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Manchester reviewed
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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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Manchester theatre reviews

The Little Mermaid

at The Lowry

Adapted from the Hans Christian Andersen story by Poppy Burton-Morgan with music by Matt Devereaux

Reviewed by John Waterhouse April 2018

 

Every once in a while, someone claims to have created a new genre, which is normally code for saying it is really a pastiche of something else. With The Little Mermaid, it looks like Metta Theatre Company have actually succeeded in doing just this by bringing together gymnastics, tricks, dance, actor/musicianship and singing to create what is truly a circus musical. The Little Mermaid is a joy to watch with seamless, non-stop action blending with a highly creative original music score and spirited singing and acting.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Birdsong at Lowry

Birdsong at The Lowry

Reviewed byJane Turner April 2018

Written by Rachel Wagstaff to mark the 100-year anniversary of the end of the first world war when at least 10 million people (many underage) lost their lives. The popular 400-page Sebastian Faulks novel that covers three different time periods, has been turned into a play of just over two hours. Even though some of the story has been omitted and it remains sympathetic to the spirit of the novel, I must confess that at times it felt almost as long as the war itself. The brutal reality of the trenches and tunnels and the needless horror of the bloody battlefields of France are well depicted and combined with scenes from an earlier peacetime and a love story at the heart of this tale.

It is an emotional and gripping production that begins in 1916, before the Battle of the Somme. The hopelessness, waste and insanity is captured onstage, and the audience are immersed in the horror and devastation of warfare and its inescapable misery and terror by a creative evocation of the sombre and explosive soundscape, graphic lighting displays and what must have been a flesh rotting and gas ridden stench. Several sudden loud explosions rocked the theatre and had the audience jumping out of their seats.

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Manchester theatre reviews


Grumpy Old WomenGrumpy Old Women

at Lowry

Reviewed by Jane Turner, April 2018

 

Starring Jenny Eclair, Dilly Keane and Lizzie Roper

Between 2010 and 2050, the global population of over-65s is expected to treble from 530 million to 1.5 billion, and within the next 10 years, for the first time ever, over-65s will outnumber under-fives. The population is about to get a lot older, and if caricatures of old people are to be believed, and this play is full of them, the world is about to get a hell of a lot grumpier.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Art at The Lowry

By Yasmina Reza

Reviewed by John Waterhouse March 2018

Art has apparently grossed an astonishing 200M since its debut in 1996, propelling French playwright Yasmina Reza into the premier league of international playwrights and being translated into a host of languages.

There is a parallel to Waiting for Godot (itself having been first performed in French) in that at first glance, all we see are two or three men talking and arguing and seemingly getting nowhere but as with Beckets masterpiece, there is considerable depth to Art which leaves the audience pondering its meanings long after watching the show. This is also a play which breaks modern conventions with frequent soliloquies and occasional long speeches.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Education Education Education at Lowry

Education Education Education at The Lowry

Reviewed byJane Turner March 2018

Tony Blair is remembered for many things and blamed for everything from Iraq to the destruction of Old Labour. Educationalists remember him for his apparent focus on education embodied in his proclamation that Labours top priority was, is and always will be education, education, education, and this mantra is at the heart of this fast paced and entertaining comedy.

Feverishly performed by the Wardrobe Ensemble in the top-notch setting of the Lowrys Quay Theatre, this is set in the anarchic Wordsworth comprehensive school on the day after the 1997 Labour landslide. The election result proclaimed that things would only get better, and the play asks questions about what we are taught and who is to blame for the current state of the education system. It is a reminder of how the Blair government, despite over a decade of major investment, failed to deliver on its promise of an education utopia.

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Manchester music reviews

Holy Doom by Demob Happy

Holy Doom by Demob Happy

Reviewed by Andrew Marsden March 2018

Brighton based (but Newcastle formed) band Demob Happys second album, Holy Doom, is their first album as a three-piece, following the departure of lead guitarist Matthew Renforth in 2016. Although the band may have reduced in number, they most certainly have not reduced the impact of their scuzzy-grunge-psych rock.

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