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Tuesday 2nd Jan: First Tuesday Current Affairs discussion

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Theatre Reviews

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Manchester theatre reviews
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Manchester theatre reviews

That Golden Age

That Golden Age’ at Audlem Scout Hut

Written by Rob Johnston, produced with Rebecca Fenwick

Reviewed by John Waterhouse September 2016

 

There is always something poignant about a play that deals with true events and particularly so when the main characters have struggled to achieve something against the odds. ‘That Golden Age’ puts an interesting slant on this concept by showing how crime on the high seas in the eighteenth century gave birth to a peculiar form of feminism.

 

Mary Read and Anne Bonny are documented as having been two of the most notorious pirates operating in Caribbean during the so-called ‘golden age’ of piracy. Literally commanding hundreds of men and hijacking dozens of merchant ships, it took a Royal Navy captain Jonathan Barnet, sent out at the request of the Governor of Jamaica, to put an end to their high-seas adventures. The women were certainly not a pair of nautical Robin Hoods but neither were they just feminized-Blackbeards, with piracy not having been the first choice of either of them. This is essentially the story of two women’s attempts at survival in a man’s world, after differing circumstances forced abrupt ends to otherwise more stable and comfortable lifestyles.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Latin Fiesta!Latin Fiesta! - Halle Orchestra

At The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall July 2016

 

This is the world famous concert orchestra, Manchester-based Halle, romping, gambolling and partying. In a programme filled to the rafters with the popular contemporary rhythms of Central and South America, this really was a Latin fiesta!

 

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Manchester theatre reviews

U.DanceU.Dance at Lowry Theatre

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall July 2016

 

U.Dance is an annual festival of the best youth dance companies throughout the UK and held in a different city each year. This year it was Salford's Lowry Theatre acting as host for this three day event which sees three showcase performances on the main stage on the evenings of 8 - 10 July and has various other exhibitions and pop-up performances happening around the building too, as well as workshops and masterclasses for the dancers.

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Spoonface Steinberg

Spoonface Steinberg by Lee Hall

at St John and St Peter RC Primary School

Reviewed by John Waterhouse July 2016

 

The idea of a play dealing with suffering from cancer might ordinarily sound potentially inspiring but essentially sad. The idea of a very young girl, and an autistic child at that, having cancer would probably suggest a depressing story. Add to that, the protagonist having a firm identity of being from a persecuted minority and you could be forgiven for thinking that this will be a grim tale indeed.

 

Yet, somehow, ‘Spoonface Steinberg’ takes all these factors and weaves them into a play that is inspiring, uplifting and frequently funny. It takes several issues which adults find difficult to deal with and presents them through the eyes of an innocent child with an indefatigable spirit, a wry sense of humour and an ability to see positives in almost anything.

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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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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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