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Tuesday 2nd Jan: First Tuesday Current Affairs discussion

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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester theatre reviews

Justin Moorhouse as Zachariah Munning in ZACK. Photo by Jonathan Keenan

Zack at the Royal Exchange

Comedian, Justin Moorhouse plays Zack in Harold (Hobson's Choice) Brighouses' funny, charming and perceptive tale about the things that make life worth living and how love can flower in unexpected places.

Reviewed by Fat Roland December 2010


When cousin Virginia arrives at the Munnings' to recuperate from an illness in Harold Brighouse's play Zack, she walks into several contradictions.

 

The first contradiction is a family stuck in its ways of seeing, summed up by an early comment from the family's number one son Paul that “you can't fight a prejudice. It's like fighting air.” And yet it's that prejudice that keeps the family's strongest asset, the bumbling younger son Zack, under wraps.

 

The contrast of the two brothers is the engine of the piece. Paul is a starchy tower of controlled anger clad in a brown tie and brown waistcoat. It’s a risk having such a dislikeable character – his zest to get what he wants stretches incredulity to breaking point – but Pearce Quigley plays him with charisma and knowing wit. Think Steve Coogan's cocky character Paul Calf transported back to 1910.

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Manchester book reviews

Not a Chimp

Defending human uniqueness in 'Not a Chimp'

by Jeremy Taylor

Simon Belt offered to publish a response to Iain Brassington’s review of my book “Not A Chimp: The Hunt To Find The Genes That Make Us Human”. I provide my response here without, hopefully, descending to the level of pomposity and gratuitous rudeness that attends his review. I shall restrict myself, at outset, to the observation that while Brassington has clearly picked up a smattering of philosophy during his career as a bioethicist, he has been less successful in his understanding of the relationship between genes and cognition and their relationship, in turn, to human culture, which has thrown up phenomena such as morals and the concept of rights.

 

Brassington calls my scholarship into question a number of times and so I feel I must respond, first, by pointing out precisely where he has mis-represented, or simply mis-read or mis-understood, what points I actually make in the book before I try to make clear as succinctly as possible precisely why I believe humans are unique in terms of their cognition and why I believe this explains and supports the idea that concepts of morality and rights should be unique to humans and are inappropriately extended to any other species.

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Manchester book reviews

Mullah Nasruddin in Marrakech

Mullah Nasruddin in Marrakech – by Mansoor Shah

Reviewed by Dave Porter December 2010

 

Despite only being published last month, this slim volume is already garnering attention from some highly-placed quarters. It has been picked up by the likes of the Lonely Planet and our own Asian News based here in Manchester.

 

Manchester author Mansoor Shah has had the clever idea of taking a popular historical figure from the Middle Ages and dropping him into the modern world to see how the two take to each other.

 

Like Don Quixote, Mullah Nasruddin is a comic mix of the absurd and the worldly-wise, his encounters with the people he meets on the streets of Marrakech providing fertile material for semi-philosophical musings.

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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Adnan Sawar (host), Sara Darwin, Mark Iddon, Paul Iddon - photograph by Ric Frankland

Do Stuff: Sustainability vs. Progress

North Tea Power Cafe - December 2010

Reviewed by Mark Iddon, panel member

Do Stuff is the initiative of Manchester architect, Ric Frankland, and aims to be a series of events on the subjects of design and sustainability with the intention to ‘listen - discuss - debate - Do!’ and will take place on a bi-monthly basis.

 

The first event took place in December 2010 at the North Tea Power café, Tib Street, in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, with a debate on the subject ‘Sustainability vs. Progress’.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Hamlet by The National at CornerhouseHamlet by The National Theatre at Cornerhouse

Filmed live in high definition from the National's Olivier Theatre and broadcast as part of National Theatre Live, directed by Nicholas Hytner.

Reviewed by Anne Ryan December 2010

For most of us the National Theatre is a building a couple of hundreds of miles away – despite the fact that our taxes support the institution, performances are restricted to Londoners and the odd 'provincial' tour. So three cheers for the screening at Cornerhouse and in cinemas worldwide – and why did it not happen a few decades ago?

 

Viewing a play in the cinema is a strange experience – I was never quite sure whether to clap or not! But this was a fascinating and rewarding night at the theatre/cinema.

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Manchester book reviews

Not a Chimp

'NOT A CHIMP: The hunt to find the genes that make us human'
by Jeremy Taylor (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009) xiv+338pp

Reviewed by Iain Brassington

To what extent, if any, do nonhuman animals enjoy a moral status comparable to that of human animals?  Jeremy Taylor’s claim in Not a Chimp is that there is a clear and significant moral gulf between us and them; hence, whatever we may or may not do to nonhuman animals, this is not because they can make the same rights-claims as we.  The basic thrust of the case he makes – I was going to say “argument”, but stopped myself just in time – is simple: much weight has been carried by the idea that humans and their closest nonhuman relatives, chimpanzees, are separated by a mere 1.6% of their genome and that chimps at least should be recognised as having a comparable moral status on that basis; but the genetic story is more complicated than that; therefore the claim about moral status is unsound.

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Manchester theatre reviews

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol at The Lowry

Written by Charles Dickens, presented by the Library Theatre Company, adapted by David Holman and directed by Rachel O’Riordan

Reviewed by Jane Turner December 2010

 

This year's Christmas production by the Library Theatre Company in their temporary home at The Lowry Theatre is A Christmas Carol.


I’m not a connoisseur when it comes to Dickens, and I confess a little shame-facedly, given that I am reviewing a production of his work here, to having never read one of his books from start to finish. I own quite a few of his works, and have started and re-started many of these plenty of times, and almost finished one or two. I could probably recite the front page of several right here, right now.

 

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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Frank Sidebottom by Wayne Marsden of Design by Particular

Frankophilia!

An exhibition of artwork by Frank Sidebottom fans

Reviewed by Fat Roland November 2010

I've followed Frank Sidebottom from his surreal infancy on Granada TV and his cartoon adventures in print (Frank's Fantastic Oink! Page) to his recent revival on Channel M.


Following the passing of his creator Chris Sievey earlier this year, Timperley's silliest export is now the subject of a comprehensive exhibition at Salford University. I visited the show carrying the whole weight of my Frank fandom: this was either going to be, as Frank would have it, bobbins or fantastic.

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Manchester book reviews

Ferraris For All

Ferraris For All by Daniel Ben-Ami

Reviewed by Mark Iddon November 2010

‘Ferraris For All’, is a book of bold ambition setting out to defend the idea of economic progress, from those with the presently dominant view who the author refers to as growth sceptics. It is also published at a time when we appear to have been at low point of the worst recession since the 1930’s, following the near collapse of the banking industry. The Labour Party has been recently voted out of office and the ConDem coalition attempts to reduce the national deficit with savage cuts to public spending and the Bank of England expresses deep uncertainty about the future.

 

Now, in complete contrast, Daniel Ben-Ami, a well established journalist specialising in writing on economics and finance for over 20 years, makes a very novel statement suggesting that everyone in the world should own a Ferrari. The title of the book is attributed to WORLDwrite, an education charity committed to global equality, whose slogan is ‘Ferraris For All’. Ben-Ami notes, however, that actually the Ferrari is symbolic, and it is not essential to be restricted to that particular brand, but it is about the aspiration and ambition for everyone to have much more than they actually need.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Followers of Dionysus in THE BACCHAE. Photo by Jonathan Keenan

The Bacchae at the Royal Exchange

An all new version of this dark and liberating play, produced and created by artistic director Braham Murray.

Reviewed by Iain Brassington November 2010

I once had a politics tutor who decided that it was important that we should study The Bacchae, and that we ought to be drunk before the tutorial started, on the basis that… well, on the basis that it’s The Bacchae.  Since then, there’s been a small part of me that’s wanted to try my hand at directing it. But how? 

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