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Theatre Reviews

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Manchester theatre reviews
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Manchester theatre reviews

All the Way Home

All the Way Home by Ayub Khan-Din

Presented by Library Theatre in association with The Lowry, directed by Mark Babych

Reviewed by Jane Turner October 2011

 

Award-winning playwright Ayub Khan-Din has returned to his native Salford for the world premiere of his new play All The Way Home, performed by the highly respected Library Theatre Company opening their new season in association with The Lowry.

 

Billed as a contemporary and emotional comedy-drama set in Salford that details the life of a family as they unite to face the death of their brother from cancer, it is directed by Mark Babych who has assembled a team of excellent actors from the local area. Familiar faces include, from Coronation Street, Judith Barker, Paul Simpson, Kate Anthony, Sean Gallagher and Naomi Radcliffe while actors Susan Cookson, Julie Riley and James Foster will be known to regular theatre-goers.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Thrasher by Conor McKee

Thrasher by Conor McKee

Performed at Royal Exchange Studio, directed by Wyllie Longmore

Reviewed by Emma Short October 2011

 

Conor McKee's latest production Thrasher is a potent mix of the failings and warmth of people which explores themes of faith, identity, values and responsibility. Amid the chaos that emerges through the play it knits together a rich fast paced story that both warms and disgusts. Sprinkled throughout with dark humour it captivates and entertains, taking one on a journey both familiar and uncertain.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Look Back in Anger

Look Back in Anger by John Osborne

Presented by Blackhand Productions

Reviewed by Helen Nugent September 2011


A young actor puffing thoughtfully on a pipe during the opening scene of a play usually means one of two things: a production modelled on the revue style of the ubiquitous Cambridge Footlights or a period piece that sits awkwardly in the 21st Century. Mercifully, last night’s performance of Look Back in Anger didn’t succumb to either of these two possibilities.


Thanks to the combined talents of Manchester-based Blackhand Productions, the incongruity of a 20-something youth sucking on a pipe never threatened to descend into cliche. Nevertheless, it must be daunting to take on John Osborne’s ground-breaking masterpiece. Tempting, too, to place the original kitchen-sink drama in its rightful era of the post-war, post-empire 1950s. But this edited version of the controversial classic rooted its harsh and filthy realism very much in the present. Osborne wrote his bitter polemic more than half a century ago, but director Helen Parry’s production felt like a play for today.

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One Man, Two Guvnors

One Man, Two Guvnors

by National Theatre at Cornerhouse

Reviewed by Anne Ryan September 2011

 

The reviews promised one of the summer's funniest plays, 'Carlo Goldoni meets Harold Pinter in a riotous farce set to skiffle', and as summer slips away I think that's what we got.

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Samuel Collings (left) as Piers Gaveston and Chris New as King Edward II. Photo by Jonathan Keenan.

Edward II by Christopher Marlowe

Performed at Royal Exchange Theatre, directed by Toby Frow and designed by Ben Stones

Reviewed by Charlotte Starkey September 2011

 

Five weeks after the murder of Christopher Marlowe, on the evening of 30th May 1593 in Deptford, the text of Edward II was entered in the Stationer’s Register, as required by law, and it has been argued that the play itself was in existence as early as 1591 – a date recently argued for some of Shakespeare’s English history plays, too. Marlowe dramatizes the brief reign and downfall of a monarch whose dates (1284 – 1327) mark a fractious period in England with nobles excluded from power and decision-making, a weak king reliant upon favourites, civil war and a wife, Isabella, participating in the plot against her husband. Material like this was the stuff of playwrights such as Shakespeare and would continue to be so in Shakespeare’s ‘Henriad’ (Henry IV, Part One and Two, and Henry V), Richard II (so close in theme and structure to Edward II) and Richard III.

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Entitled

Entitled: A piece of work in a theatre by Quarantine

at The Studio, Royal Exchange Theatre

Directed by Richard Gregory, designed by Simon Banham, text by Sonia Hughes

Reviewed by Simon Belt July 2011


Quarantine describe themselves as having developed a reputation for working with 'real people' as opposed to actors on stage portraying fictional characters. There's a feeling from that self-promotion that Quarantine's scripts give their characters a more grounded, grittier depth. The pitch for Entitled by its Director, Richard Gregory, states that he 'wanted to explore some of the real stories of its performers - somehow turning theatre inside out'.

 

Abracadabra, and the pockets of the Royal Exchange's audience were turned inside out by some highly skilled and adept performers with some super technique. Was it that I just didn't get it or maybe aren't quite sophisticated enough for the highbrow irony and double bluff of Quarantine? Maybe, happy to hold my hands up to that, but you know, where's the benefit to society in treating audiences with utter contempt just so a performer can feel clever? 

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