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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester theatre reviews


Hobson’s ChoiceHobson’s Choice

by Harold Brighouse

at Salford Arts Theatre

Reviewed by John Waterhouse, June 2018

 

The now half-forgotten genre of Lancashire comedies was one of the mainstays of British theatre in the first half of the twentieth century, but one play from that fold has more than stood the test of time, retaining its popularity as it keeps being discovered by new generations over a century after its premiere; Hobson’s Choice.

 

Many of the issues within the context of the play are now very dated such as the position and expectations of women and the levels of deference between both salesperson and customer, employer and employee (or master and servant to use the parlance of the time). However, the characters are all very believable and their respective hopes and aspirations resonate very much with us today, even if the contexts may differ. Hobson’s Choice is also an interesting time-capsule of a bygone age.

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Manchester theatre reviews


A Taste of HoneyA Taste of Honey

by Shelagh Delaney

at Oldham Coliseum

Reviewed by John Waterhouse and John Keane, May 2018

 

This is certainly one of the powerful post-war British plays, and as ground-breaking and daring when it first came out in 1958. The play still packs a relevant poignant social statement, raising political questions without becoming bogged down in party doctrines or policies.

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Manchester theatre reviews


Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Priscilla Queen of the Desert

at Altrincham Garrick Playhouse

Reviewed by Katie Leicester, May 2018

 

The beautiful renovated Altrincham Garrick Theatre hosted the flamboyant musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert, a particularly risqué script for the locals full of glitz, glamour, glitter and sexual connotations.

 

Directed by the talented Joseph Meighan, a young producer who seems to turn everything he touches into gold, this may have been an amateur show, but make no mistake there is absolutely nothing amateur about this production and I certainly was not prepared for the magnificent ingenious masterpiece I was about to witness.

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Manchester theatre reviews


Blood BrothersBlood Brothers
at Palace Theatre

Reviewed by Katie Leicester, May 2018

 

Willy Russell’s long running successful musical Blood Brothers graced the Palace Theatre in Manchester. I can’t imagine that there are many people who don’t know this infamous storyline as it has been performed by amateur and professional actors and actresses on numerous stages and venues throughout the UK and worldwide for more than 3 decades.

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Manchester theatre reviews


Long Day's Journey into Night, photo by Tim MorozzoLong Day’s Journey into Night

by Eugene O’Neill

at HOME Theatre

Reviewed by John Waterhouse and John Gormally, May 2018

 

Widely regarded as one of the great 20th Century plays, Long Day’s Journey into night is a powerful story leaving you coming away from it knowing that you’ve watched a family in insolubale turmoil.

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Manchester theatre reviews


Stags and Hens (The Remix)Stags and Hens (The Remix)

at The Altrincham Garrick Playhouse

Reviewed by Katie Leicester, May 2018

 

Willy Russell was born in 1947 in Whiston, Merseyside, into a working class family with an alcoholic father and a mother who worked in a warehouse. He grew up around very strong women relatives who later influenced him to write about believable convincing Liverpudlian female characters in the 1970’s such as Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine and Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers. I was intrigued to see how this ‘remix’ of Stags and Hens had changed from the original staging in the 1980’s.

 

Russell originally wrote Stags and Hens in 1978, and was first published in script format in 1986. He adapted 75 percent of the original script in 2008 to produce 'Stags and Hens - The Remix'. In this new script he has sharpened the pace and added modern lines appropriate to the present day, and included a lot more swearing but has kept the storyline and the period intact. The play is set in 1977 rather than present day because stag and hen parties are more commonly hosted abroad nowadays and not in back street night clubs in the UK.

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Manchester theatre reviews


The Cherry OrchardThe Cherry Orchard

by Anton Chekhov; a new translation by Rory Mullarkey

The Royal Exchange Theatre

Reviewed by John Waterhouse and John Gormally, April 2018

 

This is the first major new English translation of Chekhov’s perennial classic in over thirty years and was brought to life with a vibrant cast. With the backdrop of the rich living a life of extravagance, decadence and dissolution on the backs of the poor, some would draw parallels to growing disparities in the distribution of wealth today, although in Chekhov’s day, this led to revolution, coming only a year after The Cherry Orchard was first performed. The Cherry Orchard gives a flavour of the disparities in Russian life which ultimately led to the 1917 revolution.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Relatively Speaking

Relatively Speaking

by Alan Ayckbourn

at Oldham Coliseum

Reviewed by John Waterhouse and Charlie Britten, April 2018

 

Alan Ayckbourn is one of the most performed living playwrights in the world, with an astonishing repertoire of over seventy plays covering fifty plus years and he’s still writing! A lot of Ayckbourn plays are somewhat mediocre, like listening to a 1980’s album by Paul McCartney and wondering if this really was the same man who wrote so many Beatles classics. On that analogy, Relatively Speaking is Ayckbourn’s Sergeant Peppers; a clever, witty comedy which keeps a certain suspense running right up to the last line.

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Manchester theatre reviews


I'm Frank Morgan RewiredI’m Frank Morgan Rewired

By Joe O’Byrne

at The Kings Arms, Salford

Reviewed by John Waterhouse, April 2018

 

Tales from Paradise Heights is a collection of plays set in a rough, tough council estate, exploring the challenges and dangers for the people who live there. In Frank Morgan, it’s as bad as it gets as a villain, in the truest sense of the word he tells his own story. Frank is a hard, bad man of today but his sentiments are timeless; Al Capone went to prison saying ‘this is what I get for giving people a good time!’ and the Kray Twins thought the same thing, seeing themselves as benefactors.

 

Frank Morgan is unrepentant and even proud of his litany of violence, fear and extortion but behind all his self-justifications, some interesting questions are raised.

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Manchester theatre reviews

New Dawn Fades

at The Dancehouse Theatre

written by Brian Gorman, directed by Emma Bird

Reviewed by John Waterhouse April 2018

 

New Dawn Fades is a play about four young men who decide to form a music group; it is a play about a city re-discovering an identity; it is a play about a descent into mental illness during ever growing success; it is a play about a very particular period of time.

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