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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

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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Manchester theatre reviews

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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Manchester theatre reviews

The Daughter-in-Law by DH Lawrence

The Daughter-in-Law by DH Lawrence

Performed at The Lowry, directed by Chris Honer

Reviewed by Charlotte Starkey February 2012

 

D. H. Lawrence completed his play The Daughter-in-Law in 1913, the same year in which he published Sons and Lovers, and one year after the miners’ strike which had split the mining workforce in the Nottinghamshire coalfields, particularly in the Eastwood Colliery (Lawrence was born in Eastwood).

 

The play was never performed whilst he was alive, only opening in 1967 at The Royal Court. Before then he had written A Collier’s Friday Night (1906), containing some of the ingredients of Lawrence’s continuing concerns as a writer: a struggling mining family whose main wage-earner drinks, is despised, and against whom the rest of the family struggle to find some sense of identity and purpose.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Lion King Press Launch. Photo by Sara Porter.

The Lion King Musical UK Tour Press Launch

at The Comedy Store, Deansgate

Reviewed by Sara Porter February 2012


There can be few people who have not at least come across the story of Simba who is driven into exile after the death of his father and his epic journey to then become the King of the Pridelands. Originally an animated Disney cartoon, the multi-award winning musical first opened at Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre in 1997, reaching London in 1999 where it has played to packed audiences ever since. In September 2012, The Lion King begins it’s first ever UK tour, making it’s way to Manchester for an 18 week run at The Palace Theatre from December 6th.

 

As Manchester will be the home of the tour for it’s longest run, it was also chosen to be the location for its press launch. The Comedy Store at Deansgate Locks provided an ideal, intimate setting for the launch. A simple set was all that was needed with the now iconic, The Lion King logo projected onto a screen central to the stage and either side of the stage sat the masks for Mufasa and Scar.

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Manchester theatre reviews

A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire

A Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Production

Reviewed by Jane Turner February 2012

Kicking off its 2012 season with the Tennessee Williams’ classic A Streetcar Named Desire, the Liverpool Playhouse brilliantly re-create the hustle, bustle, whirl and wonder of New Orleans City. The street sounds and soul are brought to mesmerizing life in this historic and intimate Liverpool theatre by a superb Peter Coyte arrangement.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Oliver! Photos by Alastair Muir

Oliver! Palace Theatre, Manchester

Book, music and lyrics by Lionel Bart: Freely adapted from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist

Reviewed by Helen Nugent February 2012


In a year when the world is awash with adaptations and celebrations of Charles Dickens’ work, a revival of Lionel Bart’s musical version of Oliver Twist could be considered Dickensian overkill. Does the public need another depiction of the great writer’s Victorian underworld during the 200th anniversary of his birth?

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Manchester theatre reviews

An Inspector Calls at The Lowry

An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestley

Performed at The Lowry, directed by Stephen Daldry

Reviewed by Charlotte Starkey February 2012

 

An Inspector Calls has been a perennial favourite of the English syllabus in schools and still remains so. Comments by groups of school parties after the performance at The Lowry ranged from ‘Wow!’ and ‘Brill!’ to the more controlled ‘An amazing evening!’ and ‘Really enjoyable’.

 

As I arrived coaches were departing for, and arriving from, different parts of the North West and beyond. What seemed like an army of young GCSE students was leaving the earlier matinée performance, pouring down the stairs like the hordes of Hannibal’s army over the Alps, but thankfully more triumphant and peaceful, milling around in excited chatter, lingering in the foyer or leaving; and then another invading army of young theatre-goers approached, sweeping up the stairs like a surging wave to pack the theatre for the evening performance.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Two by Jim Cartwright

Two by Jim Cartwright

Performed at Royal Exchange, directed by Greg Hersov, designed by Amanda Stoodley

Reviewed by Emma Short January 2012

 

With an emphasis on the tentative balance of self and other within a relationship, Jim Cartwright's Two takes us on a journey through the most intimate insights and fluctuations within couple dynamics. The secrets shared at the bar over a pint are captured in all their innocence, arrogance and transparency evoking a sublime pathos that grips the breath.

 

Justin Moorhouse and Victoria Elliott play all 14 of Cartwright's characters with tremendous versatility, flair and imagination. The range is astounding, from small boy, to bullying boyfriend, chipper landlord and wistful old man to mirror the portrayal of the scorned other woman, ground down elderly carer, brow beaten girlfriend to over excitable Maudie.

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Sarah Ridgeway as Alice and Christopher Benjamin as Martin Vanderhof. Photo by Jonathan Keenan

You Can't Take It With You

by George S Kaufman and Moss Hart, performed at Royal Exchange Theatre, with Told by an Idiot, directed by Paul Hunter, and designed by Laura Hopkins

Reviewed by Helen Nugent December 2011


You know you’re in for something a little bit different when the only character on stage at the beginning of a play is a tortoise. In a spotlight. A tortoise in a spotlight. Yes this, as Mancunians would have it, was going to be proper different.


The omens were good from the start. The largest theatre in the round in Britain housed in what was once the largest room for commerce in the world; the Royal Exchange’s Christmas show, rarely, if ever, a let-down; and a collaboration with Told by an Idiot, a company renowned for fusing comedy with tragedy, theatricality with nuance.

 

And the choice of show? A production written by the celebrated comedy writing double act, George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart who, when they created YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU, engendered a Broadway hit, a Pulitzer Prize-winning play and an Oscar-laden film. And, more than 70 years after its first season, it was still drawing the crowds on a windswept winter evening in Manchester.

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