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Theatre Reviews

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Manchester theatre reviews
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Manchester theatre reviews

Mother Courage and Her Children

Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht

Produced by The Library Theatre at The Lowry

To be reviewed by Dave Porter February 2013

 
Translated by Tony Kushner, Directed by Chris Honer, and Music by Greg Palmer.


Bertolt Brecht’s stirring Mother Courage and Her Children opens the 2013 season of productions from Manchester’s Library Theatre Company, at The Lowry in Salford on Friday 22 February 2013.

 

The version of Brecht’s classic script the Library is presenting has been translated by Tony Kushner. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Lincoln, he is best known in theatrical circles for his 1993 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, which the Library Theatre Company presented in 1999.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Arabian Nights

Arabian Nights by Library Theatre

Adapted by Dominic Cooke, Directed by Amy Leach

Reviewed by Jane Turner December 2012

 

Once upon a time, in Austerity Britain towards the end of a rather tough year, in a forgotten land called Salford far, far away in the North-West of England, there stood at the water’s edge, an imposing steel-clad theatre built at great cost when “times were better”. One cold and wintry December day, with frost on the ground and gloom in the air as a triple-dip recession was looming, hundreds of people gathered outside the doors of this mighty theatre, ready to escape from the cold and the news, for a few hours at least, and eager to be entertained in a warmer climate.

 

Suddenly, a tall, dark man in a red hat appeared in front of the great big shiny doors and shouted “Open Sesame”, and the people gazed in awe, as the steely theatre opened its doors and ushered them in to the cavernous theatre and safe from the cold, cold icy fingers of the chilly climate. From the bleak and grey Salford streets, they scuttled inwards to take up their seats ready to be transported to warmer and more fruitful shores. All cosy, within the tented walls of an Arabian souk, they marvelled at the electrifying scenes before them.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Asylum of Grace

Asylum of Grace by Neil Ely

Directed by Lloyd Eyre-Morgan, at Three Minute Theatre

Reviewed by Simon Belt December 2012

 

Asylum of Grace is a psychological drama set in the early 1980s, where free spirited Amber (Sian Hill) from Manchester becomes pregnant after copping off with local lad Sean (Joseph Michael Watts) whilst she was working as a waitress in Eastbourne for the summer season. Amber is Catholic so rules out abortion as a viable solution to her predicament, so Sean's ever present and controlling mum Ruth (Janet Bamford) steps up to extend her influence over her wayward son by paying for the ill-fated couple to get married. To complicate matters further, the new lodger in a room downstairs from Amber and Sean's in Ruth's house, Michael (Rob Ward) helps keep the free spirit of independence alive in Amber. This roller coaster of emotional tension is set for a bumpy ride.  

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Manchester theatre reviews

Runaway Shadows

Runaway Shadows at Contact

based on a story by Lyman Frank Baum and directed by Nick Clarke

Produced by Contact Young Actors Company and Fink On Theatre 

Reviewed by Julia Taylor  December 2012

 

On the night I saw Runaway Shadows at the Contact Theatre, Manchester it was an accessible performance for deaf people with an interpreter using British Sign Language. I wondered if this might distract hearing people from the performance but I’m glad to say that after the first few minutes we didn’t notice her and she must have been a boon to those who can’t hear.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Simba played by Nicholas Nkuna

The Lion King

at The Palace Theatre

Reviewed by Sara Porter December 2012

 

It’s nearly twenty years since the story of Simba the lion cub of Disney’s animated story The Lion King, first graced our screens. Simba’s story from eager young lion cub who “Just Can’t Wait To Be King” and is driven into exile having been convinced by his wicked uncle Scar that he is responsible for the death of his father.

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A Government Inspector

A Government Inspector

A Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Production

Reviewed by Jane Turner November 2012

 

Eeeh by gum! A contemporary and “daft as a brush” northern adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s Revizor, jam-packed with northern caricatures and northern “blethering” with lots of “faffin’” and the quintessential oomph of a brass band. Crackin’!

 

Adapted by Deborah McAndrew and directed by Conrad Nelson this fantastic farce was performed by a versatile and talented team of twelve Northern Broadside actors. This classic Russian script has been transposed across time and space from a remote Russian village to a modern-day provincial Pennine town. It works well in its new setting because in essence it is about corruption, which as anyone knows is translatable into any language, any history, any culture and right into the present day. The new setting – “so remote that even the residents don’t know whether they are in Lancashire or Yorkshire” – could be where you or I live.

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The Loneliness of the Long Distance RunnerThe Loneliness of The Long Distance Runner

A Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Production

Reviewed by Jane Turner November 2012

 

“You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power – he’s free again”. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

 

In Alan Sillitoe’s classic story of freedom, Colin Smith the protagonist is a free man by this definition and chooses to make his own history but not in conditions of his own choosing. In doing so, he exercises his free will and demonstrates his resilience and determination.

 

Elliott Barnes-Worrell as Colin Smith certainly goes the distance and delivers an adrenaline rush in more ways than one, in this compelling and brave adaptation in a contemporary setting, of an Alan Sillitoe classic. The adaptation is by BAFTA winning and Olivier Award nominated playwright Roy Williams OBE (Sucker Punch, Fallout, Sing Yer Heart Out For The Lads).

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Manchester theatre reviews

Orpheus Descending at Royal Exchange

Orpheus Descending

Royal Exchange, Manchester

Reviewed by Dave Porter October 2012 

 

Gore Vidal’s nickname for Tennessee Williams was ‘the Bird’ because so many of his plays were based around the idea of flight: characters in flight from reality or each other.

 

In Orpheus Descending, which receives a sumptuous revival at Manchester’s Royal Exchange, the motif is a central and recurring one. When handsome drifter Valentine Xavier wanders into a Deep South merchandise store he tells the owner – Lady – of a mythical bird which never sets foot on earth and sleeps on the wing.

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Treasured by Ailís Ní Ríain

Treasured by Ailís Ní Ríain

Directed and created by Jen Heyes, designed by Olivia du Monceau, performed at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral

Reviewed by Denis Joe October 2012

 

There is something fitting in setting a story about the Titanic in the Anglican Cathedral: both can be seen as monumental constructions dating from periods in which the human visionary was firmly in the ascendant. The Sea Odyssey was certainly one of the most spectacular events in Liverpool this year, but Treasured turned out to surpass even that.

 

We entered the main entrance of the Cathedral, walking around piles of luggage, seeing people sitting around the luggage, reading or engaged in some other sedentary occupation. We were taken through semi-darkness, accompanied by a solo trumpet playing a tune that was neither mournful nor triumphant, into the main section of the cathedral, where we took our seats.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Heretic

The Heretic by Richard Bean

Produced by The Library Theatre at The Lowry

Reviewed by Helen Nugent October 2012


A trip to a production by the Library Theatre is like a visit to the Donmar Warehouse in London: odds are you will have a thought-provoking and hugely entertaining evening. And so it was last night at a performance of ‘The Heretic’ at The Lowry.

 

Boy, Richard Bean really does know how to write great parts for actors. Anyone in any doubt of this should go and see ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’, his award-winning adaptation of a 1743 Commedia dell’arte comedy by Carlo Goldoni. Or, for that matter, ‘The Heretic’ for which Bean relies solely on his own imagination.

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