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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester theatre reviews

My Baby Girl

My Baby Girl

By Jane The Foole Theatre Company

Reviewed by Paul Thompson December 2014

 

It's always a pleasure to witness the spirit of new writing doffing its cap to the classics. Much of what the creative cubs are trying out on the boards owes a disproportionate debt to cinema – multiple locations, sub-plots; and snappy scenes bouncing through time like a pre-illness Stephen Hawking on a space hopper. All well and good if you have the luxury of an editing suite, but overwhelming for an auditorium burdened by transition overload.

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Manchester book reviews

This Thing of Memory by David Hynes

This Thing of Memory by David Hynes

Published by GWL Publishing

Reviewed by Denis Joe November 2014

 

It was inevitable that there would be a relative abundance of poetry published in this, the centenary of the start of the First World War.

 

“What on earth was this centenary meant to evoke? Anything? Should it mean anything to us?'


“Well, not if we keep thinking the Great War is too exalted to analyse or too entrenched in pathos and tragedy to begin to question its legacy. So, I began to conduct my own investigations into the Great War, to see what personal relevance this conflict still had over me.


“And, lo and behold, I discovered the Great War was entirely relevant- and not just to me, but to all of us.”

David Hynes

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Manchester theatre reviews

John and Mark

John and Mark

By Northern Outlet Theatre Company

Reviewed by Paul Thompson November 2014

 

Tantrums and stonewalling have been a couple of responses to George Gunby's John And Mark on the other side of the M62 – and it is this that occupies my mind as I lounge amid the eclectic seating and woozy light of the basement space in Canal Street's Taurus Bar.

 

For over there – in the city where it all started – an argument goes something like this: Lennon assassin Mark Chapman wanted to steal his victim's fame; and any work of art that features the potty pistol wielder as a main character is pandering to that very desire for infamy. At a glance, it's a specious – even seductive – jerk of the knee; but it doesn't take much twisting of the lens to capture the immaturity and farce of this thought process.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Mojo by jez Butterworth

Mojo by Jez Butterworth

By Inceptive Productions at Salford Arts Theatre

Reviewed by Paul Thompson November 2014

 

Come back with me, if you will, on a return journey through time – to a happier time. A simpler time: dodgy haircuts; raucous music; urban posturing; rebellious youth.

 

Yes, as long ago as 1995, Jerusalem scribe Jez Butterworth hit the scene with Mojo, an amphetamine-fuelled, cantering romp of a dark comedy about a paranoid power struggle in a locked-down Soho night club.

 

On the coat tails of last year's West End revival, newcomers Inceptive Productions now bring this unearthed jewel to Salford Arts Theatre – and a well-executed, fairground ride of energy it is too.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Iris by Manana Productions

Iris produced by Manana Productions

Reviewed by Paul Thompson October 2014

 

Three Minute Theatre is the venue equivalent of the Stone Roses playing Fools Gold on Top Of The Pops in 1989 (ask your dad... or Youtube). Funky, stylish and unashamedly indie – the comparison only falls down due to the effortlessly friendly demeanour shooting from all directions. How many times did you go to the toilet at a theatre only to have your plans briefly scuppered by an apologetic member of the cast applying make up? To paraphrase Dorothy: “We're not at the Royal Exchange any more.”  And we're roughly twenty times happier for it.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Reallife Theatre Company presents JB Shorts 12

JB Shorts 12 presented by Reallife Theatre Company

Reviewed by Paul Thompson October 2014

 

In the dingy, urban chic of a Princess Street hostelry, the polished diamond of Manchester's fringe theatre scene – JB Shorts – is back in its twelfth incarnation. Joshua Brooks gives up its basement to fire short, theatrical creations of TV writers like tennis balls from a machine at sell-out crowds.

 

The evening's first course is a serving of horror-themed farce, as Peter Kerry's Mr Normal sets up two couples of adjacent generation in lock down as zombies creep nearer. It's a 'what would you do if you had an hour to live' scenario, with a subtlety roughly akin to a hard kick in the groin. Once the twist is revealed, I'm not entirely sure whom I'm supposed to be rooting for. But maybe that's not the point.

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Manchester music reviews

MADAME X by Tim Benjamin

Tim Benjamin's MADAME X by RNCM

Reviewed by Denis Joe October 2014

The lights go up on the stage and we see Masetto (a painter) and Zerlina (his lover and muse and the model for his paintings). Surrounding them are paintings done by Masetto, who reels off the titles (Woman With Flowered Hat!). They are interrupted by Botney, who is Masetto’s agent, he announces himself (The lovers! There’s no place like home). Two couples enter with Mr Wilmore (a wealthy capitalist) who catches sight of Zerlina (What lovely creature is this?).

 

There then follows a very funny sketch as the two couples harass the painter about the styles he works with. The painter is angered by the intrusions and has to be pacified so as not to upset the couples who are potential customers (Kill not the goose that lays the golden egg! Botney tells him).

 

Lady Brannoch (a wealth aristocrat) enters and introduces herself (...I am the Lady Brannoch, Dowager Countess of Brannoch...). Botney takes it upon himself to introduce Lady Brannoch to the Masetto (...the foremost artist of his generation...) and goes on to show Lady Brannoch Masetto’s works. Whilst the others are viewing the paintings Wilmore corners Zerlina. He disparages her life with Masetto (. . . such delicate perfections, all thrown away upon a senseless rustic . . .). She tells him that she is to marry Masetto but he persists. He tells her that if he cannot have her then he will have her likeness and announces that he will buy all the paintings and leaves.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Boy on a Bed at Lowry Studio

Boy on a Bed at Lowry Studio

Written by Edwin Preece, Directed by Alastair Zyggu, Presented by Organised Chaos Productions

Reviewed by Yvonne Cawley May 2014

 

Boy on a Bed is the story of an unusual love triangle between characters with very different passions, unusual in the importance given to each of their personal passions, which are on the surface fairly unlikely bed fellows in some ways. Adam (Adam Carroll-Armstrong) is the central and pivotal character, very much the innocent abroad and naive to the driving force behind his hobby of running every day, sprinting through snow, heat, gales and rain.

 

Running, Adam gets soaked by a passing bus and Stella (Lily Shepherd), who is training to be an architect at the same college Adam is studying English Literature, kindly offers him a towel - and they are instantly attracted to each other.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Events, Everyman Theatre

The Events at Everyman Theatre

Reviewed by Jane Turner April 2014

 

It was good to be back inside the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool after two years of closure due to re-construction. The new theatre, workshop, bar and restaurant has a beautiful new façade and a light and spacious modern interior. It is not too different to be unfamiliar, with a similar layout that retains the intimate and atmospheric basement bistro that draws you in and envelops you in the hubbub of pre and post theatre gossip.

 

The balcony overlooking Hope Street is a creative addition to the old frontage and a good place to linger and get an appreciative eyeful of the magnificent and under-rated 'Paddy’s Wigwam'. The theatre itself is still snug and informal, but better lit and with seats that don’t make your bum ache after half an hour. My only complaint is the menu, limited and not a patch on the old one. Bring back the chicken curry and those delicious desserts please!

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Manchester theatre reviews

Dear Daughter at Bolton Little Theatre

Dear Daughter at Bolton Little Theatre

Written by John Waterhouse, Directed by Alastair Zyggu

Reviewed by Yvonne Cawley April 2014

 

Nestling in a quiet backstreet in Bolton, the Bolton Little Theatre (BLT) is a real gem. This was my first visit to this wonderfully inviting venue and was really taken with the warm friendly welcome I received. The play was being performed in the smaller of the two theatres that the BLT has to offer, with a 60 seat capacity, just 20 seats on three sides around the central stage area, giving it an extremely intimate feel and ensuring no matter where you are seated you manage to get a fabulous view.

 

Dear Daughter, based on the memoir written by Flora Jewsbury about a difficult adolescence in North Manchester before and during the First World War, whisked us back in time to 1910 where we are introduced to her life as a young child. We see Flora (gracefully played by Carole Bardsley) as an old woman with a constant presence on stage, guiding us gently from scene to scene in the story she so personally illustrates.

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