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Manchester reviewed
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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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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Anarcadia: Ruth Maclennan at Castlefield Gallery

Anarcadia: Ruth Maclennan

Reviewed by Sara Porter September 2011

The Castlefield Gallery until September 18th

 

This exhibition at the Castlefield Gallery entitled 'Anarcadia: Ruth Maclennan' is a collection of video projection and photographic works along with some archive photographs and film footage all taken in Kazakhstan.

 

“A negation of the idyll of the mythical Arcadia, the title Anarcadia also suggests the unleashing of uncontrollable forces, from the past, or in the future” (from the gallery literature).

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Manchester film reviews

Days of Heaven

Days of Heaven at Cornerhouse

Reviewed by Anne Ryan September 2011


As Terence Malik's latest work 'The Tree of Life' closes, the Cornerhouse shows this new print of his second film, a work that already shows the director's trademarks – the detached narrator, the fascination with the nature and the overwhelming beauty of his images.
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Manchester film reviews

The Skin I Live In

The Skin I Live In at Cornerhouse

Reviewed by Anne Ryan August 2011


As Manchester celebrated a rather damp Pride it seemed appropriate to see the latest film from Pedro Almadovar – a bizarre and elegant tale, which makes one question our ideas of love, obsession, beauty and perfection.

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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Old Family Photo

Like you've never been away

Photographs by Paul Trevor
at The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Reviewed by Jane Turner August 2011

 

My earliest memory of being photographed resulted in this picture on the right. Having one’s photo taken when I was a child was a big event, usually involving a borrowed camera or a professional photographer, getting dressed up in your best or at least half-decent clothing and forming some sort of organised pose while smiling rigidly at the camera to the sound of Cheeeeessssse!

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Manchester film reviews

 


Project Nim at CornerhouseNim Learning Sign

Reviewed by Simon Belt August 2011

Directed by James Marsh; Produced by BBC Films, Red Box Films, and Passion Films.


Project Nim is most definitely a film for and of our time - self-consciously demarcating itself from the 1970’s, yet unable to explain what was different then, what we’ve gained and lost, just stating where we are now as though we've always been here. The 1970’s may have been tripping man, with concept albums spanning a couple of LPs, but telling a story was still important, with proper connections and context were a normal part of a narrative.

 

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Manchester film reviews

The Tree

The Tree at Cornerhouse

Reviewed by Anne Ryan August 2011


During the long summer holidays Manchester's Cornerhouse is vital for the cinema goer who is not in thrall to the continuing adventures of the boy wizard or the Smurfs.

 

So on a damp summer Saturday I braved the clear up from the riots to spend an afternoon in the welcoming environment of the Oxford Road venue. As well as access to some of the most exciting and challenging independent films, fascinating exhibitions and a great restaurant, one can also pass a couple of hours enjoying a cup of coffee (and a very tempting looking cake) and browsing through a great collection of magazines and newspapers on the first floor – or just watching Manchester go by.

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