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Tuesday 6th March: First Tuesday Current Affairs discussion

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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester film reviews

Viva! Spanish and Latin American Film Festival

¡Viva! Opening Gala, Cornerhouse

Reviewed by Ian Betts March 2012

 

Why do we need foreign language film festivals? Should we even group films by the language they are produced in? There is an argument that movies should be judged on equal terms and not ghettoised by notions of national identity, or ignored because they carry subtitles.

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Manchester film reviews

Rampart

Rampart at Cornerhouse, Manchester

Reviewed by Ian Betts March 2012

 

Apparently, Woody Harrelson’s father was a contract killer. Convicted for murder in 1973 when Woody was 12, and later given a life sentence for murdering a judge, Charles V Harrelson spent the majority of his son’s life in prison until he died there from a heart attack in 2007.

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Manchester film reviews

The Comedy of Errors

The Comedy of Errors, National Theatre

Screened at Cornerhouse, Manchester

Reviewed by Anne Ryan March 2012

 

In these harsh times, it's good to see the National Theatre so popular, with international screenings of audience friendly plays and performances like this, including the likes of Lenny Henry. Following the success of James Cordon in One Man, Two Guvnors, once more we see a comedian and TV star on stage, beamed to a screen at the Cornerhouse.

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Manchester music reviews

Welsh National Opera - The Marriage of Figaro

The Marriage of Figaro (in Italian) by WNO

Reviewed by Denis Joe February 2012

 

Of the three operas that Mozart composed to libretti by Lorenzo Da Ponte The Marriage of Figaro is perhaps the most popular. Welsh National Opera presented their latest production of Don Giovani last year and will be presenting Cosi Fan Tutti in the autumn season, later this year. The three operas are recognised as amongst the greatest ever written and The Marriage of Figaro as one of the most perfect operas (see Anthony Negus in WNO programme p.12).

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Daughter-in-Law by DH Lawrence

The Daughter-in-Law by DH Lawrence

Performed at The Lowry, directed by Chris Honer

Reviewed by Charlotte Starkey February 2012

 

D. H. Lawrence completed his play The Daughter-in-Law in 1913, the same year in which he published Sons and Lovers, and one year after the miners’ strike which had split the mining workforce in the Nottinghamshire coalfields, particularly in the Eastwood Colliery (Lawrence was born in Eastwood).

 

The play was never performed whilst he was alive, only opening in 1967 at The Royal Court. Before then he had written A Collier’s Friday Night (1906), containing some of the ingredients of Lawrence’s continuing concerns as a writer: a struggling mining family whose main wage-earner drinks, is despised, and against whom the rest of the family struggle to find some sense of identity and purpose.

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Manchester music reviews

Welsh National Opera - Beatrice et Benedict

Beatrice et Benedict by WNO

Reviewed by Denis Joe February 2012

(English translation based on Geoffrey Dunn, OUP 1965)

 

Based on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice et Benedict is not appreciated as well as the rest of the Berlioz output. And whilst the composer rated it as a divertissement - and it is seen very much as that today –  I think it is a masterful piece. Commissioned for the opening of a new opera house in Baden-Baden, in 1862, Beatrice et Benedict was to become Berlioz’s last major work.

 

Berlioz worshipped Shakespeare’s work and only used a part of Much Ado About Nothing adding the role of the composer, Somarone, the duet, a beautiful nocturne that closes the first act, sung by Ursule and Héro (Vous soupirez, madame!), the trio of Héro, Beatrice and Ursula (Je vais d’un cœur aimant) and Beatrice’s heart-stopping aria (Dieu! que viens-je d’entendre?).

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Manchester film reviews

The Woman in the Fifth

The Woman in the Fifth

Screened at Cornerhouse, Manchester

Reviewed by Anne Ryan February 2012

 

The fashion for established Hollywood actors to laud the films of the 1970s and lament the fact that adult films are no longer made continues with The Woman in the Fifth. While Ethan Hawke may not have the stature of Clooney or Pitt he too has spoken of this film harking back to a golden age. This is a self-consciously European film showing the terrible things that can happen to the innocent American abroad.

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Manchester music reviews

Welsh National Opera - La Traviata

La Traviata (Sung in Italian) by WNO

Reviewed by Denis Joe February 2012

 

Perhaps the two most popular opera composers, these days, are Puccini and Verdi. Whilst the former’s output dwarfs the latter, only a handful of Verdi’s operas remain popular, and none more so than La Traviata. It is the staple production of many opera companies and an opera that is guaranteed to get ‘bums on seats’. That would suggest that the chances of presenting the work in a novel fashion are pretty slim. But David Mc Vicar’s La Traviata (first performed two years ago) certainly gives food for thought and in doing so creates the realisation that the composer, even at the height of his popularity, did not rest on his laurels.

 

The Prelude to this opera is, for me, the most perfect beginning to any opera. We know from the start that it will not end well for the characters, as the orchestra plays the quiet bars, that we will hear again in the third act: the leitmotif of Violetta on her death bed. It is the most heart-rendering music I can think of and describes a scene that could be nothing other than tragic. Slowly the prelude picks up tempo as we go backwards into the fading heartbeats that will dominate the second act. Then there is a pause, as the curtain rises to reveal a large group of people, enjoying what life has to offer.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Lion King Press Launch. Photo by Sara Porter.

The Lion King Musical UK Tour Press Launch

at The Comedy Store, Deansgate

Reviewed by Sara Porter February 2012


There can be few people who have not at least come across the story of Simba who is driven into exile after the death of his father and his epic journey to then become the King of the Pridelands. Originally an animated Disney cartoon, the multi-award winning musical first opened at Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre in 1997, reaching London in 1999 where it has played to packed audiences ever since. In September 2012, The Lion King begins it’s first ever UK tour, making it’s way to Manchester for an 18 week run at The Palace Theatre from December 6th.

 

As Manchester will be the home of the tour for it’s longest run, it was also chosen to be the location for its press launch. The Comedy Store at Deansgate Locks provided an ideal, intimate setting for the launch. A simple set was all that was needed with the now iconic, The Lion King logo projected onto a screen central to the stage and either side of the stage sat the masks for Mufasa and Scar.

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Manchester theatre reviews

A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire

A Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Production

Reviewed by Jane Turner February 2012

Kicking off its 2012 season with the Tennessee Williams’ classic A Streetcar Named Desire, the Liverpool Playhouse brilliantly re-create the hustle, bustle, whirl and wonder of New Orleans City. The street sounds and soul are brought to mesmerizing life in this historic and intimate Liverpool theatre by a superb Peter Coyte arrangement.

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