Theatre
The Manchester Review

The Crucible, Manchester Opera House, reviewed by Peter Wild

The Crucible, Manchester Opera House, May 8 2017. “There is a prodigious fear of the court in the country,” we are told in the second half of Douglas Rintoul’s production of Arthur Miller’s 1950 play, The Crucible – and for a minute, there is a ripple, a shudder, across the audience in the Opera House, […]

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The Manchester Review

MK Ultra, HOME, reviewed by Imogen Durant

MK Ultra, directed by Rosie Kay, HOME, May 3 2017. From its opening declaration, ‘This is Fake Theatre’, it is clear that MK Ultra is a performance that intends to challenges the notion of truth and its role in modern media. Taking its name from a mind control programme developed by the CIA in the […]

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The Manchester Review

Tank, HOME, reviewed by Emma Rhys

Tank, Breach Theatre, HOME, May 4 2017. It’s the 1960s. Consciousness is being expanded by LSD and a house is being flooded with water to accommodate a specious romance between a woman named Margaret and a dolphin named Peter. Sex n’ drugs n’ dolphins. FADE IN: Dolphin Point Laboratory, St Thomas, Virgin Islands. Psychonaut John […]

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The Manchester Review

Twelfth Night, The Royal Exchange, reviewed by Ruari Paton

Twelfth Night, directed by Jo Davies; The Royal Exchange Theatre, April 20. Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night depicts the events that take place after a shipwreck separates twins Viola (Faith Omole) and Sebastian (Daniel Francis-Swaby), leaving them to fend for themselves in Illyria with no knowledge of the whereabouts or wellbeing of the other. Viola seeks refuge […]

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Marli Roode

How My Light Is Spent, The Royal Exchange, reviewed by Marli Roode

How My Light Is Spent, by Alan Harris, directed by Liz Stevenson; April 24 2017. “What’s the play about?” Zoe asks me over too-spicy pho that she will feel sloshing around later – audibly I swear, did you not hear it – whenever she moves in her seat in the dark of the Studio Theatre. […]

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The Manchester Review

Jane Eyre, The Lowry, reviewed by Peter Wild

Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, dir. Sally Cookson; The Lowry, April 12 2017. Ah how audacious, the audience clucked in the interval. So intelligent, so rousing. Such fine performances. Such an ambitious set. And oh how we loved the songs. And Jane herself. The whole – so lavish, so sumptuous, such a modern, innovative reworking […]

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The Manchester Review

Moth, Hope Mill Theatre, reviewed by Fran Slater

Moth, by Declan Green; Hope Mill Theatre, April 14 2017. Moth begins with two almost catatonic looking characters in school uniforms walking slowly down opposites sides of the stage while a cacophony of sound and light surrounds them, building to a point that makes the audience tense and uncomfortable before a word has even been […]

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The Manchester Review

The Woman in Black, The Lowry, reviewed by Emma Rhys

The Woman in Black, directed by Robin Herford, The Lowry; March 20 2017. Having watched plenty of horror films in my time, I was surprised to find myself viscerally spooked after reading one of the few horror novels I have ever read, The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, in preparation for this review. I […]

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The Manchester Review

Fractured Memory, HOME, reviewed by Imogen Durant

Ogutu Muraya presents Fractured Memory, HOME; March 16 2017. ‘How can one deal with an inherited history that is full of complexity?’ Ogutu Muraya asks in the blurb to Fractured Memory. The performance’s response seems to be: through complexity itself. Employing an astounding range of technical and formal mediums, Ogutu weaves together an assortment of […]

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Simon Haworth

The Suppliant Women, The Royal Exchange, reviewed by Simon Haworth

The Suppliant Women, directed by Ramin Gray, presented by The Royal Exchange, Actors Touring Company and Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh; March 10 2017. In a call back to the custom of ancient Greek theatre, a libation is given to Aphrodite before David Greig and director Ramin Grey’s interpretation of The Suppliant Women begins. Following speeches […]

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Simon Haworth

Paul Auster’s City of Glass, HOME, reviewed by Simon Haworth

Paul Auster’s City of Glass, adapted by Duncan Macmillan, directed by Leo Warner for 59 Productions; HOME, March 18, 2017. From the moment the battery of lights surrounding the outer edges of the proscenium blindingly flare on and off (as they will many times throughout this production, perhaps representing sudden moments of recollection and forgetting) […]

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Simon Haworth

The House of Bernarda Alba, The Royal Exchange, reviewed by Simon Haworth

The House of Bernarda Alba, by Federico Garcia Lorca (trans. Jo Clifford), directed by Jenny Sealey; Royal Exchange Theatre and Graeae Theatre Company, February 3 2017. A grey linen rag plummets from the lighting rig it has been hanging from, falls down towards the bare and worn floorboards of the stage floor and stops short […]

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The Manchester Review

The Island, The Sea, The Volunteer & The Refugee, HOME, reviewed by Fran Slater

The Island, The Sea, The Volunteer & The Refugee, directed by Susan Roberts for PUSH festival 2017; HOME, January 15 2017. When we were handed our tickets we were told to hold onto them tightly; they were our papers, and we would need them to cross the border into Kos. The lift opened and a […]

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The Manchester Review

The Trial, HOME, reviewed by Tristan Burke

The Trial, directed by Craig Sanders; HOME, January 16 2017. There is much to admire in this impressive adaptation of Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial, adapted and performed by the young Manchester theatre company People Zoo Productions. Set on a stage piled with jagged mounds of junk, cupboards, empty picture frames, the production design recalls […]

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The Manchester Review

Cathy, The Royal Exchange, reviewed by Fran Slater

Cathy, by Abi Taylor, directed by Adrian Jackson; The Royal Exchange, January 12 2017. How do you solve the problem of homelessness? I know that’s not the kind of question you normally expect to be faced with when you head online to check out what shows you should be going to see in the next […]

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The Manchester Review

Sweet Charity, The Royal Exchange, reviewed by Peter Wild

Sweet Charity, by Neil Simon, directed by Derek Bond; The Royal Exchange, January 6 2017. It took about five years for the word ‘screwball’ to shift from baseball slang (1928) to the way in which a certain kind of comedy was viewed (some wag used the word to describe a Carol Lombard film back in […]

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The Manchester Review

The National Ballet of China, The Peony Pavilion, The Lowry, reviewed by Zoe Gosling

The Peony Pavilion was originally a play written by Tang Xianzu and first performed in 1598. Most commonly and traditionally performed as an opera with a running time of over twenty hours, this retelling came about in 2008 when the then artistic director of the Chinese National Ballet, Zhao Ruheng, approached choreographer Fei Bo to […]

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The Manchester Review

Der Rosenkavalier, Opera North at The Lowry, reviewed by Ashley McGovern

Der Rosenkavalier, Opera North at The Lowry, directed by David McVicar; November 9 2016. In the Act III of Der Rosenkavalier, after he has been subject to the torments of a farcical trap to expose him as the grasping, bewigged horndog that he is, the bewildered Count Ochs says to his avengers ‘so this has […]

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The Manchester Review

Ghosts, HOME, reviewed by Tristan Burke

Ghosts, directed by Polly Findlay, HOME; November 23 2016. Niamh Cusack is playing Helen Alving. She casually leans against a door frame, drinking milk from the carton that she’s taken from a fridge, as she watches the local priest, Pastor Manders (Jamie Ballard) simultaneously be conned into believing he is to blame for a fire […]

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The Manchester Review

Billy Budd, Opera North at The Lowry, reviewed by Tristan Burke

Billy Budd, Opera North at The Lowry, directed by Orpha Phelan; November 10 2016. There is something similar about a late eighteenth-century warship and an opera company. Both are sophisticated technologies of production that rely on the hierarchical division of labour to produce spectacular effects. This similarity was stressed in Opera North’s recent production of […]

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The Manchester Review

The Emperor, HOME, reviewed by Peter Wild

The Emperor, by Ryszard Kapuściński, adapted by Colin Teevan and directed by Walter Meierjohann; September 29, 2016.   You don’t need to know much about Haile Selassie to enjoy Kathryn Hunter’s performances in The Emperor, a one-hour, almost one-woman show in which she dons many hats (and shoulder stripes, and walking sticks, and epaulettes, and […]

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The Manchester Review

A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer, HOME, reviewed by Şima İmşir Parker

A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer, directed by Bryony Kimmings; HOME, September 23 2016. Emma is waiting at the reception of the oncology department. She is sure it is only a matter of time until she leaves. Doctors have spotted a tiny shadow on the lungs of Emma’s son, a little baby called […]

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The Manchester Review

A Streetcar Named Desire, The Royal Exchange, reviewed by Ruari Paton

A Streetcar Named Desire, The Royal Exchange, September 8 2016; directed by Sarah Frankcom.   In Tennessee Williams’ 1947 play, a Southern belle, Blanche DuBois (Maxine Peake), is forced to move into the small and squalid New Orleans home of her sister, Stella Kowalski (Sharon Duncan-Brewster), and brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski (Ben Batt) after losing her […]

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The Manchester Review

The Shawshank Redemption, The Lowry, reviewed by Fran Slater

The Shawshank Redemption, The Lowry, May 5 2016; adapted by Owen O’Neill and Dave Johns, directed by David Esbjornson.   Hope springs eternal. Any of Stephen King’s constant readers (as the author himself likes to call them) will recognise that three-word phrase. It is the mantra by which Andy Dufresne, protagonist of King’s 1982 novella […]

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The Manchester Review

Now Listen To Me Very Carefully, HOME, reviewed by William Simms

Bootworks Theatre presents Now Listen To Me Very Carefully, HOME; June 7 2016. Now Listen To Me Very Carefully charts Bootworks Theatre Artistic Director Andy Robert’s self-diagnosed obsession with James Cameron’s 1991 film Terminator 2: Judgement Day. According to Robert’s stage persona, he has seen the film 238 times, and upon entering the theatre he […]

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The Manchester Review

The Night Watch, The Royal Exchange, reviewed by Fran Slater

The Night Watch, The Royal Exchange; May 19, 2016 (Photograph by Richard Davenport) The Night Watch, in Sarah Waters’ 2006 novel at least, investigates a range of important societal injustices that existed in England around the time of the Second World War. The novel does a thorough job of documenting the issues faced by conscientious […]

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The Manchester Review

Twelfth Night, HOME, reviewed by Fran Slater

Twelfth Night, HOME; May 11 2016 There are a few ways to do Shakespeare. Fans of the bard will be familiar with a fair few of them. From the standard stick to the script and stick the actors in clothes that look a bit like those they wore in the 1500s, to the modernise the […]

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The Manchester Review

King Lear, The Royal Exchange, reviewed by Annie Dickinson

King Lear, The Royal Exchange, dir. Michael Buffong, April 1 – May 7, 2016 With a play like King Lear, William Shakespeare’s formidable tragedy of madness, a divided kingdom, and children turned against their parents, expectations are inevitably going to be high, and director Michael Buffong’s co-production with Talawa Theatre, the Royal Exchange, and Birmingham […]

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The Manchester Review

L’elisir d’amore, Opera North at The Lowry, reviewed by Ashley McGovern

L’elisir d’amore, The Lowry, March 17 2016 The collaboration between harried librettist Felice Romani and the celebrated composer Gaetano Donizetti resulted in a trio of operas about three wildly different women. Overall, they seemed to favour melodrama, beginning with a tragic Tudor mistress in Anna Bolena (1830) and finishing on a lusty high with the […]

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The Manchester Review

The Beanfield, HOME, reviewed by Fran Slater

The Beanfield, April 2 2016 Have you heard of the Battle of the Beanfield? I don’t mind admitting that, until last night, it wasn’t something that I was aware of. Some of you will be agreeing with me, I’m sure; while others, those who do know about the terrible events that unfolded in a field […]

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The Manchester Review

The Herbal Bed, The Lowry, reviewed by Ruari Paton

The Herbal Bed, dir. James Dacre The Lowry, 30th March 2016 In the summer of 1613 Susanna Hall (Emma Lowndes), the daughter of William Shakespeare and wife of local doctor John Hall (Jonathan Guy Lewis), is publicly accused by her husband’s former student Jack Lane (Matt Whitchurch) of having an affair with close family friend […]

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The Manchester Review

The Encounter, HOME, reviewed by Laura Swift

The Encounter, Complicite/Simon McBurney, HOME, March 17th 2016 In 1969, the National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre travels deep into the Amazon rainforest, alone, to find and document the Mayoruna people, a nomadic tribe who, in 1969, have had barely any contact with the rest of the world. In his eagerness to document them, Loren follows […]

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The Manchester Review

Così fan tutte, Opera North at The Lowry, reviewed by Emma Rhys

Così fan tutte, The Lowry, Salford Quays, 16–18 March 2016 Così fan tutte – the politically incorrect title translated variously as ‘Women Are Like That’, ‘They’re All the Same’, or the preferable, ‘The School for Lovers’ – is an Italian opera composed by Mozart in 1790 to a libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte. Commissioned by […]

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The Manchester Review

Endgame at HOME, reviewed by Tristan Burke

Thu 25 Feb 2016 – Sat 12 Mar 2016 There is a moment in Endgame where Clov, the worn out, abused servant of the imperious Hamm, looks through a telescope at the audience and announces that he can see ‘A multitude…in transports…of joy’. The joke isn’t quite that the play is so deathly boring, miserable, […]

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The Manchester Review

Husbands and Sons, The Royal Exchange, reviewed by Peter Wild

Husbands and Sons, dir. Marianne Elliott, The Royal Exchange, 23 February 2016 Tha knows, doesn’t tha? What to expect from Derek Herbert Lawrence. Tha knows. Cloth caps. Mining towns. Put upon lasses with frownin, frowzy faces. Aye, tha knows. Tha knows what life is like on’t hard edge. Tha knows what it’s like, doesn’t tha? […]

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