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

Tuesday 2nd Jan: 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

Dick Whittington

Dick Whittington

at Opera House, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

Qdos Entertainment are back, and have not skimped on budget to bring you this year's thrilling SFX masterpiece. Costumes and set are wonderful and colourful, songs upbeat and catchy, music great, and the special effects and pyrotechnics are simply the best I have ever seen in any pantomime ever - including Rudolph pulling a sleigh out over the audience. Later on in the show, a large shark was doing the same, whilst the lovers have a lovely tableau in front of a giant Catherine Wheel.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Around The World In 80 Days

at The Lowry, Salford

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

In yet another adaptation of the Jules Verne classic, this time by Laura Eason, we went on a whistle-stop tour of the world as it was, or at least as it was romanticised as being, back in the days of Victoria and Empire.

 

This version was one whose target audience though was not the hardened mature theatre-goers like myself, but the tweens and youngsters who might well be coming to the theatre for the first time, and the way in which this company engaged this audience and made them feel safe before making them complicit and a part of the story was excellent.

 

I have been to something in excess of 100 pantomimes and even more children's shows, and rarely have I seen a cast able to 'work' the audience and slowly involve them more and more in the way this cast did, and for this evening's audience, which was made up in no small measure by majority younger generations, this was delightful and they loved it.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Gruffalo at The Lowry

by Tall Stories Theatre Company

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

A young child's modern classic, a book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler tells the story of a small mouse who enters The Deep Dark Wood and scares off the mouse's natural predators by inventing a Gruffalo. To the mouse's surprise, the Gruffalo is real and wants to eat the mouse, until the mouse has the guile to show the Gruffalo that the mouse's predators are scared and they become friends.

 

Of course you have to be of Infant School age (4 - 6 years old) to truly enjoy these stories as that of course is their catchment age range, and for this afternoon's stage adaptation by Tall Stories Theatre Company, this age range and perhaps a little older formed the majority of the audience.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Eight

Eight at 53two, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

Eight is a collection of monologues by writer Ella Hickson. The 'catch' with this presentation however is that the audience are asked to vote for which 4 of the 8 monologues they would like to watch before they enter the auditorium. We were given a short breakdown of each character and in true political fashion, asked to put a cross in the box next to our choice, and then deposit the voting paper in a box at the box office.

 

Those with the most votes got to perform that evening. This evening however, there were 9 actors, not 8, and we voted for 4 monologues and saw 5.

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Manchester theatre reviews

9 to 5 - The Musical

9 to 5 - The Musical

Produced by The Arden

at Waterside Theatre, Sheena Simon College

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall December 2017

 

Students on the BA (Hons) Musical Theatre course at The Arden (part of Manchester College) perform for the public twice a year, and their choice of Musical always surprises me.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Nativity! The Musical

Nativity! The Musical

at Palace Theatre, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall November 2017

 

OK, I admit it, it was wonderful! Produced by The Belgrade Theatre of Coventry, this is the Birmingham Repertory Theatre's production of the Musical version of a film I have never seen. I therefore went this evening with absolutely no prior knowledge of what to expect. I have one more admission too, as I sat in the theatre and looked at the very Christmassy set and listened to a stupid and twee voice-over asking us not to use our mobile phones. I then witnessed an awful introduction to the show, absolutely hating what I was watching for twenty minutes.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Crazy for You

Crazy For You

at Opera House, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall November 2017

 

This was the opening night of a 5 night run of The Watermill Theatre's production of the Gerschwin classic, Crazy For You.

 

I was really looking forward to seeing this show; I adore Gerschwin, but so rarely does one get the opportunity to watch an entire evening of one of his Broadway classics. The songs will pop up now and then in showcases and gala evenings, but more modern style Musicals have taken over from the all-singing, all-dancing, boy-meets-girl and all ends happily-ever-after formula that this show glorifies and typifies.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Ladykillers at Lyceum

The Ladykillers by Graham Lineham

at The Lyceum Theatre, Oldham

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall November 2017

 

When I was given the opportunity to review Oldham Lyceum's production of The Ladykillers I didn't just say 'yes', but added, 'and if anyone else thinks they're going to come in my stead, I'll kill 'em'! For as long as I can remember Peter Sellers has been my all-time favourite screen actor, with Sir Alec Guinness a close second. This truly iconic and fabulous 1955 film starred the latter, and saw Sellers perform one of his first on-screen cameos that wasn't a Goon character.

 

Yes, there was a terrible remake in the early 2000s - but we'll gloss over that as basically all remakes of the great films simply fall flat on their faces! This one probably fell flat though simply because it is a very British comedy, some might say quintessentially so; therefore moving the action to Mississippi and using Tom Hanks in the lead was doomed for failure straight away!

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Manchester theatre reviews

Dave Spikey: Juggling on a Motorbike

Dave Spikey: Juggling on a Motorbike

at Middleton Arena, Manchester

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall November 2017

 

Farnworth-born comedian Dave Spikey visited Middleton, north Manchester this evening as part of his latest stand-up comedy show tour, Juggling on a Motorbike.

 

My previous knowledge of this self-confessed veteran comedian was as a team captain on the TV show 8 Out of Ten Cats, and little else, and so I was curious to see exactly what he would be like live.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Full Monty

The Full Monty

at Heywood Civic Centre, Rochdale

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall November 2017

 

For those of you who, like me, knew nothing of the Musical, and had previously only seen the award-winning British film, then it will come both as a surprise and disappointment to lean that the Musical version is a very watered-down affair and set, not in Sheffield, but Buffalo, USA. Presumably this is because the authors of this Musical, Terrence McNally and David Yazbek are American and thought the US market would be more likely to buy tickets for and relate to something set on their shores rather than in li'l ol' England. That may well be the case, but perversely the opposite also applies, and losing something which to many is a 'national treasure', something akin to Brassed Off, is a travesty; and the grit and spirit of the film has been 'lost in translation'.

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