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Theatre Reviews

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Manchester theatre reviews
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Manchester theatre reviews

Die Diana

Die Diana

Bandit, Mugger & Thief, Canal Street, Manchester

Reviewed by Stephen Bowler July 2016

 

Stephen M. Hornby’s new play about the life and death of Lady Diana projects a plethora of facts through a prism of fiction. The result is kaleidoscopic, as the colourful pieces of an undeniably spectacular existence fall into a new, even more fantastic order.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Ladykillers

The Ladykillers at Oldham Coliseum

by Graham Lineham

Reviewed by John Waterhouse June 2016

 

Alongside a fashion to turn hit films into musicals (such as ’Ghost’, ‘Elf’ and ‘The Producers’), there have in recent years been a growing number of classic films that have been turned into plays, with an emphasis on farce; the most notable example being ‘The Thirty Nine Steps’ and more recently, ‘Brief encounter’. When Graham Lineham decided to give this treatment to ‘The Ladykillers’, he was taking on not just a film with a very well-known plot but a movie famous for a stand-out performance by Alec Guinness (at the time of release in 1956, Britain’s leading comedy film actor), backed by a host comedy greats including Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom and Frankie Howerd.

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The Art of Success

The Art of Success at HOME

Produced by MMU School of Art

Reviewed by Stephen Bowler April 2016

 

William Hogarth (1697–1764), the celebrated engraver and painter best known for A Rake’s Progress (1735), is the subject of The Art of Success. Hogarth’s zest for the lusty, dusty, gin-soaked underbelly of London life was matched only by his ability to capture its moral content on canvas. This quest is the key to Nick Dear’s capacious, ambitious play, first performed in 1986 and now revived for a short run at HOME.

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Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour. Photo credit Manuel Harlan

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, Liverpool Playhouse

Co-produced by National Theatre of Scotland and Live Theatre

Reviewed by Jane Turner May 2016

 

Anyone in any doubt about the frailty of the female should spend some time with this smoking, swearing, drunken, noisy and energetic teenage girl choir - on a mischief packed coach trip from their school “Our Lady of Perpetual Succour” (nicknamed the Virgin Megastore) in a small Scottish coastal town to the big city of Edinburgh. Rejoice in their youthful efforts to have as much excitement as possible, which in keeping with teenagers temporarily freed from adult control, mostly involves gossiping, sex – “doing it” - and exaggerating its place in their lives.

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King Lear at Opera House

King Lear at Opera House

Reviewed by Stephen Bowler May 2016

 

A point of view is a ten minute slot on Sunday mornings on BBC Radio 4. A sort of secular homily, it is usually fresh and intelligent. This week, though, it was Will Self, who put the case for a transfer of wealth from baby-boomer parents to over-indebted off-spring. ‘Let's give it all away... the massive advances we've taken on any future commonwealth’, he said. King Lear does this. He gives it all away. It doesn't end well.

 

Quite why is open to debate. But the echo of Lear's folly on the radio last Sunday morning reminded me of the timeless universality of the meme that is Shakespeare. Whether we're conscious of it or not, the modern age is unthinkable without him. And if this is so in the main, it is even more to the fore in King Lear, where the darkness within all of us is illumined on the stage, the better for us to intuit the bounds of our own natures.

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32 rue Vandenbranden. Photo credit Herman Sorgeloos

32 rue Vandenbranden at Home

by Peeping Tom Productions

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall May 2016

 

Peeping Tom Productions have done it again. Despite the rather off-putting and foreign title to this piece of contemporary dance, physical theatre, and goodness knows what else thrown into the mix, they have proved once again that they really are the masters of Complicité. This very European style of theatre, still somehow strange and not fully understood or accepted in the UK yet, is being championed once again by HOME and its Artistic Director, Walter Meierjohann. Full credit to them for bringing the best of modern and forward-looking European theatre to our shores.

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Pygmalion

Pygmalion at Oldham Coliseum

by George Bernard Shaw

Reviewed by John Waterhouse and Charles Britten May 2016

 

There is a crafty genius about the works of George Bernard Shaw, but it takes acting of a high order to truly bring out the full flavour of the feast. The good news coming from Oldham Coliseum last Friday night (May 13th) was that the performance was compelling, relentlessly funny and joyfully irreverent.

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Twelfth Night at HOME

Twelfth Night at Home

Reviewed by Stephen Bowler May 2016

 

‘If music be the food of love, play on.’ Is there a better-known opening than this? Surely not. We all know the line but want nothing more than to hear it again. How refreshing, then, when expectancy is seized-upon and turned to advantage, as in Filter Theatre's new production, which started as it meant to go on by punctuating, amplifying and enlivening Shakespeare's text - from start to end - with a riot of wildly eclectic musicality.

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The Birthday Party

The Birthday Party at Oldham Coliseum

Produced by London Classic Theatre

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall May 2016

 

If there is one thing that is certain about a Pinter play, then that is uncertainty. Deliberately ambiguous, Pinter always leaves you, the audience, leaving the theatre with more questions than when you started. If you take the information given to you about each character on face value then you are likely to misunderstand and misinterpret everything anyway.

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Kiss Me Quickstep

Kiss Me Quickstep at Oldham Coliseum

Jointly produced with New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Reviewed by John Waterhouse and Charlie Britten April 2016

 

As with so many plays, ‘Kiss Me Quickstep’ has a tantalising title. It might suggest all manner of possibilities, yet in the end the play struggled to grasp them.

 

For a supposed comedy, the production had far too few laughs, and far too many scenes of laboured dialogue. Apart from a comment about the distinction between Lytham and Blackpool - one that played well with a Lancastrian audience - most of the good lines came in the second half of the play. It was only then, moreover, that a clear plot started to emerge, and real characters started to arise out of what had until then been a tepid meander with little apparent direction.

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