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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester theatre reviews

The Addams Family

The Addams Family at Lowry Theatre

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall August 2017

 

Aria Entertainment in association with Music And Lyrics have brought the creepy and kooky clan, complete with singing and dancing dead ancestors, to Salford's Lowry Theatre. This is fast, fun, slick, and highly entertaining, and even before the first note was sung, the augurs were good as an impressive and versatile set by Diego Pitarch greeted us, cleverly lit throughout with a subtle but clever lighting design including one of the best dry ice sequences I have seen (Ben Cracknell).

 

The Addams Family have been around and in our cultural consciousness for many years, in the form of newspaper or television cartoons, and then a TV series and finally on film. Their creator Charles Addams first showed the world his characters way back in 1938. Few of us therefore could be unfamiliar with who and what these ooky people who delight in the macabre were. It is therefore full credit to the Casting Director, James Orange, for finding a cast who were simply perfect.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz at Stockport Plaza

Performed at Stockport Plaza

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall August 2017

 

A pantomime in August? Oh yes there is! Regal Entertainment Ltd's latest production sees the famous and familiar story of a young girl from Kansas travelling over the rainbow in a twister and finding herself in the magical land of Stockport, sorry Oz! [or, as the best line from the show states - the place of wannabe Mancunians!]

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Manchester theatre reviews

Bring on the Bollywood

Bring on the Bollywood at Oldham Coliseum

by Phizzical Theatre Company

Reviewed by John Waterhouse July 2017

 

This is a show that delivers everything it says on the packet; a colourful, vibrant musical celebration of everything associated with the Bollywood phenomena, pleasing to the eye and leaving a feel good factor.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing at Palace Theatre

Performed at Palace Theatre

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall July 2017

Dirty Dancing, The Classic Story On Stage, by Eleanor Bergstein hit Manchester's Palace Theatre last night, but it didn't just hit the board, it scored a bull's eye.

 

I have seen various incarnations of this Musical over the years, but this one for me, has to be the definitive version. If the only 'fault' I can find with this production is that I could see the cast enter through a black curtain behind the set revealing the stage left wing, then director Frederico Bellone, his team and cast have done an absolutely sterling job!

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Manchester theatre reviews

Forever Changes

Forever Changes at 53two Theatre

by Dave Jones

Reviewed by John Waterhouse July 2017


Billed as ‘A gripping, pacy probe into the impact of domestic abuse’, Forever Changes actually offers much more than just a graphic portrayal of violence in the home. Over the course of an hour, it packs in a very varied and interesting insight into the causes and effects of an often hidden social issue, using music, imaginative staging and powerful performances.

 

Dave Jones’ play looks at the issue from various aspects, with both the victim and perpetrator being allowed to separately give their side of the story alongside the investigating police and the victim’s mother whilst dramatizing the central relationship through set piece mini-scenes. What sets Forever Changes apart from most plays of this genre is the way live music, often blended with dialogue, enhances the changing mood throughout the performance creating real tensions and alleviating the need to show the actual violence.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Father

The Father at Oldham Coliseum

by Florian Zeller

Reviewed by John Waterhouse June 2017

 

The strap-line ‘a powerful and moving play about the devastating impact of dementia’ basically says it all. The acclaimed French playwright Florian Zeller has captured the internal angst of a terrible disease perfectly, whilst sensitively showing how the other concerned parties are affected. Credit must also be given to Christopher Hampton for a smoothly-flowing translation. The play does not attempt to offer any answers; how could it? Instead perhaps, it enables those of us with no direct experience of sufferers to be a little more sensitive to the condition, giving powerful insights into the complex and varied mental states of victims of dementia.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Out of Order

Out of Order by Ray Cooney

Performed at Opera House

Reviewed by John Waterhouse and Charles Britten May 2017

 

They say a week is a long time in politics, but in Ray Cooney's brilliant farce Out of Order, a few seconds is all it takes to transform a situation - almost invariably for the worse.

 

For those familiar with the traditions of Whitehall farce, Out of Order is might seem almost a users’ manual of standard devices, from the dignified man losing his trousers (wearing sock suspenders of course), unexpected guests presenting a potential crisis to an almost non-stop opening of doors as the situation gets ever more complicated but this doesn’t matter when we are carried along with action, right from the very beginning. This is one which does not have a slow build-up, grabbing us from the start.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Thoroughly Modern Millie

Thoroughly Modern Millie

at Palace Theatre, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall May 2017

 

Originally conceived as a vehicle for the great Julie Andrews, this is a Musical that you think you ought to know. It seems somehow familiar, and one or two of the songs you seem to recall, and yet after watching tonight's production, I really don't think I have seen it before. At least not this version. It is fresh, alive, vibrant, and funny, and try as I might, there is no way in the world I could imagine Julie Andrews playing the lead character the way it was done this evening.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Hard Times

Hard Times at Oldham Coliseum

by Stephen Jeffreys adapted from the novel by Charles Dickens

Reviewed by John Waterhouse and John Gormally May 2017

 

The novels of Charles Dickens have an almost timeless appeal. Each new generation continues to relate the sufferings and travails of his protagonists to the injustices and wrongs of their own world. It may also be said that only William Shakespeare can equal Dickens in giving us across his various works such a broad range of characters who remain familiar to us, demonstrating both admirable virtues and all too human failings. How many other writers other than Shakespeare and Dickens have given their names to the actual times they lived in.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Toad KnewThe Toad Knew at Lowry Theatre

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall May 2017

 

A highly original and creative spectacle which sees six talented performers inhabit a dark and sinister, perhaps subterranean, world where the boundary between animal and human is unclear. Their purpose is seemingly to create pure light from a looming, omnipresent, ominous but excellently constructed set of lights hanging down from the stage, all interconnected and all seemingly with a life of their own. It could be said that once these come together it represents a giant heart that beats for all of their 'kind', or maybe it is an all-seeing eye that they need to worship.

 

If I am honest, then there are several stories; all of which intertwine, within this 100 minute non-stop roundelay, and I think every audience member will come away from the evening with a different insight and impression, with their own version of the story that has unfolded before them. I think that that was the company's intention.

 

Using physical theatre, dance, song, slapstick and circus skills all to excellent effect, this company of 6 inhabit this stage and their world with accomplished ease, and yet we know that it takes years of practice to make some of those moves look graceful and simple.

 

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