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Tuesday 3rd July: First Tuesday Current Affairs discussion

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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester film reviews

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises

Reviewed by Ian Betts July 2012

 

There is a terrorist on a plane. While he and his devoted followers murder its passengers, he shows no signs of remorse, nor fear of reprisal. Explosions dismember the hull and as the metal carcass of corpses falls to the ground, the terrorist escapes promising to wreak only greater havoc.

 

His name is Bane.

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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Niet Normaal: Difference on Display

Niet Normaal: Difference on Display

at the Bluecoat, Liverpool until 2nd September 2012

Reviewed by Denis Joe July 2012

 

This exhibition, comprising of the works of 24 artists, is part of the third annual DaDaFest, featuring work by international as well as regional artists, has been programmed by the Liverpool-based DaDa (Disability and Deaf Arts) organisation, formerly known as the North West Disability Arts Forum.

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Manchester theatre reviews

A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Lyric Hammersmith and Filter Theatre Production

Royal Exchange, Manchester

Reviewed by Charlotte Starkey July 2012 

 

Thomas Bowdler, editor of The Family Shakespeare, took his task as a censor to take out of the text words or expressions that ‘could not with propriety be read aloud in a family’. It was variously published (1807 and 1818) just in time to anticipate the tastes of some nineteenth century households and his efforts have often been lampooned since then. A Midsummer Night’s Dream did not escape his eye.

 

Bowdler was not the first, nor to be the last, to amend, edit, truncate or adapt the texts of Shakespeare’s plays. Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare (1807) was to be gloriously illustrated in 1899 by Arthur Rackham (the programme gossamer-pink illustration for the Lyric/Filter production evokes that epoch of fairyland innocence).

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Manchester book reviews

Adropiean Galactic Lego Set Blues by Fat Roland

Adropiean Galactic Lego Set Blues by Fat Roland

Pages: 84, available from Italic Eyeball Shop

Reviewed by Denis Joe July 2012

 

There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.
[Salvador Dali]

 

There is a long tradition of surrealism in Britain, the works of Lewis Carroll or Edward Lear being prime examples. One could also include the last two novels of James Joyce. In the twentieth century, surrealism gained a wider audience through radio and TV shows such as The Goon Show and Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Whereas one can detect an element of snobbery, knowingness, in much of this type of entertainment, in later years a more Absurdist take would develop, with the popularity of Vic Reeves or The League of Gentlemen and a near rejection of rationalism, where we respond because we are made to feel unsure about what it is we are experiencing.

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Manchester book reviews

Full Blood by John Siddique

Full Blood by John Siddique

published by Salt Publishing, pps. 112

Reviewed by Denis Joe July 2012

 

Full Blood is one of the most exciting collections of British poetry I’ve come across in the last few years. John Siddique stands apart from the much of the poetry scene in Britain that, with a few exceptions, seems to be dominated by crude confessionalism and even cruder moralism. Here Siddique presents us with poems that call on his life for inspiration. Whether about childhood or adulthood, Siddique’s poems draw you into experiences rather than places in time.

 

The group of poems under the title The Knife are a case in point. The opening poem, National Front, begins rather blandly:

Their mouths full of fire and alcohol;
they patrol the town; night and weekends

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Manchester film reviews

Poster for killer Joe

Killer Joe, Cornerhouse

Reviewed by Ian Betts July 2012

 

It is deeply enjoyable when typecast actors take on roles that corrupt their clichéd screen personas. Robin Williams did it in 2002 for One Hour Photo by portraying an obsessive photo-lab technician who constructs a delusional reality for himself using other people’s images. Having set himself up as a feel-good wizard of the sickening and schmaltzy after winning the Oscar for Good Will Hunting, Williams moved on from emotive dross like Patch Adams and Bicentennial Man by refashioning himself as a disturbing, compulsive fanatic, combining his ability to evoke our yearning for kindness and compassion with darker, more sinister urges.

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Manchester music reviews

Manchester Jazz Festival Radio

Manchester Jazz Festival: Preview 2012

in Manchester from 13th July to 21st July

by Charlotte Starkey July 2012

 

In just a few days’ time the 17th Manchester Jazz Festival opens. Each summer for the past sixteen years Manchester city centre, at different venues, has come alive to the sounds of the saxophone, clarinet, guitar, keyboard, percussion and vocals – all the voices of jazz. Like the water that endlessly bubbles from the Jubilee fountain in Albert Square (marking Queen Victoria’s sixty years), drawn from the ever–flowing streams that feed the great lakes and reservoirs of Cumbria, the rhythms of jazz pulse, whine, fill the air with waves of sound around Albert Square, St Anne’s, the musical venues of concert halls and bars.

 

You can get married in the Town Hall, step outside and forget the expensive hotel you booked, buy your drinks and food from the numerous stalls and enter into the groove; there’s your reception laid on, inside and outside the big Festival Pavilion, shared by every passer-by drawn in, en route from the office, the shop, the train station, just like the wedding-guests of Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, captivated by some haunting lonely horn.

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Manchester book reviews

Glass is Elastic by Jon Glover

Glass is Elastic by Jon Glover

Publisher: Carcanet Press, 128 pages

Reviewed by Denis Joe July 2012

 

I first came across Jon Glover’s work a few years ago with the collection Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It was a collection that joined a trend of poetry publications at the time, which included Maurice Riordan and Jocelyn Bell Burnell’s Dark Matter: Poems of Space. Of course using Science as a theme for poetry is nothing new, John Donne’s poetry is testimony to that, and one can even go back as far as Lucretius’ On The Nature Of The Universe.

 

The drawback to creating thematic genres of poetry is that the theme becomes the primary concern rather than the poetry itself, which can be a drawback if you create a narrowed audience. For someone who has done so much for the poetry in this country, and is one of the few real artisans (who I would rate along with Geoffrey Hill, for the real workmanship that goes into their poetry), being seen for autobiographical or propagandist dabblers that populate much of the poetry scene in Britain, would be a grave mistake.

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Manchester book reviews

Weirdo. Mosher. Freak by Catherine Smyth

Weirdo. Mosher. Freak. by Catherine Smyth

The Murder of Sophie Lancaster

Reviewed by Simon Belt June 2012

 

From the outset, this book is direct and down to earth. It reports the violent assault, in their local park in the early hours of Saturday 11 August 2007, on Sophie Lancaster and Rob Maltby from the Lancashire town of Bacup, the subsequent court case and development of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. Sophie never recovered from her injuries and her life support machine was turned off on Friday 24 August 2007. Aged just 20, Sophie suffered her fatal injuries while cradling her boyfriend Rob’s head in an attempt to protect him from the cowardly assault which started on him. Although Rob was released from hosiptal the same day, his injuries have profoundly affected his life since. So what insights do we get from this book?

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Manchester music reviews

Welsh National Opera - Tristan and Isolde

Tristan and Isolde by Welsh National Opera

Reviewed by Denis Joe June 2012

 

A Wagner opera production is always an event unmatched by any other. The passion displayed on stage is generally reflected by the audience. Perhaps no other opera produces greater feeling than Tristan and Isolde.

 

Based on the 13th Century poem of Tristan by Gottfried von Strassburg, Wagner took one section of the story and rewrote it. The result was an opera that casts a giant shadow over all aspects of musical composition, even to this very day. As the conductor of this performance says in the programme notes “With its expansion of harmony, its achievement of chromatic independence, and its ‘emancipation of dissonance’, Tristan ultimately leads the way to atonality and to twelve-tone composition.” We can certainly feel the hand of Wagner’s Tristan on the early Schoenberg and throughout Mahler’s works.

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