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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Democratic Promenade at the Bluecoat

Democratic Promenade

at the Bluecoat, Liverpool until 27 November 2011

Reviewed by Denis Joe October 2011

 

Someone in Liverpool’s art sector must be working their way through a list of nouns or adjectives and is ticking them off one by one; counting down to Year Zero. This year the word is ‘Radical’ and as part of Liverpool City Of Radicals 2011, the Bluecoat’s artistic director, Bryan Biggs, has overseen this exhibition which looks at how the artists engage with the radical, through their work. The exhibit draws on works from the 20th century onwards.

 

Admittedly the celebration of Liverpool radicals takes place a century on from three events that happened in the city: the first post-impressionist exhibition of British artists took place at the Bluecoat; the famous Liver building, a radical architectural development, was completed and Liverpool became paralysed by a transport strike, which some say was near to revolution. The work of David Jacques’s work features prominently. His Serif types (2011), that can also be seen as a sort of Sopas de letras, dominates the publicity.

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Manchester music reviews

Ian McCulloch

Echo and The Bunnymen at Liverpool Philharmonic

Reviewed by Jane Turner October 2011

Stop the Press: McCulloch the messiah incites mutiny!

 

Last night I witnessed a reluctant rebellion in the aisles of the Liverpool Philharmonic! The messiah McCulloch with tongue in cheek, rebelliously called on his followers to “fill that aisle” after an earlier comment that he had “never seen so many obedient people sitting down instead of standing up”. As the messiah spoke of “so many regulations that it is now impossible to make a Lancashire sausage” his followers were roused from their seats and took to dancing in the aisles with gusto – an activity not seen around here for years. Hundreds of happy people ignored the anxious gesticulating of the “chuckle brothers” as McCulloch had cheekily nicknamed the “bouncers”, and the people were at last back in their rightful place, on the land that was rightfully theirs and dancing in the aisles instead of wiggling politely from in or behind their seats. In an appeal to the “chuckle brothers” McCulloch declared “these are our people, they’re not doing anything wrong” and with that the party really got started; Echo and The Bunnymen were back in town!

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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Ford Madox Brown exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery

Ford Madox Brown: Pre-Raphaelite Pioneer

Manchester Art Gallery

Reviewed by Dr Charlotte Starkey September 2011

 

It is always an illuminating experience to have the opportunity to see in one collection the major output of a significant artist, and the exhibition showing the work of Ford Madox Brown (1821 – 1893) at Manchester Art Gallery provides such an encounter. It is a reminder of the important links that cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham have with Pre-Raphaelite art in their permanent collections; and it is a fortunate legacy of Victorian entrepreneurs, that they helped to fund the museums, art galleries and other cultural institutions of the industrial cities and towns, seeking out the works of the Pre-Raphaelites in particular so enthusiastically. Ford Madox Brown was born in Calais in 1821. He was educated in Belgium, then lived in Paris and settled in London. Manchester became his home later in life when he was commissioned by Manchester Corporation to paint murals of the history of Manchester for Waterhouse’s Town Hall. He lived first in Crumpsall and then in the Victoria Park area of Manchester between 1881 and 1887.

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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Rene Magritte Exhbition at Tate Liverpool

René Magritte: The Pleasure Principle

Exhibition at Tate Liverpool

Reviewed by Denis Joe September 2011

There is something about Belgium that exudes anonymity. Mention Jacques Brel and most people will scratch their heads. Mention some of his songs like 'If You Go Away' or 'Amsterdam' and people will know what, rather than who, you are talking about. Even Belgium's most popular export, Stella Artois lager, is usually thought of as being French. Identifying Rene Magritte has the same problem: many people are familiar with his work, but few can put a name to the artist.

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Manchester music reviews

Ramsbottom Festival

Ramsbottom Festival at the Cricket Club

Reviewed by Helen Nugent September 2011

 

In a country where there are more music festivals than you can shake a stick at, is it folly to launch a new one? The organisers of the new Ramsbottom Festival didn’t think so. And judging by the weekend’s entertainment this boutique event deserves a permanent place in the summer festival fixture list.

 

Before a musician had played a note, the Ramsbottom Festival looked like a promising bet. Who could fail to love a festival which, in addition to a main arena, had a second performance area entitled ‘T’Other Stage’? Added to this was a Beer Tent serving locally-brewed delights (including the fragrantly-floral Ramsbottom Festival Ale) and a range of mouth-watering treats in the Food Village. Kids were also well-catered for in this family-friendly town nestled in the shadow of the West Pennines.

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Manchester film reviews

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Reviewed by Denis Joe September 2011

Staring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy. Directed by Tomas Alfredson

 

George Smiley [to Karla]: We are not so very different, you and I. We've both spent our lives looking for the weaknesses in one another.

 

The BBC are probably the best indicator of the approach of elitism that pollutes British society. If you look at the early years of TV, for example, you will see that the bosses of the corporation were on a mission to force their ‘superior’ tastes on the British viewing public, and when ITV came in they were generally seen as catering for the lower classes and their ‘base’ tastes.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Look Back in Anger

Look Back in Anger by John Osborne

Presented by Blackhand Productions

Reviewed by Helen Nugent September 2011


A young actor puffing thoughtfully on a pipe during the opening scene of a play usually means one of two things: a production modelled on the revue style of the ubiquitous Cambridge Footlights or a period piece that sits awkwardly in the 21st Century. Mercifully, last night’s performance of Look Back in Anger didn’t succumb to either of these two possibilities.


Thanks to the combined talents of Manchester-based Blackhand Productions, the incongruity of a 20-something youth sucking on a pipe never threatened to descend into cliche. Nevertheless, it must be daunting to take on John Osborne’s ground-breaking masterpiece. Tempting, too, to place the original kitchen-sink drama in its rightful era of the post-war, post-empire 1950s. But this edited version of the controversial classic rooted its harsh and filthy realism very much in the present. Osborne wrote his bitter polemic more than half a century ago, but director Helen Parry’s production felt like a play for today.

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Manchester theatre reviews

One Man, Two Guvnors

One Man, Two Guvnors

by National Theatre at Cornerhouse

Reviewed by Anne Ryan September 2011

 

The reviews promised one of the summer's funniest plays, 'Carlo Goldoni meets Harold Pinter in a riotous farce set to skiffle', and as summer slips away I think that's what we got.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Samuel Collings (left) as Piers Gaveston and Chris New as King Edward II. Photo by Jonathan Keenan.

Edward II by Christopher Marlowe

Performed at Royal Exchange Theatre, directed by Toby Frow and designed by Ben Stones

Reviewed by Charlotte Starkey September 2011

 

Five weeks after the murder of Christopher Marlowe, on the evening of 30th May 1593 in Deptford, the text of Edward II was entered in the Stationer’s Register, as required by law, and it has been argued that the play itself was in existence as early as 1591 – a date recently argued for some of Shakespeare’s English history plays, too. Marlowe dramatizes the brief reign and downfall of a monarch whose dates (1284 – 1327) mark a fractious period in England with nobles excluded from power and decision-making, a weak king reliant upon favourites, civil war and a wife, Isabella, participating in the plot against her husband. Material like this was the stuff of playwrights such as Shakespeare and would continue to be so in Shakespeare’s ‘Henriad’ (Henry IV, Part One and Two, and Henry V), Richard II (so close in theme and structure to Edward II) and Richard III.

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Manchester film reviews

 


Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre at Cornerhouse

Reviewed by Anne Ryan September 2011


It is said that there are only seven stories, everything else is merely an adaptation of our founding human myths. Jane Eyre is the story of a poor and plain woman who finds independence and love, albeit with the wrong man (although we in the audience know that they are destined for each other). In a contemporary chick flick, Jane would be beautiful, although wearing glasses or unfashionable clothes, and would be transformed by designer labels, as well as love. In Charlotte Bronte's novel, and this faithful adaptation, Jane remains true to herself and shows the audience that even though she is 'little, plain and poor', she deserves a fulfilling life.

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