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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester theatre reviews

Days of Wine and Roses

Days of Wine and Roses

by Elysium Theatre Company at 53two, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall October 2017

 

Manchester really is a treasure trove of theatres, with new venues popping up seemingly endlessly. One would think that both living in the city and being a part of the profession known as thespian, I would have seen and visited them all... but no! Last night saw me enter a completely new-to-me space which was intimate and surprisingly accommodating. I have visited the main theatre at 53two many times before, but this was my first visit to their 'Studio' which is housed in the building next door. I loved the space.

 

The second pleasant surprise came from the production itself. I had absolutely no idea what to expect since I had to my eternal embarrassment, never seen the famous film from which it is based; however, as all good reviewers should, I have since done my research and even watched some of the film. The most surprising thing was just how completely different the two were and yet also how wonderfully similar too. I loved the writing of this play, by Owen McCafferty; very concise, neat and excellently balanced packing the punches yet still managing to preserve its dignity. I now also like the lovely idea of transposing the action to Belfast and London, and adding the extra twist of the sectarian troubles in Ireland.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Kite Runner

by Matthew Spangler (adapted from the novel by Khaled Hosseini)

at The Lowry

Reviewed by John Waterhouse October 2017

 

The Kite Runner tells the dramatic story of two boys growing up in Kabul before and during the time of the Taliban. It is a love story, a tale of betrayal and about the universal relationship between father and son. The Kite Runner is also a tale of two worlds; life in Afghanistan’s ancient culture contrasted with modern, glitzy America, as one of the friends attempts to live in a very different society. It is no co-incidence the author of the original novel, published in 2003, Khaled Hosseini is himself an Afghan/American.

 

The story is probably best known through the film version, the premiere of which scheduled for November 2006 had to be put back six weeks in order to get child stars out of Afghanistan after they received death threats. Whilst well-received in the West, being put forward for several awards, the film drew outrage in Afghanistan itself because of the depiction of ethnic tensions, with accusations the lives and security of the people had been ‘played around with’.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Antigone

Antigone at Lowry Theatre

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall October 2017

 

The Actors Of Dionysus visited The Aldridge Studio of Salford's Lowry Theatre and performed their 70 minute non-stop one act reworking of Sophoclese's Antigone to a capacity audience.

 

The Actors Of Dionysus are well known for their work with both the ancient classics and bringing these into the spotlight, making them relevant for today's youth. This production was no different, and indeed, for the audience made up by the vast majority of school students studying this text at A-level, then it certainly ticked all the boxes.

 

It was the right length to keep them engaged, with no interval for them to lose concentration; it was modernised and simplified beyond textual recognition; the plot and themes were drummed into us; and the whole presented very much in the way I remember student experimental presentations were thirty plus years ago!

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Manchester theatre reviews

Up ‘N’ Under by John Godber

at Oldham Coliseum

Reviewed by John Waterhouse October 2017

 

Up ‘N’ Under is the third play at Oldham Coliseum within the last year based around a football or rugby club and for my money, by far the best of the three. In this play, the characters are rounded individuals who clearly love rugby.

 

This is not to the exclusion of almost everything else and so rather than being a study in obsession, Up ‘N’ Under is a funny story, following on a similar tack to ‘The Full Monty’ (which did not itself come out until thirteen years later). Comparisons can also be drawn with the 2006 Vince Vaughan movie, ‘Dodgeball’.

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Manchester theatre reviews

One Man Bond

Written and performed by Brian Gorman

at The Commercial Hotel, Chester

Reviewed by John Waterhouse September 2017

 

Brian Gorman is a writer immersed in 60’s and 70’s popular culture and his feeling for the period comes through in this very entertaining one-man show. That is not to say however that the period from the 80’s through to the present day is short changed because One Man Bond does what it says on the packet; all 24 official (i.e. Eon Productions) James Bond films are covered, more or less equally, in the space of an hour.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Ghost Dances

Ghost Dances - Rambert

at Lowry Theatre

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall September 2017

 

The Rambert Dance Company, formerly Ballet Rambert, surely need no introduction; as one of the most famous and successful contemporary ballet / dance companies in the world, drawing dancers from all corners of our globe to work with them, yet still remaining something of a British institution, and regular visitors to Salford's Lowry Theatre.

 

This evening's programme consisted of three approximately 30 minute pieces of totally contrasting nature, the third and final one being the Ghost Dances of the title.

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Manchester theatre reviews

THE BAND

THE BAND: Take That's New Musical

at Opera House, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall September 2017

 

This is a brand new Musical in Manchester for its World Premier performances before embarking on a long tour. The Band of the title is one of the most successful bands of all time, and a band which started out in Manchester as a boy-band with five young and talented lads under the title of Take That.

 

Fitting then, that the Musical should premier in their home city.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Wipers Times

The Wipers Times

at Opera House, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall October 2017

 

Over a period of two years, one young officer brightened up the lives of British and allied military fighting The War To End All Wars (which will be over by Christmas) by producing a satirical trench newspaper known as The Wipers Times.

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Manchester theatre reviews

One For The Road

One For The Road by Willy Russell

at The Lyceum Theatre, Oldham

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall September 2017

 

I think for the first time ever, my visit to Oldham's Lyceum Theatre this evening wasn't marred by inclement weather and I managed to arrive at the theatre dry. A very good start, which only got better once inside.

 

The Lyceum Theatre is a little strange in that it occupies the basement of the old 1839-built Lyceum Building, and the small but intimate theatre itself is actually underneath the road, meaning that nowadays we can hear the rumble of passing Metrolink trams above. It is certainly not an ideal building or location for this company of talented creatives, but somehow this simply doesn't seem to phase them, as the standard of both things technical and acting always ensure that their company remains amongst the top ten amateur companies within Greater Manchester.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Aladdin

Aladdin by Birmingham Royal Ballet

at Lowry Theatre

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall September 2017

 

Birmingham Royal Ballet have done it again, and produced a piece of magical theatrical entertainment which is suitable for young and old alike. This time they have chosen the well-loved story of Aladdin.

 

When one thinks of Aladdin one either immediately thinks of pantomime or the wonderful Disney cartoon film; but there are other variations on the same theme out there too, all telling a very similar story with the odd difference here and there. One of these is the ballet score by the talented and wonderful contemporary composer Carl Davis, whose score for Aladdin is simply magical.

 

In this production Davis's music is done full justice by Paul Murphy conducting the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, and on stage itself these sweeping chords and lyrical melodies are equally complemented by a simple but expertly designed set by Dick Bird. When lit by Mark Jonathan's creative design it was highly effective, evocative and simply stark and beautiful.

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