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First Tuesday current affairs discussion - Tuesday 5 December 7:00pm start

Tuesday 2nd Jan: First Tuesday Current Affairs discussion

We'll discuss two topical subjects

Theatre Reviews

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Manchester theatre reviews
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Manchester theatre reviews

Can We Talk About This?

Can We Talk About This? at The Lowry

Conceived and directed by Lloyd Newson

Reviewed by John Hutchinson May 2012

 

A very powerful piece of theatre was on display at The Lowry Centre in Salford, one that is an expression of our times and a direct challenge to our modern taboos and anxieties. This is not art that is imaginative, virtual, or creative, if by these terms we mean some form of fiction or installation that reframes or reshuffles our perceptions as many modern art exhibitions are intended to do.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Unhappy Birthday by Amy Lamé. Photo by Tom Sheehan

Unhappy Birthday by Amy Lamé

Tour performance viewed at Contact

Reviewed by Dave Porter  May 2012

 

Celebrity culture, or rather the cult of the celebrity, is hardly a new thing. People wanting to touch the hem of Jesus’ cloth is maybe the first known instance of how close we come to such adulation.

 

Nowadays, celebrities are simultaneously so much nearer and so much further aloof. It’s not so much about touching the hem of their cloth, but knowing someone who has touched the hem of the cloth. Or knowing their brother’s best friend who has.

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Maxine Peake as Miss Julie and Joe Armstrong as Jean in MISS JULIE. Photo by Jonathan Keenan

Miss Julie by August Strindberg

Royal Exchange, Manchester

Reviewed by Bill Hughes May 2012 

 

Sarah Frankcom, in directing Strindberg’s Miss Julie at the Royal Exchange, resists the impulse so often indulged by the company to take classic drama out of its context and make crass points on twenty-first-century issues. And, given Strindberg’s confrontation with class and feminism, this would have been easy to do.

 

Strindberg’s play was written in 1888, on the cusp of massive social change - class barriers were dissolving, religious certainties collapsing, the Woman Question was in the air (especially as voiced by Strindberg’s bête noir, the progressive Ibsen). The new form of naturalist drama and the formal experiments of Strindberg create a new drama appropriate for the age. This involved such techniques as doing away with act and scene divisions, for instance, having actors perform mundane tasks to ensure a continuous flow of dramatic action while significant events take place off stage.

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Henry V at Liverpool Playhouse

Henry V at Liverpool Playhouse

Reviewed by Emma Short April 2012

 

The Globe Theatre, who are currently touring the UK before their main season launches in early June on Bankside, have brought Shakespeare's Henry V to the Liverpool Playhouse. Framed by its famous proscenium arch the unfolding of England's victory over France at the battle of Agincourt under the direction of Dominic Dromgoole was a pleasure to witness indeed.

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Crossing Points at Liverpool Playhouse

Crossing Points at Liverpool Playhouse

Performed by Phoenix Dance Theatre

Reviewed by Jennifer Iddon March 2012

 

A good few years ago I undertook a Performing Arts course and on the whole embraced every aspect of the course except the dreaded movement class. I disliked the movement classes and if like at school there had of been a report at the end of the year I would have definitely been in the ‘must try harder’ category. I could not get the point of the classes, imagine the stereotype scenario of a movement class whilst reciting phases like ‘feel the space’ and ‘let your movements be organic’. You’re possibly getting the picture.

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Baglady at Royal Exchange

BAGLADY by Frank McGuinness

Studio Theatre, Royal Exchange. Starring Joan Kempson

Reviewed by Charlotte Starkey March 2012

 

Baglady was first performed at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 1985. In the introduction to the published version (Frank McGuinness: Plays, 1, published by Faber, 1996), Frank McGuinness acknowledges two inspirations for the play in Maurean Toal, an actress in the Abbey Theatre tradition of Dublin who has worked in many key works by Irish dramatists from that great tradition; and, secondly, the singer of traditional Irish folk music, Mairead Ni Domhnaill. I think this suggests the special quality of this dramatic monologue in the voice of one woman: the language is like the lullaby of a grieving, uprooted, surviving, longing, often angry soul:

Be careful where you walk these days. Everywhere’s dangerous. Full of corners you wouldn’t know what’s hiding behind. Lock your doors. Lock your windows at night always. Lock yourself up.

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Oedipussy at Liverpool Playhouse

Oedipussy at Liverpool Playhouse

Reviewed by Emma Short March 2012

 

Potent and provocative – one would expect nothing less when breathing fresh blood into one of the most famous tragedies of the early civilisations. The offbeat European quartet Spymonkey comprised of Stephen Kreiss, Toby Park, Aitor Basauri and Petra Massey, and their collaboration with Kneehigh's Director Emma Rice and writer Carl Grose have given Sophacles' Oedipus a literal rebirth through the medium of comedic farce and physical theatre. Teetering on the edge of the absurd as most tragedies do, the extra stride taken by this little performance throws Spymonkey head, breast and heels first into the depths of the conceptually uncanny.

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Young Everyman Playhouse

You Are Being Watched

at The Static Gallery, Liverpool

Reviewed by Denis Joe March 2012

 

The thought of sitting through a skit on James Bond, didn’t exactly fill me with joy. This production, created by Young Everyman Playhouse, drew on the Austin Powers films (I'm not a fan of Mr Myers), so when I saw James Bond and Moneypenny exchanging dialogue on the very basic stage, I was immediately hit by two things. Firstly the cast looked every bit the parts of a Bond film (though no actual cast list, just a list of names in the programme), and the actor playing Bond oozed suaveness and the banter between Bond and Moneypenny was excellent and extremely funny. Secondly, the humour was typically historical British: full of double entendres and sight gags.

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Derren Brown: Svengali

Derren Brown: Svengali at The Lowry

Reviewed by Georgina Kirk March 2012


In an age of scepticism, the immense popularity of psychological illusionist Derren Brown may appear to run counter to the Zeitgeist. Yet it’s actually his extraordinary skill at tuning into the beliefs and doubts of a spiritually confused nation that has brought him to his current position as one of Britain’s most acclaimed and revered entertainers.

 

Svengali, Derren’s fifth live stage show taken on national tour, is playing to packed houses for a full week (5th-10th March) in the large auditorium at Salford’s Lowry Theatre. And it’s returning, by popular demand, for two further shows in May. Despite the recent resurgence of interest in more mainstream magic, no conjuror would be able to fill theatres up and down the country night after night, month after month, the way Derren does.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Royal Exchange

Adapted for the stage and directed by Matthew Dunster, from the novel by Alan Sillitoe.

Reviewed by Jane Turner March 2012

 

“I’m me and nobody else; and whatever people think I am or say I am, that’s what I’m not, because they don’t know a bloody thing about me” so says Arthur Seaton, Alan Sillitoe’s hard-talking, hard-drinking and womanizing “angry young man”.

 

Sillitoe’s first-published and best-selling novel, written in 1958, has been adapted for the stage and brought back to ass-kicking life at one of my favourite venues, the remarkable Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, and by the award-winning Director Matthew Dunster, whose previous work includes Mogadishu and 1984 (both reviewed here on The Manchester Salon). With a high-profile cast that includes actors from Coronation Street, This is England and Downton Abbey, the lead role of Arthur Seaton is filled by Perry Fitzpatrick and the setting, as depicted so vividly by Sillitoe in the novel, remains true to 1950’s working class Nottingham.

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