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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester theatre reviews

Nina - A Story About Me and Nina Simone

Nina - A Story About Me and Nina Simone

at Lowry Theatre

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall January 2018

 

I think these days, at least in this middle-class white man's perspective, Nina Simone will be remembered far more for her music output than she ever will as a political activist. This show therefore, helped me to understand and to redress the balance.

 

The play, which has evolved and re-evolved over several years, and is a co-production by The Unity Theatre in Liverpool and The National Touring Theatre of Sweden, Riksteatern, is an 80 minute long cri-de-coeur by solo performer Josette Bushell-Mingo.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Thrill of Love

The Thrill of Love

by Amanda Whittington

at Stockport Garrick

Reviewed by Simon Belt January 2018

 

The Thrill of Love dramatises the true story of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain, following her shooting of lover David Blakely on Sunday 10 April 1955. It uses the character of a Detective Inspector Jack Gale (Chris Rogerson) to tease out Ruth's story, by sympathetically and warmly unpicking her confession.

 

We are introduced to the theme of the play by Ruth (Rachael Stronge) stating ‘I am guilty. I am rather confused’. We are subsequently invited to speculate on the troubled state of mind behind the actions of this self-confessed violent murderer. Facts of Ruth's circumstances are less spelt out than implied which is a little frustrating but teases a desire to search out more, compelling to a degree a sustained focus on D.I. Gales' revealling of circumstances.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Wear Pearls and Smile - Kings Arms

Wear Pearls and Smile

King's Arms Theatre, Salford

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall January 2018

 

Silver Pine productions' latest offering is an evening of 5 one-act plays which tackle mental health, dysfunctional families, breast cancer, alcoholism, hospitals and being over 50 all with sensibility and humour, and with a deal of insight and truth in there too. The title being a quote from the third play.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Weir at Lowry Theatre

The Weir at Lowry Theatre

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall January 2018

 

Conor McPherson's award-winning modern classic, The Weir tells the story of storytelling. Oral storytelling is something that is as old as the hills, and our stories, our superstitions, beliefs, and even our customs and language have all been passed on from generation to generation through this medium. A medium that you might think in our modern day of alternative communications and technology would be lost or at least on the decline.

 

Not so in a remote village community in rural Ireland. The local pub is the place for such stories, and as the men folk use this pub as their source of entertainment they delight in telling stories and bantering with each other over a pint.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Jane Eyre at Bolton Octagon

Adapted by Janys Chambers & Lorna French

Reviewed by John Waterhouse and Karen Pearson, January 2018

 

Creating a new adaptation of Jane Eyre, a novel that has been the subject of generations of theatrical, musical and screen versions, may seem like a frightening task. The 1846 classic by Charlotte Bronte has enjoyed unfading popularity and well deserves a fresh stage production, yet how is this to be done in 2018? Should a writer bring her own emphasis for a contemporary audience? Or aim to let the powerful original narrative speak for itself? Janys Chambers and Lorna French's script is both faithful and energising. Their passion for the novel shines through every line.

 

Chambers first fell in love with the story as a ten year old - the same age her heroine appears in scene one as a book lover and deep thinker. Her version condenses the drama, deception and romance of the story in two hours of cleverly constructed dialogue.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Shakers Re-Stirred

Shakers Re-Stirred

by John Godber and Jane Thornton

at Altrincham Garrick Theatre

Reviewed by Johanna Hassouna-Smith, January 2018

 

Shakers is an all-female play, set in a trendy wine bar somewhere in the North of England. Through comedy, the play deals with modern culture and tackles issues of sexism, female expectations, prejudice, motherhood and job satisfaction. The play tells the story of a typical night in a wine bar (aptly named Shakers) as four waitresses; Carol, Adele, Nicky and Mel struggle through their long shift, serving demanding customers who come and go on their night out.

 

There is always trepidation when you go to watch an amateur production in a theatre you have never been to and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this particular venue and the quality of production. The Garrick is a lovely theatre with two spaces, the main theatre and The Lauriston Studio, where Shakers was performed. It’s a tiny auditorium with lots of atmosphere for an audience of under 50 people. Just enough for the intimacy of this wonderful production.

 

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Manchester theatre reviews

Gates of Gold

by Frank McGuinness

at Altrincham Little Theatre

Reviewed by John Waterhouse January 2018

 

Ireland has a well-deserved reputation for producing prolific playwrights although many of the most well-known, such as George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde and even Spike Milligan have been quasi-Irish to say the least, living most of their lives in London (or perhaps France in the case of Beckett). So many full-blooded Irish plays in my own experience, despite being often popular with audiences, have been depressing, lamenting and insular in outlook (‘The Beauty Queen of Leeane’ being a prime example).

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Little Angel - King's Arms

The Little Angel

King's Arms Theatre, Salford

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall January 2018

 

Celebrated Russian playwright, known for his expressionistic and oftentimes symbolist works Leonid Andreyev's lesser known short story, The Little Angel, was the inspiration for this evening's new Musical of the same name by Yorkshire-based company Actual Size.

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Manchester music reviews

risa-hall-an-introduction

Risa Hall - an introduction

by Matthew Dougall January 2018

 

It's funny but you never know who you are going to meet, and under what circumstances. I regularly review the public productions at The Arden Theatre School in Manchester, and whilst waiting for the auditorium to be opened one afternoon I found myself chatting to one of the teachers there, Risa Hall. Through the conversation it became clear that she was an extremely talented individual who has, to date, led quite an interesting and fulfilling life.

 

I have to be honest and say that the name Risa Hall meant absolutely nothing to me prior to this, despite having seen her at other Arden performances (she teaches voice there). However, I have now discovered that she is also a talented actress, voice-over artist, but mostly and primarily a singer / songwriter.

 

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Manchester theatre reviews

Air Play - Lowry Theatre

Air Play

at Lowry Theatre

Reviewed by Katie Leicester January 2018

 

The creation of Acrobuffos husband and wife team Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone Air Play merges their circus and street theatre performance art with the sculptured artistry of Daniel Wurtzel. The talented couple met at the circus in Afghanistan and married at a clown festival in China where Christina (bride) wore a dress made out of tiny white balloons.

 

Air Play is a circus style adventure of two siblings journeying through a surreal land of air, transforming the ordinary into objects of uncommon beauty.

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