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Theatre Reviews

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Manchester theatre reviews
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Manchester theatre reviews

Little Shop of Horrors

Little Shop of Horrors at Palace Theatre

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall October 2016

 

Little Shop Of Horrors is something of a cult Musical, and a complete and shameless Mickey-take of the trend in the late 1950s for Hollywood to produce low budget horror films, affectionately categorised as B-Movies [so named because they were the first film in a Double Feature, and not the main attraction]. In the case of this particular story, we see Mushnik, owner of a flower shop in a run-down, poor and forgotten NY neighbourhood, and his two hapless employees - the rather ditzy tart-with-a-heart, Audrey, and the clumsy and downtrodden Seymour. Their fortunes are certain, they are going nowhere and the shop is closing up for good - that is until Seymour shows his employer a 'strange and unusual' plant that he has been cultivating.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Wind in The WillowsThe Wind In The Willows at Lowry Theatre

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall October 2016

 

Jamie Hendry, MJE Productions, Josh Gilinski and the Theatre Royal Plymouth, present a World Premiere of a Musical based on the novel by Kenneth Grahame; the perennial children's favourite, Wind In The Willows. Although, I say a children's favourite, it is loved by children much older too; and perhaps even more surprising is my admission that whilst the storyline and characters are nevertheless familiar to me, I have still yet to read the book.

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French without tears

French without tears at Oldham Coliseum

by Terrence Rattigan

Reviewed by John Waterhouse Oct 2016

 

With a high reputation for polished productions, the Olivier Award-winning English Touring Theatre are a welcome visitor to the Coliseum Theatre. Based in Waterloo, London, ETT have performed an eclectic mix of new and classic works since 1993, with a reputation for tourer large theatres in England. Having presented in recent years, well-known classic works by Shakespeare and Ibsen amongst others, ‘French without tears’ is an interesting choice as this, whilst by no means a lesser known work, is rarely revived although Terrence Rattigan play continue to be performed, probably the best known being ‘The Winslow Boy.’

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Rocky Horror Show at Opera House

The Rocky Horror Show at Opera House

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall October 2016

 

It has been a very long time since I last saw this particular show live, and I had forgotten exactly how enjoyable an experience it can be. It really is a two-way theatrical experience with many of the audience wearing costume and make-up, and bringing along torches, newspapers and other such paraphernalia to be used at time-honoured places in this cult show. They also bring with them well-known responses or even some well-placed heckles and ad-libs which the cast simply have to work with. This is a show that, very much like the sing-a-long Sound Of Music, is something of a phenomenon. You either get with it, or get lost!

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Manchester theatre reviews

Jumpers

Jumpers for Goalposts at Oldham Coliseum

by Tom Wells

Reviewed by John Waterhouse Oct 2016


The synopsis for this play seemed to suggest that it is about football and the gay community. Loosely speaking, what I saw broadly covered both these two topics but neither was dealt with in any incisive or meaningful way, and I left the Coliseum wondering what the play was really about and who it was really aimed at. One player did say he had been hit outside his flat for being gay but this was really just in passing and homophobic abuse is certainly not what this play is about.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Brassed Off

Brassed Off’ at Oldham Coliseum

Adapted by Paul Allen; screenplay by Mark Herman

Reviewed by John Waterhouse and Dave Samuels Sept 2016

 

Following on from their June production of 'The Ladykillers', Oldham Coliseum are now presenting another stage adaptation of a popular film, and having never seen the film version of ‘Brassed Off’, I went to the opening performance without any preconceptions, other than knowing the story centres around a brass band in a Yorkshire mining community.

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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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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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Manchester theatre reviews

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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