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Theatre Reviews

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Manchester theatre reviews
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Manchester theatre reviews

Oliver! Sale Nomads

Oliver! - Sale Nomads

at The Waterside Arts Centre, Sale.

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall October 2017

 

Of all Lionel Bart's Musicals, Oliver! is the only one to have survived, and continues to be popular with both amateur and professional companies. It's full of good tunes, it has a worthy storyline, it's based on a classic novel, it has children in it, it's family friendly, it has great characters, a great balance between tragedy and comedy - basically it has everything for an entertaining evening out at the theatre.

 

No wonder then that this Musical is the one I have, I think, seen more times than any other. And so I must take my hat off to Sale Nomads and say a huge congratulations - it is the first time I have ever seen both boys and girls in the workhouse scene at the beginning. Yes, I know historically that boys and girls had separate lodgings but somehow I have never bought into girls pretending to be boys here and so having the girls in the ensemble actually being girls and not boys was a first for me, and an absolute delight. Well done.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Suicide

The Suicide - at HOME, Manchester

by Manchester School Of Theatre

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall October 2017

 

As part of their final year of three year's study, students at Manchester School Of Theatre have the privilege of performing in public performances of some rather wonderful, and usually lesser known masterpieces of theatre. At the moment they are using HOME Theatre whilst they await the completion of the renovation to their own 'home' The Capitol Theatre. The plays chosen for them are on the whole certainly not mainstream fayre, and although classics, are a little obscure, and this one was absolutely no exception.

 

The Suicide is a play by Russian dramatist Nikolai Erdman, and when it was written in 1928 it was immediately banned by the Soviet authorities as it quite clearly was anti-communist propaganda. It also saw Erdman transported to Siberia, and he had to wait 41 years before the first production (in Sweden), and until after his death before it was ever performed in Russia.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard at Palace Theatre

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall October 2017

 

Writing reviews for shows which are practically perfect are always much more difficult somehow because they can come across as sycophantic and gushing rather than genuine. Therefore I am warning the reader now, this review is neither sycophantic nor gushing but completely heartfelt and genuine. I was totally blown away by this show!

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Manchester theatre reviews

Stay Happy, Keep Smiling

Stay Happy, Keep Smiling

at 53two, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall October 2017

 

Presented by Manchester Actors' Platform, and directed by MAP's founding director Simon Naylor, this is a piece of theatre that will stay with me for a long time.

 

The play is an amalgam of 5 separate stories seemingly unconnected apart from one simple, but shocking and life-changing thing. They are all eye-witnesses to a brutal murder by an assumed Isis terrorist of a soldier on the street near where they all live. And although the terrorist's actions didn't touch them physically, this play deals with the emotional response and recoil that witnessing the event has on them. How they are forever changed by it and how they try and cope with the vision and knowledge of it, and how those they love and those they live with try and understand too.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

at Palace Theatre, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall October 2017

 

First written as a short, 20-minute piece for school children to sing, this was Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice's first public airing way back in 1968! Since then it has been adapted and expanded ad nauseam into the show we have today.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Threepenny Opera

The Threepenny Opera

at The Octagon Theatre, Bolton

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall October 2017

 

Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's seminal collaboration, based on John Gay's Beggar's Opera, about the seedy underworld character Mack The Knife's downfall, The Threepenny Opera, was given a very modern up-to-the-minute political twist this evening by director, David Thacker for Bolton Octagon's new production of it.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Khloé Kardashian

Khloé Kardashian - The Arden

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall October 2017

 

This is the review for a show called Khloe Kardashian.

Sound.

Sections of script from Tchekov's Three Sisters are projected onto a screen at the back of the smoke-filled stage.

The sound becomes louder and more intense.

Enter a man into a pool of light speaking monotonously and methodically into a microphone.

He is dressed in a grey mouse costume.

............................

The Arden School of Theatre's students from the Theatre And Performance degree course joined forces with the internationally known 'Sleepwalk Collective' to bring about a one hour piece of theatre like nothing I have ever witnessed before. This specific course at Arden opens students up to a varying and wide range of performance styles, and has always encouraged them to push the boundaries of acceptability allowing the students to develop their own ideas and methodologies, erring on the side of non-conventional and what may be considered as more avant-garde theatre practises.

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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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