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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester book reviews

Injustice

Injustice: Why social inequality persists by Daniel Dorling

Reviewed by Ken McLaughlin February 2013

 

When the British welfare state was set up, it targeted what its main architect William Beveridge called the five ‘Giant Evils’ of ’Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness’. Significant social and economic advances may have seen the gradual eradication of the worst aspects of all these targets, but in Injustice: Why social inequality persists, Daniel Dorling argues that they are being replaced by five new tenets of injustice. According to him these take the basis of beliefs that ‘elitism is efficient’; ‘exclusion is necessary’; ‘prejudice is natural’; ‘greed is good’ and ‘despair is inevitable’.

 

So, for Dorling, well meaning attempts to eliminate very poor education have unwittingly helped fuel the rise of a new injustice by beginning to promote the widespread acceptance of elitism; whilst very few people in the UK will starve from lack of food, want is replaced by social exclusion whereby there are many who cannot afford the norms of society such as a yearly holiday abroad; prejudice is recast as the maxim that those at the lower end of society are there due to their inherent weakness; greed is portrayed as a good and encourages us to want and consume more and more food and other commodities; and despair is seen as inevitable as we in the West suffer rising levels of mental illness.

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Manchester music reviews

Madam Butterfly, Welsh National Opera

Madam Butterfly by Welsh National Opera

Reviewed by Denis Joe Feruary 2013



Of all the great opera composers Puccini ranks as the highest in the hearts of many people; not just opera audiences but those who have heard his arias on adverts or Classic FM, or as soundtracks to films. Italian football fans may draw on the inspiration of Verdi to suggest the physical might of footballing competition, but it was the BBC’s use of Luciano Pavarotti's 1972 recording of Nessun dorma (None shall sleep, from Puccini’s opera Turandot) that, as the theme song for the coverage of the 1990 FIFA World Cup, captured the passion of the game and the hearts of millions.

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Manchester theatre reviews

David Copperfield at Oldham Coliseum

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Adapted by Alastair Cording, Directed by Kevin Shaw, at Oldham Coliseum

Reviewed by Simon Belt and Yvonne Cawley February 2013

 

This was our first visit to the Oldham Coliseum, despite it being in the back of our mind to go sometime - and what a delightful experience it was! From the convivial and relaxed welcoming reception of box office, ushers and bar staff to the familiar faces from the northern soaps sat next to us in the bar chatting freely with those around. No pretence and a down to earth directness you expect in Oldham, and just being part of an extended family of theatre goers and doers. The brochure references supporters and volunteers and this really does permeate the mood around the foyer and bar.

 

Notably spacious, the auditorium has really comfy seating, with plenty of leg-room and something also commented on by the people behind us (in the stalls). It transpires that they were installed last year which just adds to the experience, and even just a few rows from the stage we didn’t have to crane our necks to look at the stage as is sometimes the case in theatres. The acoustics were great too - just there when they were needed without ever thinking about them, indicating some elegant delivery which doesn't distract from the focus of the stage.

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Manchester music reviews

Lulu, Welsh National Opera

Lulu by Welsh National Opera

Reviewed by Denis Joe Feruary 2013

“She was created to incite to sin, to lure, seduce, poison—yea, murder, in a manner no man knows.”   (Frank Wedekind)

Lulu is seen by many as one of the greatest operas of the 20th Century (if not the greatest). Left unfinished by the untimely death of Alban Berg, the opera was performed incomplete by the Zurich Opera in 1937. It wasn’t until 1979 that the world premiere of the three act Lulu, completed by the renowned composer and musicologist, Friedrich Cerha, was performed at the at the Opera Garnier, conducted by Pierre Boulezi.

 

For this production WNO have used a third version of Lulu, by the German born musicologist Eberhard Kloke allowing performers a freer hand in shaping scenes and dramatic developments. But Kloke does not deviate very far from Cerha’s approach. This was the UK premier of Kloke’s version.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Accrington Pals

THE ACCRINGTON PALS By Peter Whelan

Performed at Royal Exchange, Directed by James DacreDesigned by Jonathan Fensom

Reviewed by Emma Short January 2013

 

Using the fond template and rich underpinnings of northern childhood memories Peter Whelan brings to life the stories of the men and women of Accrington during the push for volunteer recruits for the Somme offensives during World War I. Like many northern communities at the time, such as in Liverpool and Sheffield, it saw its young men go off to fight in Kitchener's Army, side by side with their pals to fight for King and Country, patriotic and motivated to do the right thing.

 

The first major action of the battalion known as the Accrington Pals, the attack on Serre on 1st July 1916, saw them suffer devastating losses, culminating in the deaths of almost a whole generation of young men that never returned. Out of around 720 of the Accrington Pals that enrolled 583 were killed, missing or wounded. The play brings to life the reality of these events and those leading up to them. It also follows the stories of the women of Accrington in their supporting roles, their newfound work roles, how they adjusted, and their desperate struggle to find out about their fighting men.

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Manchester theatre reviews

M by Vertigo Theatre

'M' by Craig Hepworth and Adele Stanhope

Produced by Vertigo, Performed at Three Minute Theatre

Reviewed by Yvonne Cawley January 2013

 

It is always a pleasure to return to Manchester’s Three Minute Theatre, with its welcoming and intimate atmosphere – just like going home and getting comfy in your favourite armchair waiting for the main feature to start on telly. Only, a trip to 3MT is an experience that you can never achieve (or only dream about) on your 3D HD TV, as with M by Vertigo is a real, in your face action and drama drawing you in and making you part of the whole event.

 

The play ‘M’ by Craig Hepworth and Adele Stanhope, billed as ‘a homage to trashy thrillers of the 90s from Cruel Intentions to Basic Instincts plus tipping its hat to the old stage thrillers’ was a treat for sure. What I was expecting from the promotional blurb was a kind of slap stick, tongue in cheek and funny plot with a storyline basically made up from snippets of various old movies. What I actually witnessed was an extremely sleek and beautifully ‘executed’ production with wonderfully worked plots (and oh yes we were treated to a whole host of these).

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Bubbler

The Bubbler by Cathy Crabb in re:play Festival

Produced by The Library Theatre at The Lowry

Reviewed by Helen Nugent January 2013

 

Boss, mint, proper good, there aren’t enough Manc adjectives in the world to describe the wonderfulness of Cathy Crabb’s The Bubbler. This is the kind of play you want to tell your mates about.

 

The Bubbler first opened at The Kings Arms in Salford last year. Thanks to the re:play Festival, a showcase of the best of Manchester’s fringe now in its sixth year, there is another chance to see it. The two cast members have reunited for this run, staged by House of Orphans and Eat Theatre in one of The Lowry’s bars. As site-specific shows go, it doesn’t get any better: the play is set in a pub.

 

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Manchester theatre reviews

Mother Courage and Her Children

Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht

Produced by The Library Theatre at The Lowry

To be reviewed by Dave Porter February 2013

 
Translated by Tony Kushner, Directed by Chris Honer, and Music by Greg Palmer.


Bertolt Brecht’s stirring Mother Courage and Her Children opens the 2013 season of productions from Manchester’s Library Theatre Company, at The Lowry in Salford on Friday 22 February 2013.

 

The version of Brecht’s classic script the Library is presenting has been translated by Tony Kushner. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Lincoln, he is best known in theatrical circles for his 1993 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, which the Library Theatre Company presented in 1999.

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Manchester music reviews

Delia Derbyshire

Delia Derbyshire Day 2013

Band on the Wall Manchester and FACT, Liverpool

Reviewed by Denis Joe January 2013

 

An event celebrating the work of Delia Derbyshire held a lot of promise. The day began with a showing of ‘The Delian Mode’, the award winning documentary by the Canadian film maker Kara Blake. Blake’s film is a great exploration of the work of a genius who would go on to influence both pop and serious music.

 

Taking her most famous creation, the realisation of the theme music for the TV series Dr. Who, we can see how much impact this would have on later music, in particular the movement that became known as Krautrock, in the late 1960s - before the availability of commercial synthesisers. The score was composed by Ron Grainer, though realised by Derbyshire who was working as a sound engineer at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Each note was created by various sounds recorded onto analogue tape, which were then manipulated by varying the speed of the recording, and then splicing the tape together for the overall theme.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Arabian Nights

Arabian Nights by Library Theatre

Adapted by Dominic Cooke, Directed by Amy Leach

Reviewed by Jane Turner December 2012

 

Once upon a time, in Austerity Britain towards the end of a rather tough year, in a forgotten land called Salford far, far away in the North-West of England, there stood at the water’s edge, an imposing steel-clad theatre built at great cost when “times were better”. One cold and wintry December day, with frost on the ground and gloom in the air as a triple-dip recession was looming, hundreds of people gathered outside the doors of this mighty theatre, ready to escape from the cold and the news, for a few hours at least, and eager to be entertained in a warmer climate.

 

Suddenly, a tall, dark man in a red hat appeared in front of the great big shiny doors and shouted “Open Sesame”, and the people gazed in awe, as the steely theatre opened its doors and ushered them in to the cavernous theatre and safe from the cold, cold icy fingers of the chilly climate. From the bleak and grey Salford streets, they scuttled inwards to take up their seats ready to be transported to warmer and more fruitful shores. All cosy, within the tented walls of an Arabian souk, they marvelled at the electrifying scenes before them.

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