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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester theatre reviews

Runaway Shadows

Runaway Shadows at Contact

based on a story by Lyman Frank Baum and directed by Nick Clarke

Produced by Contact Young Actors Company and Fink On Theatre 

Reviewed by Julia Taylor  December 2012

 

On the night I saw Runaway Shadows at the Contact Theatre, Manchester it was an accessible performance for deaf people with an interpreter using British Sign Language. I wondered if this might distract hearing people from the performance but I’m glad to say that after the first few minutes we didn’t notice her and she must have been a boon to those who can’t hear.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Simba played by Nicholas Nkuna

The Lion King

at The Palace Theatre

Reviewed by Sara Porter December 2012

 

It’s nearly twenty years since the story of Simba the lion cub of Disney’s animated story The Lion King, first graced our screens. Simba’s story from eager young lion cub who “Just Can’t Wait To Be King” and is driven into exile having been convinced by his wicked uncle Scar that he is responsible for the death of his father.

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Manchester music reviews

Barb Jungr, something special

Barb Jungr

Rodewald Suite, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

Reviewed by Denis Joe November 2012


Once in a while you go to a gig and you realise that it is something special. There are few singers who can match Barb Jungr, and even fewer who can take a song and reinterpret it as well as making it their own.

 

It takes a love of the material and an intimate appreciation of a song to give it a new lease of life and one thing you are made aware of is that Barb Jungr does really love the songs that she sings. These songs are not primarily ‘crowd pleasers’; you’ll not find any of the dull diva songs (‘I am Your Lady’ or that awful song from ‘Titanic’) on Barb Jungr’s set list or her albums.

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Manchester lifestyle reviews

The Sunny Side of the Street (The Portico Library)

Clare Allan: Burnt Wood and Paper

at The Portico Library, Moseley Street

Reviewed by Simon Belt November 2012

 

I first saw Clare Allan's fabulous drawings earlier this year at the opening exhibition of the Spring Bank Arts Centre in her native New Mills, Derbyshire. Clare's talent for drawing what she feels rather than literally sees, expresses warmth and grit, grandeur yet grounding, so that her subject's personality talks to us more than her technique.

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Manchester theatre reviews

A Government Inspector

A Government Inspector

A Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Production

Reviewed by Jane Turner November 2012

 

Eeeh by gum! A contemporary and “daft as a brush” northern adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s Revizor, jam-packed with northern caricatures and northern “blethering” with lots of “faffin’” and the quintessential oomph of a brass band. Crackin’!

 

Adapted by Deborah McAndrew and directed by Conrad Nelson this fantastic farce was performed by a versatile and talented team of twelve Northern Broadside actors. This classic Russian script has been transposed across time and space from a remote Russian village to a modern-day provincial Pennine town. It works well in its new setting because in essence it is about corruption, which as anyone knows is translatable into any language, any history, any culture and right into the present day. The new setting – “so remote that even the residents don’t know whether they are in Lancashire or Yorkshire” – could be where you or I live.

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Manchester music reviews

A feast for the senses

A Feast for the Senses by Richard Whalley

Reviewed by Denis Joe November 2012


I discovered the music of Richard Whalley having attended a concert in Liverpool given by Ensemble 10/10 last year. On the programme was a piece, specially commissioned by Ensemble 10/10, A Very Serious Game, which is the first composition on this albums, is based around three lithographs by the Dutch Artist M.C. Escher: The House of Stairs, Three Worlds and Metamorphosis.

 

The piano opens the first movement with a feeling of walking that tries to maintain an order as the woodwind instruments threaten to undermine the pace. Yet House of Stairs section grabs the listener from the outset and repeated listening only reinforces  the order as each instrument battles for dominance with its own melody. To that extent the piece reminds me of Elliot Carter’s work, particularly the Cello Sonata. And like the approach of Carter, Whalley keeps a tight rein on the music.

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Manchester music reviews

Così fan tutte - Welsh National Opera

Così fan tutte by Welsh National Opera

Reviewed by Denis Joe November 2012


Conductor: Mark Wigglesworth
Director: Benjamin Davis
Designer: Max Jones

 

Over the years I have seen around five different productions of Così fan tutte, and however beautiful the music, I always come away feeling unsettled by what is a morally repugnant libretto; and perhaps the fact that the music is so wonderful seems to make the experience all the more distasteful.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Loneliness of the Long Distance RunnerThe Loneliness of The Long Distance Runner

A Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Production

Reviewed by Jane Turner November 2012

 

“You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power – he’s free again”. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

 

In Alan Sillitoe’s classic story of freedom, Colin Smith the protagonist is a free man by this definition and chooses to make his own history but not in conditions of his own choosing. In doing so, he exercises his free will and demonstrates his resilience and determination.

 

Elliott Barnes-Worrell as Colin Smith certainly goes the distance and delivers an adrenaline rush in more ways than one, in this compelling and brave adaptation in a contemporary setting, of an Alan Sillitoe classic. The adaptation is by BAFTA winning and Olivier Award nominated playwright Roy Williams OBE (Sucker Punch, Fallout, Sing Yer Heart Out For The Lads).

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Manchester theatre reviews

Orpheus Descending at Royal Exchange

Orpheus Descending

Royal Exchange, Manchester

Reviewed by Dave Porter October 2012 

 

Gore Vidal’s nickname for Tennessee Williams was ‘the Bird’ because so many of his plays were based around the idea of flight: characters in flight from reality or each other.

 

In Orpheus Descending, which receives a sumptuous revival at Manchester’s Royal Exchange, the motif is a central and recurring one. When handsome drifter Valentine Xavier wanders into a Deep South merchandise store he tells the owner – Lady – of a mythical bird which never sets foot on earth and sleeps on the wing.

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Manchester music reviews

Christine Tobin: Sailing to Byzantium

Sailing to Byzantium at the RNCM

A collection of 12 poems by W B Yeats, set to music by Christine Tobin for the Manchester Literature Festival

Reviewed by Helen Nugent October 2012


If you ascribe to the view that song lyrics are essentially lines of poetry, it should come as no surprise that someone has set the works of one of Ireland’s most respected poets to music.

 

A lesser artist might have baulked at the prospect of scoring the literary canon of W B Yeats but, judging by yesterday’s performance at the Royal Northern College of Music, Christine Tobin relished the opportunity. Part of the hugely diverse Manchester Literature Festival, Tobin tackled one of poetry’s modern greats and, for the most part, succeeded in capturing Yeats’ passion and intensity.

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