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First Tuesday current affairs discussion - Tuesday 8 January 7:00pm start

Tuesday 8th January: First Tuesday Current Affairs discussion

We'll discuss the stories breaking in 2019, introduced by Simon Belt

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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester film reviews

Haywire with Gina Carano

Haywire and female action heroes

Reviewed by Ian Betts January 2012


Gina Carano is an extraordinary woman: star of American Gladiators and professional Mixed Martial Arts, she’s a lethal purveyor of rib-busting kicks and jaw-shattering blows. Undefeated until her recent encounter with Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Santos (has since been accused of steroid use), Carano is known for her untarnished good looks, indomitable grit and killer moves such as the ‘rear-naked chokehold’.

 

She’s no lady... well, not in the Victorian sense of the word. She was recently quoted as saying, “I think everybody should get punched in the face once in a while just to, like, wake them up, you know?”

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Manchester theatre reviews

Oliver! Photos by Alastair Muir

Oliver! Palace Theatre, Manchester

Book, music and lyrics by Lionel Bart: Freely adapted from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist

Reviewed by Helen Nugent February 2012


In a year when the world is awash with adaptations and celebrations of Charles Dickens’ work, a revival of Lionel Bart’s musical version of Oliver Twist could be considered Dickensian overkill. Does the public need another depiction of the great writer’s Victorian underworld during the 200th anniversary of his birth?

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Manchester theatre reviews

An Inspector Calls at The Lowry

An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestley

Performed at The Lowry, directed by Stephen Daldry

Reviewed by Charlotte Starkey February 2012

 

An Inspector Calls has been a perennial favourite of the English syllabus in schools and still remains so. Comments by groups of school parties after the performance at The Lowry ranged from ‘Wow!’ and ‘Brill!’ to the more controlled ‘An amazing evening!’ and ‘Really enjoyable’.

 

As I arrived coaches were departing for, and arriving from, different parts of the North West and beyond. What seemed like an army of young GCSE students was leaving the earlier matinée performance, pouring down the stairs like the hordes of Hannibal’s army over the Alps, but thankfully more triumphant and peaceful, milling around in excited chatter, lingering in the foyer or leaving; and then another invading army of young theatre-goers approached, sweeping up the stairs like a surging wave to pack the theatre for the evening performance.

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Manchester book reviews

How to Direct a Play

How to Direct a Play: a Masterclass in Comedy, Tragedy, Farce, Shakespeare, New Plays, Opera, Musicals

by Braham Murray. Oberon Books, London, 2011

Reviewed by Dr Charlotte Starkey January 2012

 

A new book by Braham Murray, the fruits of his many years as a successful theatre director not least at The Royal Exchange in Manchester, is relevant to the interests of a number of groups: student dramatists, aspiring directors, designers, stage managers, in fact anyone directly involved in theatre; teachers of drama as a performance subject, teachers and lecturers and students of plays as texts both in school and university; and, most importantly, anyone who loves theatre and who loves reading a well-written narrative.

 

It is witty, anecdotal, informed, informative, intimate and frank. This is the work of a professional expert and Braham Murray’s account of ways to approach Shakespeare as a director (followed by a discussion of producing and directing Greek drama) is one of the best practical discussions of how to approach a Shakespeare play both as text and performance that one could find today. The book is not a bible in how to direct a play; it is one man’s account of what has, and has not, worked for him – a passionate, dedicated, lived and lively statement of what can happen when theatre is performing powerfully; and Murray believes deeply in the importance of theatre for the world beyond the stage.

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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Liverpool Poetry Cafe

Liverpool Poetry Café

with Pauline Rowe, Clare Kirwan and Dave Jackson

Reviewed by Denis Joe January 2012

 

Attending a poetry event in Liverpool can sometimes seem as if you have gate-crashed some group therapy session or some private fan-club party. In the way that you always see the same old faces on trade union marches these days, so too it is the case with the poetry events. If the person on stage isn’t whinging about how they lost the love of their life, or ranting bile about their hatred for those ‘lowlifes’ from the north of the city then you will get some decent poetry, which is, sadly, lost in the dross.

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Manchester film reviews

The Descendants

The Descendants

Screened at Cornerhouse, Manchester

Reviewed by Anne Ryan January 2012

Yet another Oscar nominee hits our shores and this time it is George Clooney’s latest work – where Mr Smooth plays a family man facing up to the responsibilities of fatherhood in the idyllic setting of Hawaii.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Two by Jim Cartwright

Two by Jim Cartwright

Performed at Royal Exchange, directed by Greg Hersov, designed by Amanda Stoodley

Reviewed by Emma Short January 2012

 

With an emphasis on the tentative balance of self and other within a relationship, Jim Cartwright's Two takes us on a journey through the most intimate insights and fluctuations within couple dynamics. The secrets shared at the bar over a pint are captured in all their innocence, arrogance and transparency evoking a sublime pathos that grips the breath.

 

Justin Moorhouse and Victoria Elliott play all 14 of Cartwright's characters with tremendous versatility, flair and imagination. The range is astounding, from small boy, to bullying boyfriend, chipper landlord and wistful old man to mirror the portrayal of the scorned other woman, ground down elderly carer, brow beaten girlfriend to over excitable Maudie.

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Manchester lifestyle reviews

 


Omid Djalili: returns to stand-up

Omid Djalili at Liverpool Philharmonic

Reviewed by Fat Roland and Simon Belt January 2012

Firstly, Fat Roland's take on the performance

Omid Djalili’s appearance at the Liverpool Philharmonic did nothing to dispel my belief that stand-up comedy is a bit broken. I once went on a stand-up comedy course in which I was taught to brainstorm, to use the mic, and to find the funny. The course leader used clips of television comedians – think charity balls, gigs in palladiums, Saturday night fodder – as an example of stand-up. But the course leader was wrong to do this as television comedy is not stand-up.

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Manchester film reviews

Coriolanus

Coriolanus directed by Ralph Fiennes

Screened at Cornerhouse, Manchester

Reviewed by Anne Ryan January 2012


Ralph Fiennes is a great stage actor and a generation of frightened children can now attest to his skills on screen as Harry Potter’s arch enemy. In Coriolanus we have a chance to judge his talents as a director. Olivier and Branagh both produced straight versions of Shakespeare’s heroic plays, Fiennes has chosen to tackle a more complicated leading role and a notoriously difficult play.

 

For those not familiar with the play Coriolanus is a Roman general at odds with his fellow citizens who is forced to ingratiate himself with the masses to secure power. The play is the story of the violent consequences of democracy and the relationship between the military and the people. Mirroring this public struggle is the dynamic between Coriolanus and his ambitious mother Volumnia.

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Manchester book reviews

Technology and the Philosophy of Religion

Technology and the Philosophy of Religion

by David Lewin (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011)

Reviewed by Charles Brickdale January 2012

 
What matters is what works’  Tony Blair.

 

Blair’s aphorism was meant to justify such departures from socialist doctrine as the Private Finance Initiative and, perhaps, taking money from the likes of Bernie Ecclestone.

 

What it also does is encapsulate a mode of thinking about and experiencing the world which David Lewin describes in his thought-provoking book as ‘technological nihilism’, an orientation based upon a ‘false anthropology which arises out of the failure to see things primarily as given.’ In other words, Lewin’s concern is with the implications of living in a culture which dwells entirely in the kingdom of means and has lost sight of the kingdom of ends.

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