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Tuesday 1st May: First Tuesday Current Affairs discussion

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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester theatre reviews

Up and Coming

by Eric Chapell

at Altrincham Garrick Theatre

Reviewed by John Waterhouse February 2018

 

Politics, like it loathe it, is always with us; the subject of Brexit seeming exhaustible and political satires can give some respite with certain issues giving rise to complete plays. Up and Coming is set against a political backdrop but there is not a single issue or political policy mentioned in the entire play and there is nothing to identify any of the characters with any political persuasion.

 

The target here being simply the egos and failings of MPs with the politicians - who are all male - more akin to jockeys in a horse race, all trying to get the most powerful position possible by whatever means whilst enjoying their vices along the way. There is no attempt to look in any detail at the political processes, as in ‘Yes Minister’ or set the action against any event or issue. Up and Coming could be placed in the same genre as the classic Ray Cooney farce ‘Out of Order’, again set in a posh hotel bedroom with an MP trying to keep their indications under wraps.

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Manchester theatre reviews

West Side Story at Buxton Opera House

Directed by Paul Kerryson

Reviewed by John Waterhouse February 2018

 

This production of West Side Story can only be described as superb. After seeing the show, it came as a real surprise to discover that this was a local community production, directed by the CEO of Buxton Opera House, Paul Kerryson. The level of professionalism and polish could hardly be bettered by any West End production, with the energy and enthusiasm of the cast never wavering from start to finish.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Hamlet at Bolton Octagon

Directed by David Thacker

Reviewed by John Waterhouse and Charles Britten, February 2018

 

It often seems the better known a Shakespeare play, the more modern directors and writers appear tempted to make it appear superficially different. Whether dressing people up as superheroes, placing the setting in a Nazi concentration camp or re-writing the whole story for a very different scenario linked only by tepid allegory, such attempts frequently go too far and produce disappointing results.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Brief Encounter at The Lowry

By Emma Rice, adapted from the Noel Coward film

Reviewed by John Waterhouse February 2018

 

This is a show which can truly be described as a real treat encompassing catchy period music, amazing physical effects, stunning multi-media production and a strong cast. It also pays homage to both a classic British film and one of our most enduringly popular playwrights. Writer/Director Emma Rice has done a most excellent job in taking a classic film and moving it to a new era whilst never losing sight of the original.

 

This production of Brief Encounter presents a something problem to reviewers because there are several artistic effects which really deserve special mention but to do so would give spoilers to what are otherwise genuine surprises. It certainly has for me - the most powerful and creative images I have ever seen, with many clever and at times, jaw-dropping twists.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Replacement Child

The Replacement Child

at Hope Mill Theatre

Reviewed by Katie Leicester February 2018

 

Hope Mill Theatre hosted this tragic but compelling play of every parent’s nightmare to have a child die unexpectedly.

 

The Replacement Child is produced by Abooo, a new theatre Company set up by actress Clare Cameron who plays ‘Jude’ in the production. The Company is dedicated to celebrating theatre made by and for parents. As a mother herself Clare wanted to see more stories on stage that mirrored her own experience of child birth and parenting in general.

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Manchester theatre reviews

George's Marvellous Medicine

George's Marvellous Medicine

at Lowry Theatre, Salford

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall February 2018

 

A Curve, Leicester and Rose Productions joint venture, this was a slick and entertaining stage adaptation by David Wood of the Roald Dahl children's classic story.

 

On entering the auditorium we were presented with an excellently designed and compact set which aided the play and our understanding of the situation and place. Grandma's rise from the caravan was especially well designed. This, combined with some excellent special effects really helped the audience to be complicit in a rather bizarre and difficult to create on stage storyline.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Swan Lake

Swan Lake

by Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet

at Storyhouse Theatre, Chester

Reviewed by Andrew Marsden February 2018

 

Tchaikovsky’s ballet is widely regarded as one of the most popular ballet pieces. It is, in effect, the ballet for people who don’t like ballet. Elements of Tchaikovsky’s score have been used in television adverts, film soundtracks, and popular music. This staging of Swan Lake came courtesy of the St. Petersburg Classic Ballet company, performing at Chester’s Storyhouse Theatre.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Dance: sampled

Dance: Sampled

at Lowry Theatre, Salford

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall February 2018

 

A whole day of dance with a showpiece main event, Dance:Sampled, included small dance presentations, shows and workshops to encourage and excite people into dance - in all its various and wonderful forms. There was everything from folk dancing workshops to clowning, hip-hop and flamenco, all happening in different spaces throughout the whole theatre building. The main house was given over to a rather long but extremely interesting presentation, which featured 7 short choreographies from different companies throughout the UK and beyond, showcasing different styles of dance.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Newspaper Boy. Photo by Richard Kelly

The Newspaper Boy at 53two

by Chris Hoyle

Reviewed by Jane Tuttle February 2018

 

Dibby Theatre Production’s The Newspaper Boy is a triumphant piece of comedy writing by proud Mancunian Chris Hoyle. Directed by Simon Naylor, this tightly written, coming-of-age story, set in 90s Manchester bobs along at a pace akin to a good night-out at the Hacienda from days gone by.

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Manchester music reviews

Un Chien Andalou

Luis Bunel’s Un Chien Andalou

at Royal Northern College of Music

Reviewed by Andrew Marsden February 2018

 

Looking at the surface, it does seem somewhat incongruous that the RNCM programmed an evening of four short Surrealist films on the evening of Valentine’s Day. But the Surrealists, in thrall to the unconscious mind, were all about delving beyond the surface. On a day traditionally associated with declarations of pure love, it was fitting that these films were screened. For many people, love is often chaotic, liberating, even Surreal.

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