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Theatre Reviews

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Manchester theatre reviews
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Manchester theatre reviews

Westernized by Nathan SmithWesternized by Nathan Smith

at 53 Two, Manchester

Reviewed by John Waterhouse, July 2018

 

As Monty Python was fond of saying, ‘And now for something completely different’. For a start, the venue is not actually the Viaduct-housed 53 Two theatre space but a marquee pitched on the tarmac outside. The stage set, of a bar, is actually a working public bar; opening half an hour below the show and both manned and frequented by the cast (complete with poker tables). Unfortunately, due to a spot of rustling by some low down, good-for-nothing, lazy, cheatin’ varmints, the only whisky being served is Scotch and not Bourbon but the music is naturally country and so by the time the show proper commences, the audience has already been truly ‘Westernised’.

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Manchester theatre reviews


Live your best lifeLive your best life

A one-woman show by Emmy Fyles

at Gullivers NQ, Manchester

Reviewed by John Waterhouse, July 2018

 

What is your best life? The self-help shelves of book shops are full of definitions whilst advertisers are constantly telling us how their products can help us achieve it. Can a whole industry of therapists and councillors really advise us on how to get it and are we convinced by images of both celebrities on TV and people we know on social media seeming to have it? With this premise, has put together a very comprehensive exploration of all these questions.

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Manchester theatre reviews


The Play That Goes WrongThe Play That Goes Wrong

at The Opera House, Manchester

Reviewed by John Waterhouse and Charlie Britten, June 2018

 

In theory, the problem with having a play where the main theme is everything going wrong is that, if anything doesn't actually happen as it should, nobody among us poison pen-wielding reviewers will notice. Then again, maybe that's exactly the point.

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Bread and RosesBread and Roses

by Ian Kershaw

at Oldham Coliseum

Reviewed by John Waterhouse, June 2018

 

Bread and Roses is the first musical premiere for a little while at Oldham Coliseum, offering an interesting blend of authentic Salvation Army hymns and American blues and soul protest songs. The story follows real historical events in the year 1912 which, whilst largely unknown on this side of the pond, are startlingly reminiscent of events in England a century before and whilst not exactly America’s Peterloo massacre, many parallels are clearly evident.

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Hobson’s ChoiceHobson’s Choice

by Harold Brighouse

at Salford Arts Theatre

Reviewed by John Waterhouse, June 2018

 

The now half-forgotten genre of Lancashire comedies was one of the mainstays of British theatre in the first half of the twentieth century, but one play from that fold has more than stood the test of time, retaining its popularity as it keeps being discovered by new generations over a century after its premiere; Hobson’s Choice.

 

Many of the issues within the context of the play are now very dated such as the position and expectations of women and the levels of deference between both salesperson and customer, employer and employee (or master and servant to use the parlance of the time). However, the characters are all very believable and their respective hopes and aspirations resonate very much with us today, even if the contexts may differ. Hobson’s Choice is also an interesting time-capsule of a bygone age.

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Manchester theatre reviews


A Taste of HoneyA Taste of Honey

by Shelagh Delaney

at Oldham Coliseum

Reviewed by John Waterhouse and John Keane, May 2018

 

This is certainly one of the powerful post-war British plays, and as ground-breaking and daring when it first came out in 1958. The play still packs a relevant poignant social statement, raising political questions without becoming bogged down in party doctrines or policies.

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Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Priscilla Queen of the Desert

at Altrincham Garrick Playhouse

Reviewed by Katie Leicester, May 2018

 

The beautiful renovated Altrincham Garrick Theatre hosted the flamboyant musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert, a particularly risqué script for the locals full of glitz, glamour, glitter and sexual connotations.

 

Directed by the talented Joseph Meighan, a young producer who seems to turn everything he touches into gold, this may have been an amateur show, but make no mistake there is absolutely nothing amateur about this production and I certainly was not prepared for the magnificent ingenious masterpiece I was about to witness.

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Manchester theatre reviews


Blood BrothersBlood Brothers
at Palace Theatre

Reviewed by Katie Leicester, May 2018

 

Willy Russell’s long running successful musical Blood Brothers graced the Palace Theatre in Manchester. I can’t imagine that there are many people who don’t know this infamous storyline as it has been performed by amateur and professional actors and actresses on numerous stages and venues throughout the UK and worldwide for more than 3 decades.

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Long Day's Journey into Night, photo by Tim MorozzoLong Day’s Journey into Night

by Eugene O’Neill

at HOME Theatre

Reviewed by John Waterhouse and John Gormally, May 2018

 

Widely regarded as one of the great 20th Century plays, Long Day’s Journey into night is a powerful story leaving you coming away from it knowing that you’ve watched a family in insolubale turmoil.

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Stags and Hens (The Remix)Stags and Hens (The Remix)

at The Altrincham Garrick Playhouse

Reviewed by Katie Leicester, May 2018

 

Willy Russell was born in 1947 in Whiston, Merseyside, into a working class family with an alcoholic father and a mother who worked in a warehouse. He grew up around very strong women relatives who later influenced him to write about believable convincing Liverpudlian female characters in the 1970’s such as Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine and Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers. I was intrigued to see how this ‘remix’ of Stags and Hens had changed from the original staging in the 1980’s.

 

Russell originally wrote Stags and Hens in 1978, and was first published in script format in 1986. He adapted 75 percent of the original script in 2008 to produce 'Stags and Hens - The Remix'. In this new script he has sharpened the pace and added modern lines appropriate to the present day, and included a lot more swearing but has kept the storyline and the period intact. The play is set in 1977 rather than present day because stag and hen parties are more commonly hosted abroad nowadays and not in back street night clubs in the UK.

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