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Theatre Reviews

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Manchester theatre reviews
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Manchester theatre reviews

New Dawn Fades

at The Dancehouse Theatre

written by Brian Gorman, directed by Emma Bird

Reviewed by John Waterhouse April 2018

 

New Dawn Fades is a play about four young men who decide to form a music group; it is a play about a city re-discovering an identity; it is a play about a descent into mental illness during ever growing success; it is a play about a very particular period of time.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Little Mermaid

at The Lowry

Adapted from the Hans Christian Andersen story by Poppy Burton-Morgan with music by Matt Devereaux

Reviewed by John Waterhouse April 2018

 

Every once in a while, someone claims to have created a new genre, which is normally code for saying it is really a pastiche of something else. With The Little Mermaid, it looks like Metta Theatre Company have actually succeeded in doing just this by bringing together gymnastics, tricks, dance, actor/musicianship and singing to create what is truly a circus musical. The Little Mermaid is a joy to watch with seamless, non-stop action blending with a highly creative original music score and spirited singing and acting.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Birdsong at Lowry

Birdsong at The Lowry

Reviewed byJane Turner April 2018

Written by Rachel Wagstaff to mark the 100-year anniversary of the end of the first world war when at least 10 million people (many underage) lost their lives. The popular 400-page Sebastian Faulks novel that covers three different time periods, has been turned into a play of just over two hours. Even though some of the story has been omitted and it remains sympathetic to the spirit of the novel, I must confess that at times it felt almost as long as the war itself. The brutal reality of the trenches and tunnels and the needless horror of the bloody battlefields of France are well depicted and combined with scenes from an earlier peacetime and a love story at the heart of this tale.

It is an emotional and gripping production that begins in 1916, before the Battle of the Somme. The hopelessness, waste and insanity is captured onstage, and the audience are immersed in the horror and devastation of warfare and its inescapable misery and terror by a creative evocation of the sombre and explosive soundscape, graphic lighting displays and what must have been a flesh rotting and gas ridden stench. Several sudden loud explosions rocked the theatre and had the audience jumping out of their seats.

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Manchester theatre reviews


Grumpy Old WomenGrumpy Old Women

at Lowry

Reviewed by Jane Turner, April 2018

 

Starring Jenny Eclair, Dilly Keane and Lizzie Roper

Between 2010 and 2050, the global population of over-65s is expected to treble from 530 million to 1.5 billion, and within the next 10 years, for the first time ever, over-65s will outnumber under-fives. The population is about to get a lot older, and if caricatures of old people are to be believed, and this play is full of them, the world is about to get a hell of a lot grumpier.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Art at The Lowry

By Yasmina Reza

Reviewed by John Waterhouse March 2018

Art has apparently grossed an astonishing 200M since its debut in 1996, propelling French playwright Yasmina Reza into the premier league of international playwrights and being translated into a host of languages.

There is a parallel to Waiting for Godot (itself having been first performed in French) in that at first glance, all we see are two or three men talking and arguing and seemingly getting nowhere but as with Beckets masterpiece, there is considerable depth to Art which leaves the audience pondering its meanings long after watching the show. This is also a play which breaks modern conventions with frequent soliloquies and occasional long speeches.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Education Education Education at Lowry

Education Education Education at The Lowry

Reviewed byJane Turner March 2018

Tony Blair is remembered for many things and blamed for everything from Iraq to the destruction of Old Labour. Educationalists remember him for his apparent focus on education embodied in his proclamation that Labours top priority was, is and always will be education, education, education, and this mantra is at the heart of this fast paced and entertaining comedy.

Feverishly performed by the Wardrobe Ensemble in the top-notch setting of the Lowrys Quay Theatre, this is set in the anarchic Wordsworth comprehensive school on the day after the 1997 Labour landslide. The election result proclaimed that things would only get better, and the play asks questions about what we are taught and who is to blame for the current state of the education system. It is a reminder of how the Blair government, despite over a decade of major investment, failed to deliver on its promise of an education utopia.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Dancing Bear

Miss Saigon at Palace Theatre

Producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh

Composer Claude-Michel Schnberg and lyricist Alain Boublil

Reviewed byKatie Leicester March 2018


Miss Saigon is my absolute favourite musical so writing this review is probably the hardest but the most exciting opportunity so far as a critic. I first saw the production at The Theatre Royal on Drury Lane in 1989, intrigued and enchanted by Cameron Mackintoshs works I naively watched Miss Saigon with the cast of Lea Salonga as Kim, Simon Bowman as Chris and Jonathan Price as the Engineer not realising then that this musical would capture my heart for ever more.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Fat Friends

Fat Friends

at Opera House, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall March 2018

This is writer / director Kay Mellor's foray into Musical Theatre after her hit comedy TV series of the same name. The show opens with lycra and spandex clad overweight bodies bumping and gyrating at a Zumba class at the local church. The year is the present, not a flashback to the 80s, and so this is an instant fail, and sadly the show never recovers.

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Manchester theatre reviews

East is East at Octagon Theatre, Bolton

Directed by Ben Occhipinti

Reviewed by Johanna Hassouna-Smith, March 2018

Ayub Khan Din's play, East is East, is a comedy about an Anglo-Pakistani family living in Salford in the 1970s. Produced in the mid-1990s, the play was one of the first mainstream theatre productions to deal with Asian culture. The 1999 film adaptation garnered critical acclaim and became one of the most successful British films of all time.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Dinner Party

by Neil Simon

at Altrincham Little Theatre

Reviewed by John Waterhouse March 2018

The Dinner Party is a genuinely intriguing play partly because the premise is a very imaginative twist on an old stalwart. A standard Agatha Christie device (a la The Mousetrap and Ten Little Indians) finds a random group of essentially middle class individuals all invited to a party by an unseen host and old dirty secrets are gradually unfolded. Interestingly, the playwright Neil Simon farced this idea in his screenplay for the film Murder by Death.

With The Dinner Party there is no murder mystery; no under-cover murderer or detective masquerades as a guest and no crime has been committed. This does not mean however that the secrets to be unfolded are not of an excruciating nature and that some surprising interpersonal relationships are revealed, making this a complex play which leaves the audience thinking.

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