Theatre
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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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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