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Theatre Reviews

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Manchester theatre reviews
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Manchester theatre reviews

Mother Goose

Mother Goose

at Oldham Coliseum Theatre

Reviewed by John Waterhouse November 2015

 

Having decided which of the stalwart panto themes they wanted to produce, Oldham Coliseum had the task of ensuring that audiences would be guaranteed a fine time. The logical step was to engage Fine Time Fontayne to both co-write and star in ‘Mother Goose’. With twenty previous pantomimes already penned, Fine Time clearly knows a thing or two about turning a wafer-thin plot, with a bevy of even thinner characters, into two hours of non-stop, entertaining slick entertainment.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Humpty's Bones

Humpty’s Bones’ by Sean Mason

(based on the novella by Simon Clark)

at The Seven Oaks Pub, Manchester

Reviewed by John Waterhouse October 2015

‘Humpty’s Bones’ started as a novella by Yorkshire writer Simon Clark and has been developed for the stage by Sean Mason, with the approving blessing of the author, having been first performed two years ago.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Hot Stuff

Hot Stuff’ at Oldham Coliseum Theatre

Reviewed by John Waterhouse September 2015

 

This re-working of the story of Faust is essentially a dynamic comedy musical, steeped in popular, mainly 1970’s songs, following the story of Joe, a non-achiever who is offered a chance to sell his soul to the devil in return for winning a TV talent contest. If you are prone to allergic reactions to all aspects of 70’s disco, punk and glam rock, this probably will not be your kind of show but ‘Hot Stuff’ is a lot more than just Faust in platforms and glitter, never slacking in pace over two hours of good, solid, fun entertainment; a totally professional cast and band give their all, with great performances all round.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Together in Electric Dreams

Together in Electric Dreams in Buxton Festival Fringe

At The Paupers’ Pit, in The Underground Venues

Reviewed by John Waterhouse July 2015

 

This play had the interesting premise of two, well-known industrialists, each of whom in their own way, was at the top of the British electronics industry and having a high public profile. In terms of personal temperament and style, they were as different as say James Hunt and Nikki Lauda or Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe.

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Game of Souls

Game of Souls by John Waterhouse

At The Dancehouse Theatre, Manchester

Reviewed by Simon Belt June 2015

 

Game of Souls started its life entitled 'Chess Pieces' which I saw at Salford Arts Theatre back in 2013 with its own troupe of dancers embedded for dramatic effect. This refined production was leaner and sharper than its earlier outing and shows that Arts Council funding doesn't always mean a pampering of productions that should otherwise fall by the wayside. John Waterhouse has made good use of the support he's received to take the play further and get a much better performance out of the script as a consequence. The tagline says it's a comedy with music, but it felt very much like a morality play about our own capacity to be autonomous and purposeful in the face of hidden manipulations by forces seemingly beyond our control.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time at The Lowry

by The National Theatre

Reviewed by Paul Thompson January 2015

 

The divine guru of yarn-spinning Robert McKee once described how screenwriters, given the task of adapting a much-loved novel, often finish the book, toss it tetchily to one side, and complain that the story is “all in his head”.

 

It's not a huge stretch to imagine this brand of frustration kicking in a good decade ago – when Warner Brothers (specifically Brad Pitt) optioned the rights to Mark Haddon's award-winning, off-beat detective tale The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time (at The Lowry till January 10th 2015). It's thought a movie is still planned, but it's been a long time coming. And the problems of adapting such writing to a more visual medium are clear.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Peter Pan Goes Wrong at The Lowry

Peter Pan Goes Wrong at The Lowry

by Mischief Theatre Company

Reviewed by Paul Thompson December 2014

 

We're waiting for it to start. Sporting a crew t-shirt and headlamp, a backstage type shoots me eye contact and makes a beeline for my seat. I'm convinced I'm to be reprimanded for taking up too much space with my personal effects – but no. The young actor hired to play Michael Darling is unable to perform, and I'm invited to take the role. “It's just a few lines,” I'm reassured.

 

Have you guessed what's going on yet? If so, good for you. I fall for it hook, line and sinker. I politely decline on the rather flimsy basis that I'm here to review, implying that being a part of it would constitute a conflict of interests. The epiphany that I've been ensnared in pre-show ad-lib arrives later.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Twelve Nights

Twelve Nights or WTF? at Three Minute Theatre

By Manchester Shakespeare Company

Reviewed by Paul Thompson December 2014

 

Two characters are leafing through DVDs, deciding which movie to watch. “Ten Things I Hate About You,” suggests one of them.

 

“Nah”, dismisses the other. “It's based on Shakespeare. It's bound to be shit.”

 

And if the prolific, nodding-and-winking in-jokes of the night are plays by The Bard, that zinger is King Lear. It's a taste of the sort of snappy and uncomplicated gag on offer for anyone who, like me, has no idea what to expect from Twelve Nights (or WTF) – by Three Minute Theatre's in-house team Manchester Shakespeare Company. They've given birth to a knockabout latter-day spin on Twelfth Night (or What You Will) by Stratford-Upon-Avon's most famous offspring. A farcical, panto-flavoured spoof reimagines the tale in FUK – the former United Kingdom – where UKIP are all-powerful, and zero immigration prevails.

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Manchester theatre reviews

My Baby Girl

My Baby Girl

By Jane The Foole Theatre Company

Reviewed by Paul Thompson December 2014

 

It's always a pleasure to witness the spirit of new writing doffing its cap to the classics. Much of what the creative cubs are trying out on the boards owes a disproportionate debt to cinema – multiple locations, sub-plots; and snappy scenes bouncing through time like a pre-illness Stephen Hawking on a space hopper. All well and good if you have the luxury of an editing suite, but overwhelming for an auditorium burdened by transition overload.

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Manchester theatre reviews

John and Mark

John and Mark

By Northern Outlet Theatre Company

Reviewed by Paul Thompson November 2014

 

Tantrums and stonewalling have been a couple of responses to George Gunby's John And Mark on the other side of the M62 – and it is this that occupies my mind as I lounge amid the eclectic seating and woozy light of the basement space in Canal Street's Taurus Bar.

 

For over there – in the city where it all started – an argument goes something like this: Lennon assassin Mark Chapman wanted to steal his victim's fame; and any work of art that features the potty pistol wielder as a main character is pandering to that very desire for infamy. At a glance, it's a specious – even seductive – jerk of the knee; but it doesn't take much twisting of the lens to capture the immaturity and farce of this thought process.

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