off another and leaves us asking for more.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Mother Goose

Mother Goose

at Oldham Coliseum Theatre

Reviewed by John Waterhouse November 2015

 

Having decided which of the stalwart panto themes they wanted to produce, Oldham Coliseum had the task of ensuring that audiences would be guaranteed a fine time. The logical step was to engage Fine Time Fontayne to both co-write and star in ‘Mother Goose’. With twenty previous pantomimes already penned, Fine Time clearly knows a thing or two about turning a wafer-thin plot, with a bevy of even thinner characters, into two hours of non-stop, entertaining slick entertainment.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Humpty's Bones

Humpty’s Bones’ by Sean Mason

(based on the novella by Simon Clark)

at The Seven Oaks Pub, Manchester

Reviewed by John Waterhouse October 2015

‘Humpty’s Bones’ started as a novella by Yorkshire writer Simon Clark and has been developed for the stage by Sean Mason, with the approving blessing of the author, having been first performed two years ago.

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