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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester theatre reviews

ImproQuo and the Bridge Street Irregulars

at Gullivers NQ, Manchester

Reviewed by John Waterhouse, January 2018

 

It’s theatre Jim but not as you know it, as Dr McCoy would have almost certainly said to Captain Kirk, had they both been at Gullivers Pub in Oldham Street on Tuesday. This is improvised comedy, performed without a script, theme, props, or anyone having any idea at all what’s coming; just six actors (or sometimes less) being given random ideas and letting everyone see where it leads them. The result is unpredictable mayhem which is fast, funny, and engaging.

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Manchester theatre reviews

North West Wonders

North West Wonders

at 53TWO, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall January 2018

 

This was an evening of 8 short plays very much in the style of a J B Shorts evening, performed on a mostly bare stage with a minimum of set, props and costuming, meaning that the turnaround between plays was swift and efficient.

 

This though was Baps Theatre; a company run by three actresses living and working in Greater Manchester, and this was their paean to the creativity and talent of the North West of England. All the writers, directors and actors in the 8 plays we saw all haled from the region, and proved beyond doubt that this region is teeming with talent.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Hamlet

Hamlet at Lowry Theatre

Reviewed by Andrew Marsden January 2018

 

Out of all of Shakespeare’s plays, Hamlet is both the longest and the most famous. For actors the title role is one of the biggest parts to perform, in terms of lines to learn and the role’s status as one of the most iconic in the English theatrical tradition.

 

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s latest staging of the show is currently on tour, following a well-received production last year. But how can a play such as Hamlet, so often quoted and staged numerous times, be made to feel fresh? This production, directed by Simon Godwin, goes some way to reinterpreting the play and is, for the most part, successful in this endeavour.

 

Recent years have seen the role of Hamlet played by critically adored actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston, while Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre shook things up by giving audiences a female Hamlet in the talented form of Maxine Peake.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Night Terror

Night Terror

at New Adelphi Theatre, Salford University

Reviewed by Andrew Marsden February 2018

 

Presented as part of the ‘Practical Research Projects 2018’ fortnight at the University of Salford, Night Terror by H & M Theatricals, Night Terror explores issues around Combat-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in returning veterans from the war in Afghanistan (2001-present). Being part of a larger programme has placed obvious timing constraints on the piece and, as a result, the play feels like it is only just beginning to scratch the surface of the issues it wants to explore. This is not to diminish the important message of the play, or the quality of this staging of a piece which is clearly still in development, but instead highlights the amount of potential which is already instilled in the piece and deserves to be examined and teased out further in future productions.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Play That Goes Wrong

The Play That Goes Wrong

by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer & Henry Shields

at Storyhouse, Chester

Reviewed by Jane Tuttle January 2018

 

Mischief Theatre Production’s hilarious comedy, The Play That Goes Wrong, epitomises British humour at its best - the art of laughing at ourselves. The story revolves around an over ambitious amateur dramatics society (Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society); a bunch of am dram actors; an incompetent stage management team and a highly wayward set as they attempt to perform, dun dun duuuun... ‘Murder At Haversham Manor’.

 

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Manchester theatre reviews

Nina - A Story About Me and Nina Simone

Nina - A Story About Me and Nina Simone

at Lowry Theatre

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall January 2018

 

I think these days, at least in this middle-class white man's perspective, Nina Simone will be remembered far more for her music output than she ever will as a political activist. This show therefore, helped me to understand and to redress the balance.

 

The play, which has evolved and re-evolved over several years, and is a co-production by The Unity Theatre in Liverpool and The National Touring Theatre of Sweden, Riksteatern, is an 80 minute long cri-de-coeur by solo performer Josette Bushell-Mingo.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Thrill of Love

The Thrill of Love

by Amanda Whittington

at Stockport Garrick

Reviewed by Simon Belt January 2018

 

The Thrill of Love dramatises the true story of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain, following her shooting of lover David Blakely on Sunday 10 April 1955. It uses the character of a Detective Inspector Jack Gale (Chris Rogerson) to tease out Ruth's story, by sympathetically and warmly unpicking her confession.

 

We are introduced to the theme of the play by Ruth (Rachael Stronge) stating ‘I am guilty. I am rather confused’. We are subsequently invited to speculate on the troubled state of mind behind the actions of this self-confessed violent murderer. Facts of Ruth's circumstances are less spelt out than implied which is a little frustrating but teases a desire to search out more, compelling to a degree a sustained focus on D.I. Gales' revealling of circumstances.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Wear Pearls and Smile - Kings Arms

Wear Pearls and Smile

King's Arms Theatre, Salford

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall January 2018

 

Silver Pine productions' latest offering is an evening of 5 one-act plays which tackle mental health, dysfunctional families, breast cancer, alcoholism, hospitals and being over 50 all with sensibility and humour, and with a deal of insight and truth in there too. The title being a quote from the third play.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Weir at Lowry Theatre

The Weir at Lowry Theatre

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall January 2018

 

Conor McPherson's award-winning modern classic, The Weir tells the story of storytelling. Oral storytelling is something that is as old as the hills, and our stories, our superstitions, beliefs, and even our customs and language have all been passed on from generation to generation through this medium. A medium that you might think in our modern day of alternative communications and technology would be lost or at least on the decline.

 

Not so in a remote village community in rural Ireland. The local pub is the place for such stories, and as the men folk use this pub as their source of entertainment they delight in telling stories and bantering with each other over a pint.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Jane Eyre at Bolton Octagon

Adapted by Janys Chambers & Lorna French

Reviewed by John Waterhouse and Karen Pearson, January 2018

 

Creating a new adaptation of Jane Eyre, a novel that has been the subject of generations of theatrical, musical and screen versions, may seem like a frightening task. The 1846 classic by Charlotte Bronte has enjoyed unfading popularity and well deserves a fresh stage production, yet how is this to be done in 2018? Should a writer bring her own emphasis for a contemporary audience? Or aim to let the powerful original narrative speak for itself? Janys Chambers and Lorna French's script is both faithful and energising. Their passion for the novel shines through every line.

 

Chambers first fell in love with the story as a ten year old - the same age her heroine appears in scene one as a book lover and deep thinker. Her version condenses the drama, deception and romance of the story in two hours of cleverly constructed dialogue.

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