Theatre
The Manchester Review

The HandleBards’ Twelfth Night | Ordsall Hall | reviewed by Laura Ryan

The HandleBards’ Twelfth Night Ordsall Hall, Salford | July 26th Two words in particular tend to strike fear into the heart of any introverted theatre-goer: audience participation. It was hinted before the commencement of the first act of this rather raucous rendition of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night that some of us would be called upon to […]

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The Manchester Review

War Horse | The Lowry

War Horse | The Lowry | 16 – 30 June 2018 After 8 years in London’s West End and several sold out tours across the UK, the National Theatre’s production of War Horse has undoubtedly become a British phenomenon. Part of the story’s charm is that it relies on a heavy dose of nostalgia for […]

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The Manchester Review

The Drill | HOME

The Drill | HOME | 15–16 June 2018 Do you know how to save a life? Do you know how to administer CPR when all around you are losing their heads and blaming it on you? Whether a rehearsal or the real thing, The Drill serves as a reminder that it may take more than […]

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The Manchester Review

Happy Days | Royal Exchange | Samuel Beckett

Happy Days | Royal Exchange | May 25th – June 23rd We find ourselves in the Royal Exchange, in the company of Maxine Peake again, having seen her Hamlet, her Miss Julie, her Skriker, her Queens of the Coal Age. For Beckett’s Happy Days, we find her buried, at first, up to her middle, and […]

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The Manchester Review

Swan Lake / Loch na hEala | Lowry Theatre: Week 53

Week 53 | The Lowry | Swan Lake / Loch na hEala | Michael Keegan-Dolan & Teac Damsa Swan Lake / Loch na ehEala won the Irish Times Theatre Award in 2017, and came to the Lowry as part of the 12-day Week 53 ‘Festival for the Curious’. Michael Keegan-Dolan is considered a leader in […]

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The Manchester Review

Long Day’s Journey Into Night, reviewed by Sima Imsir Parker

Long Day’s Journey Into Night | HOME The famous first sentence from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina has perhaps been repeated too many times already, ‘”Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Nonetheless, it is almost impossible not to remember when thinking about Eugene O’Neill’s prime work, Long Day’s Journey into Night. Perhaps due to autobiographical details of […]

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The Manchester Review

Miss Saigon at Palace Theatre

Miss Saigon / The Palace Theatre / Manchester Miss Saigon is well known for its gigantic set-pieces and Manchester’s Palace Theatre stage does not disappoint in delivering a large dose of razzle dazzle for this revival tour production. Big numbers. Great songs. Fantastic costumes. Impressive lighting and set design. Miss Saigon has a lot to […]

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The Manchester Review

Opera North’s Un Ballo in Maschera

Un Ballo in Maschera at The Lowry, Salford Saturday, March 10th I had first seen Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball) during the hedonistic days of my Erasmus year in France, spookily almost exactly five years ago to the day. For a student, the cost of a night of culture in the faded […]

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The Manchester Review

Opera North’s Don Giovanni

Don Giovanni at the Lowry, Salford Wednesday, 7 March 2018 Opera North’s staging of Mozart’s Don Giovanni is a charged mixture of moving parts, pared down scenery with dramatic lighting and comic puppetry. Madeleine Boyd’s set plays with stages within stages and frames within frames that create movement, depth, and distance that leaves just enough […]

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Chad Campbell

Opera North’s Madame Butterfly

Madame Butterfly at the Lowry, Salford Tuesday, March 6th Opera north staged Madame Butterfly at the Lowry Theatre this Tuesday as part of their ‘Fatal Passions’ season. The award-winning company has been performing Madame Butterfly since 2007, and Tuesday’s performance saw the return of Annie Sophie Duprels in the titular role of Cio-Cio-San, Peter Savage […]

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The Manchester Review

Darkest Hour, dir. Joe Wright, reviewed by David Hartley

Joe Wright’s biopic of Winston Churchill comes along at a sticky moment for this troubled isle as we slip slowly but assuredly towards the uncertain shadows of our post-Brexit landscape. Our national identity, such as it is, feels thrillingly buoyant for some, and never more soulless or hollow for many others. So, how might our […]

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The Manchester Review

Metamorphosis, The Lowry, reviewed by Simon Haworth

Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (Splendid Productions/Kerry Frampton), The Lowry, 16 November 2017. Nobody is sure whether the performance has started. The house lights are still on. There is generic light jazz muzak playing through the sound system at a tasteful volume. The three actors, if they are the actors, are waving and pointing at the […]

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The Manchester Review

Uncle Vanya, HOME, reviewed by Laura Ryan

Uncle Vanya, by Andrew Upton, directed by Walter Meierjohann; November 8 2017. Walter Meierjohann’s production of Andrew Upton’s translation of Uncle Vanya forms part of HOME’s season of art, film and theatre inspired by the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution: A Revolution Betrayed. Anton Chekhov’s late play was in fact first written and performed […]

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The Manchester Review

Hedda Gabler, The Lowry, reviewed by Tristan Burke

Hedda Gabler, by Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Patrick Marber and directed by Ivo van Hove; The Lowry, 31 October 2017. Productions of Ibsen often recall the paintings of the Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi. These mysterious paintings depict uncanny, bourgeois interiors, white panelled walls, isolated items of furniture that inhabit the paintings with the presence of […]

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The Manchester Review

Parliament Square, Royal Exchange Theatre, reviewed by Sascha Stollhans

Parliament Square by James Fritz, directed by Jude Christian; Royal Exchange Theatre, 20 October 2017. One morning, Kat (Esther Smith) kisses her husband and daughter goodbye and leaves the house. But instead of going to work, she gets on a train to London. She is led by an inner voice; a voice that encourages her […]

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The Manchester Review

Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness, Hope Mill Theatre, reviewed by Fran Slater

Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness, by Anthony Neilson; Hope Mill Theatre, 10 October 2017. It feels only fair to start with the positives, so that’s what I’ll do. Because People Zoo did do a good job of providing all the elements needed to make up an enjoyable theatrical performance. As is always the case […]

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The Manchester Review

Aziz Ibrahim: Lahore to Longsight, HOME, reviewed by James Chonglong Gu

After a brief pre-concert talk with Aziz Ibrahim and his friends, the hugely anticipated big show finally started at 7:30 sharp with a bang. Teaming up with Manchester Camerata (‘probably Britain’s most adventurous orchestra’), Aziz, a proud Manchester native, wowed big time in front of an electrified Mancunian crowd on HOME soil. Special guests of […]

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The Manchester Review

The Kite Runner, The Lowry, reviewed by Imogen Durant

The Kite Runner, based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini, directed by Giles Croft; The Lowry, 4 October 2017. Set against the backdrop 1970s Afghanistan, The Kite Runner tells a deeply emotive tale of a brotherly relationship torn apart. Opening in Kabul in 1974, the play successfully subverts the Western audience’s expectations of life in […]

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The Manchester Review

Our Town, Royal Exchange Theatre, reviewed by Peter Wild

Our Town by Thorton Wilder, directed by Sarah Frankcom; Royal Exchange Theatre, 19 September 2017. First premiered on Broadway back in 1938, Thornton Wilder’s Our Town is a play with a long history of being done wrong – whether that was as a result of overt sentimentalisation (as was the case at its debut), by […]

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The Manchester Review

Manchester International Festival: Returning to Reims, reviewed by Imogen Durant

Returning to Reims, dir. Thomas Ostermeier; HOME, July 11 2017. Thomas Ostemeier brings a work of creative non-fiction by Didier Eribon to life in this thought-provoking performance. A personal memoir with a political focus, the 2009 book by the French sociologist which gives this performance its title offers a penetrating examination of the social forces […]

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The Manchester Review

Manchester International Festival: Holly Herndon and Yael Bartana, reviewed by Luke Healey

Dark Matter: Holly Herndon, Gorilla, June 30; Yael Bartana, What if Women Ruled the World?, Mayfield Depot, July 5, 2017. In a blog post dated 9 March, 2017, Manchester International Festival’s Director John McGrath framed the contents of this year’s edition as ‘a picture of the world today’. While McGrath maintains that ‘We don’t set […]

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The Manchester Review

Lucha Libre, Albert Hall, reviewed by Luke Healey

In 2015, the multi-Emmy award-winning television producer Mark Burnett, brains behind such reality shows as Survivor and The Apprentice, launched Lucha Underground, a weekly episodic professional wrestling show realised in partnership with Hollywood director Robert Rodriguez. Bringing wrestlers from the American independent scene and Mexico’s AAA promotion together with supernatural storylines and a pulp-cinematic production […]

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The Manchester Review

Herding Cats, Hope Mill Theatre, reviewed by Fran Slater

Herding Cats, Hope Mill Theatre, May 25 2017. Billed only as a black comedy that depicts the dark humour of loneliness, little could have prepared audiences for some of the extremes that Herding Cats would go to to demonstrate the depths to which a lonely life can take you. Justine (Kayleigh Hawkins) turns to the […]

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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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