Next Salon Discussion

First Tuesday current affairs discussion - Tuesday 5 December 7:00pm start

Tuesday 5th Dec: 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

David Neilson (Hamm) and Chris Gascoyne (Clov) in Endgame

Endgame at Home

by Samuel Beckett, co-presented by Citizens Theatre

Reviewed by Stephen Bowler February 2016

 

Imagine, if you will, an existential launderette, where, one evening, you take your embodied self for a service wash. You check in your soul, which goes into a big boxy machine on a programme marked all-Western-thought-and-then-some, along with some Cartesian powder and a little Comedic conditioner. During the 90-odd minute wash your psychic goods go round and round, scratching a bit on the window, yielding flashes of apparel in no particular order. The end of the cycle looks a lot like the beginning.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Gospel according to Jesus, Queen of Heaven

The Gospel according to Jesus, Queen of Heaven

Written and performed by Jo Clifford

Reviewed by Stephen Bowler February 2016

 

The Gospel according to Jesus, Queen of Heaven is a one hour ‘sermon’ written and performed by Jo Clifford, who invites us to embrace a ‘queer Jesus’. More agitprop performance art than theatrical event.

 

The audience is addressed and directly challenged by Clifford who is constantly on the move, sometimes in-amongst those who have responded to the offer to sit closer, in a more intimate setting, but more often round the back of us, disallowing any comfortable sense of distance between audience and performer.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Pitmen Painters

The Pitmen Painters at Oldham Coliseum

Reviewed by John Waterhouse February 2016

 

This play might at first glance appear to be another take on how to escape depressing times in Northern collieries, a la ‘Brassed Off’, but it’s actually a funny show that works on a number of levels. There have been many satires in past decades about what or who defines art and what in essence is an artist. A personal favourite is the 1961 Tony Hancock film ‘The Rebel’ where an office bean-counter makes a bid to escape his existence of a wage-slave by becoming ‘an artist’ in Paris.

 

The Pitmen Painters starts on a more positive premise; a group of colliery workers simply want to broaden their horizons by trying to appreciate art and the teacher they hire quickly decides that the best way they can achieve this is to become artists, or least to try painting, themselves.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Life Stories with Chekhov

Life Stories at Salford Arts Theatre

Reviewed by Stephen Bowler February 2016

Produced by Radius Opera and Theatre

 

All art is quite useless. That’s why we need it. Because we aren’t tools, but men and women with interests beyond utilitarian calculus. Soul is what matters; soul and sympathy and human understanding.

 

If such is your view, Life Stories is the evening for you. A pithy, prescient two-parter, Life Stories bounces one tale off another and leaves us asking for more.

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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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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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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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