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Theatre Reviews

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Manchester theatre reviews
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Manchester theatre reviews

Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo

Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club

at The Liverpool Philharmonic

Reviewed by Jane Turner March 2011

Hola! Providing a poetic ray of sunshine on a grey and drizzly Wednesday evening in Liverpool, the vibrancy of this traditional Cuban music was a much-needed shot-in-the-arm for this particular latterly lethargic reviewer.

My thanks go out to The Liverpool Philharmonic Theatre for playing host to the Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club, featuring the amazing vocalist Omara Portuondo for one lively night only! On a day when there was much discussion in the news about Arts Council Funding cuts and the impact on Arts provision, the Liverpool Philharmonic announced a comprehensive programme from April – September that includes a savvy mix of classical, traditional and modern and also brings in some big names and local heroes including Rumer, Echo and The Bunnymen, Russell Watson, Madeleine Peyroux, The Soweto Gospel Choir, The Irish Sea Sessions and Jimmy Cliff. Also for this season a good selection of films, a series of jazz, roots and unplugged gigs, some family and variety shows and a full schedule of classical music from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. A very impressive programme given the huge cuts in funding and possibly one of the best programmes of any theatre in the country?

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Capstone

Capstone Theatre Weekly Community Series

Reviewed by Denis Joe March 2011


A lunchtime recital provided by year two music students from Livepool Hope University as part of the Capstone Theatre weekly community series.


Alison Jones opened the recital with the first two movements of Bach's Flute sonata No.4. The opening was done confidently and although there were a coupe of slip-ups at the presto, the performance was executed well.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Private Lives at The Royal Exchange Theatre

Directed by Michael Buffong

Reviewed by Anne Ryan March 2011

At times one wants to spend an evening in the theatre pondering the deepest truths of life, wrestling with contemporary problems or questioning one's beliefs – at other times it is preferable to pass a couple of hours in the company of attractive, witty, articulate people who entertain with a confection of bitingly amusing quips. For that go along to the Royal Exchange's revival of Noel Coward's 'Private Lives'.


From Michael Buffong, the director who brought us last season's award winning 'A Raisin in the Sun', this is another – although very different – modern classic.


A divorced couple Amanda (Imogen Stubbs) and Elyot (Simon Robson) accidentally find themselves honeymooning in the same hotel with their new spouses. Old passions are reignited and quarrels and chemistry abound.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Oedipus at Liverpool Playhouse

Oedipus at the Liverpool Playhouse  

Directed by Steven Berkoff

Reviewed by Denis Joe February 2011

You never quite know what to expect with Berkoff. His interests are so wide and he will ’sometimes’ cram as many variables into his work as he thinks he can get away with. This is not the first time that he has tackled Greek classics and it is not the first time he has used the myth of Oedipus. His play Greek, in 1982, borrowed from Sophocles´ play that was later made into an opera by Mark-Anthony Turnage.

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Manchester theatre reviews


Mogadishu at The Royal Exchange Theatre

Written by Vivienne Franzmann, directed by Matthew Dunster and designed by Tom Scutt.

Reviewed by Jane Turner January 2011

Manchester’s fantastic Royal Exchange Theatre brings its current season to a close with the world premiere of the Bruntwood prize-winning play MOGADISHU by Vivienne Franzmann. The play is called MOGADISHU says Franzmann "because this is a word that is synonymous with chaos" which is what this play depicts.


This new play, advertised as gripping and urgent was one of the four joint winners of the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting and went on to win this year’s prestigious George Devine Award for new writing. It is the first play by author Vivienne Franzmann a former East London secondary school teacher.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Justin Moorhouse as Zachariah Munning in ZACK. Photo by Jonathan Keenan

Zack at the Royal Exchange

Comedian, Justin Moorhouse plays Zack in Harold (Hobson's Choice) Brighouses' funny, charming and perceptive tale about the things that make life worth living and how love can flower in unexpected places.

Reviewed by Fat Roland December 2010

When cousin Virginia arrives at the Munnings' to recuperate from an illness in Harold Brighouse's play Zack, she walks into several contradictions.


The first contradiction is a family stuck in its ways of seeing, summed up by an early comment from the family's number one son Paul that “you can't fight a prejudice. It's like fighting air.” And yet it's that prejudice that keeps the family's strongest asset, the bumbling younger son Zack, under wraps.


The contrast of the two brothers is the engine of the piece. Paul is a starchy tower of controlled anger clad in a brown tie and brown waistcoat. It’s a risk having such a dislikeable character – his zest to get what he wants stretches incredulity to breaking point – but Pearce Quigley plays him with charisma and knowing wit. Think Steve Coogan's cocky character Paul Calf transported back to 1910.

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