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Theatre Reviews

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Manchester theatre reviews
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Manchester theatre reviews

David Copperfield at Oldham Coliseum

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Adapted by Alastair Cording, Directed by Kevin Shaw, at Oldham Coliseum

Reviewed by Simon Belt and Yvonne Cawley February 2013

 

This was our first visit to the Oldham Coliseum, despite it being in the back of our mind to go sometime - and what a delightful experience it was! From the convivial and relaxed welcoming reception of box office, ushers and bar staff to the familiar faces from the northern soaps sat next to us in the bar chatting freely with those around. No pretence and a down to earth directness you expect in Oldham, and just being part of an extended family of theatre goers and doers. The brochure references supporters and volunteers and this really does permeate the mood around the foyer and bar.

 

Notably spacious, the auditorium has really comfy seating, with plenty of leg-room and something also commented on by the people behind us (in the stalls). It transpires that they were installed last year which just adds to the experience, and even just a few rows from the stage we didn’t have to crane our necks to look at the stage as is sometimes the case in theatres. The acoustics were great too - just there when they were needed without ever thinking about them, indicating some elegant delivery which doesn't distract from the focus of the stage.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Accrington Pals

THE ACCRINGTON PALS By Peter Whelan

Performed at Royal Exchange, Directed by James DacreDesigned by Jonathan Fensom

Reviewed by Emma Short January 2013

 

Using the fond template and rich underpinnings of northern childhood memories Peter Whelan brings to life the stories of the men and women of Accrington during the push for volunteer recruits for the Somme offensives during World War I. Like many northern communities at the time, such as in Liverpool and Sheffield, it saw its young men go off to fight in Kitchener's Army, side by side with their pals to fight for King and Country, patriotic and motivated to do the right thing.

 

The first major action of the battalion known as the Accrington Pals, the attack on Serre on 1st July 1916, saw them suffer devastating losses, culminating in the deaths of almost a whole generation of young men that never returned. Out of around 720 of the Accrington Pals that enrolled 583 were killed, missing or wounded. The play brings to life the reality of these events and those leading up to them. It also follows the stories of the women of Accrington in their supporting roles, their newfound work roles, how they adjusted, and their desperate struggle to find out about their fighting men.

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Manchester theatre reviews

M by Vertigo Theatre

'M' by Craig Hepworth and Adele Stanhope

Produced by Vertigo, Performed at Three Minute Theatre

Reviewed by Yvonne Cawley January 2013

 

It is always a pleasure to return to Manchester’s Three Minute Theatre, with its welcoming and intimate atmosphere – just like going home and getting comfy in your favourite armchair waiting for the main feature to start on telly. Only, a trip to 3MT is an experience that you can never achieve (or only dream about) on your 3D HD TV, as with M by Vertigo is a real, in your face action and drama drawing you in and making you part of the whole event.

 

The play ‘M’ by Craig Hepworth and Adele Stanhope, billed as ‘a homage to trashy thrillers of the 90s from Cruel Intentions to Basic Instincts plus tipping its hat to the old stage thrillers’ was a treat for sure. What I was expecting from the promotional blurb was a kind of slap stick, tongue in cheek and funny plot with a storyline basically made up from snippets of various old movies. What I actually witnessed was an extremely sleek and beautifully ‘executed’ production with wonderfully worked plots (and oh yes we were treated to a whole host of these).

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Bubbler

The Bubbler by Cathy Crabb in re:play Festival

Produced by The Library Theatre at The Lowry

Reviewed by Helen Nugent January 2013

 

Boss, mint, proper good, there aren’t enough Manc adjectives in the world to describe the wonderfulness of Cathy Crabb’s The Bubbler. This is the kind of play you want to tell your mates about.

 

The Bubbler first opened at The Kings Arms in Salford last year. Thanks to the re:play Festival, a showcase of the best of Manchester’s fringe now in its sixth year, there is another chance to see it. The two cast members have reunited for this run, staged by House of Orphans and Eat Theatre in one of The Lowry’s bars. As site-specific shows go, it doesn’t get any better: the play is set in a pub.

 

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Manchester theatre reviews

Mother Courage and Her Children

Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht

Produced by The Library Theatre at The Lowry

To be reviewed by Dave Porter February 2013

 
Translated by Tony Kushner, Directed by Chris Honer, and Music by Greg Palmer.


Bertolt Brecht’s stirring Mother Courage and Her Children opens the 2013 season of productions from Manchester’s Library Theatre Company, at The Lowry in Salford on Friday 22 February 2013.

 

The version of Brecht’s classic script the Library is presenting has been translated by Tony Kushner. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Lincoln, he is best known in theatrical circles for his 1993 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, which the Library Theatre Company presented in 1999.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Arabian Nights

Arabian Nights by Library Theatre

Adapted by Dominic Cooke, Directed by Amy Leach

Reviewed by Jane Turner December 2012

 

Once upon a time, in Austerity Britain towards the end of a rather tough year, in a forgotten land called Salford far, far away in the North-West of England, there stood at the water’s edge, an imposing steel-clad theatre built at great cost when “times were better”. One cold and wintry December day, with frost on the ground and gloom in the air as a triple-dip recession was looming, hundreds of people gathered outside the doors of this mighty theatre, ready to escape from the cold and the news, for a few hours at least, and eager to be entertained in a warmer climate.

 

Suddenly, a tall, dark man in a red hat appeared in front of the great big shiny doors and shouted “Open Sesame”, and the people gazed in awe, as the steely theatre opened its doors and ushered them in to the cavernous theatre and safe from the cold, cold icy fingers of the chilly climate. From the bleak and grey Salford streets, they scuttled inwards to take up their seats ready to be transported to warmer and more fruitful shores. All cosy, within the tented walls of an Arabian souk, they marvelled at the electrifying scenes before them.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Asylum of Grace

Asylum of Grace by Neil Ely

Directed by Lloyd Eyre-Morgan, at Three Minute Theatre

Reviewed by Simon Belt December 2012

 

Asylum of Grace is a psychological drama set in the early 1980s, where free spirited Amber (Sian Hill) from Manchester becomes pregnant after copping off with local lad Sean (Joseph Michael Watts) whilst she was working as a waitress in Eastbourne for the summer season. Amber is Catholic so rules out abortion as a viable solution to her predicament, so Sean's ever present and controlling mum Ruth (Janet Bamford) steps up to extend her influence over her wayward son by paying for the ill-fated couple to get married. To complicate matters further, the new lodger in a room downstairs from Amber and Sean's in Ruth's house, Michael (Rob Ward) helps keep the free spirit of independence alive in Amber. This roller coaster of emotional tension is set for a bumpy ride.  

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Manchester theatre reviews

Runaway Shadows

Runaway Shadows at Contact

based on a story by Lyman Frank Baum and directed by Nick Clarke

Produced by Contact Young Actors Company and Fink On Theatre 

Reviewed by Julia Taylor  December 2012

 

On the night I saw Runaway Shadows at the Contact Theatre, Manchester it was an accessible performance for deaf people with an interpreter using British Sign Language. I wondered if this might distract hearing people from the performance but I’m glad to say that after the first few minutes we didn’t notice her and she must have been a boon to those who can’t hear.

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Simba played by Nicholas Nkuna

The Lion King

at The Palace Theatre

Reviewed by Sara Porter December 2012

 

It’s nearly twenty years since the story of Simba the lion cub of Disney’s animated story The Lion King, first graced our screens. Simba’s story from eager young lion cub who “Just Can’t Wait To Be King” and is driven into exile having been convinced by his wicked uncle Scar that he is responsible for the death of his father.

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A Government Inspector

A Government Inspector

A Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Production

Reviewed by Jane Turner November 2012

 

Eeeh by gum! A contemporary and “daft as a brush” northern adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s Revizor, jam-packed with northern caricatures and northern “blethering” with lots of “faffin’” and the quintessential oomph of a brass band. Crackin’!

 

Adapted by Deborah McAndrew and directed by Conrad Nelson this fantastic farce was performed by a versatile and talented team of twelve Northern Broadside actors. This classic Russian script has been transposed across time and space from a remote Russian village to a modern-day provincial Pennine town. It works well in its new setting because in essence it is about corruption, which as anyone knows is translatable into any language, any history, any culture and right into the present day. The new setting – “so remote that even the residents don’t know whether they are in Lancashire or Yorkshire” – could be where you or I live.

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