Reviews
The Manchester Review

Four pamphlets from If a Leaf Falls Press, reviewed by Lucy Burns

Sam Riviere has been producing a series of very limited edition pamphlets from his micro press, If a Leaf Falls Press, since 2015. 34 pamphlets have been published so far (though more are always being added to the list), with some first publications and work from poets you might not have heard of listed alongside […]

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The Manchester Review

The Japanese House, Gorilla, reviewed by Lydia Walker

The Japanese House: a band that have never been on my radar pops up in an email of new live shows up for reviewing. I conduct a quick Google search and find out that it is in fact the solo project of Buckingham’s Amber Bain. Who is Amber Bain? Turns out she’s collaborated with 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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Ian Pople

Nicholas Murray, A Dog’s Brexit, reviewed by Ian Pople

Nicholas Murray, A Dog’s Brexit (Melos Press, £5.00). Nicholas Murray’s ‘Get Real’ a verse satire on the coalition government was published in his fine book Acapulco, also from William Palmer’s Melos Press. That poem used a modified Burns stanza to show just how hypocritical the coalition was; in all it’s fine rhetoric about balancing books […]

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The Manchester Review

The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks, reviewed by Hannah Bressler

The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks, edited by Peter Kahn, Ravi Shankar, Patricia Smith (University of Arkansas, £18.99). The ‘Golden Shovel’ form was created by Terrance Hayes to honour Gwendolyn Brooks. The rules are simple: 1. Borrow a line from a Gwendolyn Brooks poem, or another poem you admire 2. Use each […]

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Ian Pople

Jorie Graham, Fast, reviewed by Ian Pople

Jorie Graham, Fast, (Carcanet, £12.99). Much is made of Jorie Graham as a ‘phenomenologist’; ‘phenomenology’ being ‘the description of things as one experiences them, or of one’s experiences of things.’ Further distinctions follow, one of which is often the rejection of Descartes’ division of mind and body, and also the rejection of usual distinction of […]

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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

Sounds From the Other City, Salford, reviewed by Luke Healey

The thirteenth annual Sounds From the Other City festival took place on 7 May, once again radiating outwards across Salford from the complex around Islington Mill. This area has continued to develop as an epicentre for the more experimental side of Manchester’s independent scene in the twelve months since the festival’s last installment, with satellite […]

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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

Peter Robinson, Collected Poems 1976-2016, reviewed by Ian Pople

Peter Robinson, Collected Poems 1976-2016 (Shearsman, £19.95). At the start of his preface to The Salt Companion to Peter Robinson, Roy Fisher writes, ‘It’s unusual in English poetry nowadays to find a writer of Peter Robinson’s sophistication occupying himself with what appears, at least, to be autobiography.’ And later, ‘Often the well placed ‘I’ is […]

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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

William Letford, Dirt, reviewed by Lucy Winrow

William Letford, Dirt (Carcanet, £9.99). As you might expect from the compact title of William Letford’s second collection, encounters with dirt are various and persistent throughout. In ‘Purification,’ we meet a hapless individual struggling to function after a night of heavy drinking: “crack open the eyes make fists with feet hangover check negative / stand […]

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The Manchester Review

Luke Wright, The Toll, reviewed by Chloé Vaughan

Luke Wright, The Toll (Penned in the Margins, £9.99). I don’t usually laugh when I read poetry. This is probably because I’m miserable and like to read morose poems. However, I genuinely laughed out loud on the bus when I was reading the ‘Essex Lion’ in Luke Wright’s poetry collection The Toll. This is a […]

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Ian Pople

Thomas Dilworth, David Jones: Engraver, Soldier, Painter, Poet, reviewed by Ian Pople

Thomas Dilworth, David Jones: Engraver, Soldier, Painter, Poet (Jonathan Cape, £25.00). When David Jones suggested that the engraver and painter Eric Gill had ‘a different kind of otherness’ he might quite easily have been writing about himself. As Thomas Dilworth’s subtitle suggests David Jones’ ‘otherness’ took many forms. Kenneth Clark called Jones the painter, ‘absolutely […]

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The Manchester Review

George Saunders, interviewed by James Reith

“This is going to sound very chichi,” Saunders begins, “but I’m at the Beverly Hilton in LA.” He’s trying to find a seat, poolside, away from other people, so that he can talk to me over the phone. With characteristic humour, he’s quick to downplay any notions of book-tour glamour: it’s “combination of joy and […]

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The Manchester Review

Emily Berry, Stranger, Baby, reviewed by Annie Muir

Emily Berry, Stranger, Baby (Faber & Faber, £10.99). Emily Berry’s second collection, Stranger, Baby – published this year by Faber & Faber, is luminous green and hard to put down. Berry’s first book Dear Boy (2013) is, as its title suggests, openly concerned with the nature of address. From the first line of the first […]

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The Manchester Review

Rory Gleeson, Rockadoon Shore, reviewed by Eve Foster

Rory Gleeson, Rockadoon Shore (John Murray, £14.99). Rockadoon Shore, Irish writer Rory Gleeson’s debut novel, makes use of its form somewhat atypically: not only are we presented with a large cast of main characters and relatively few side-characters, but we are allowed inside the heads of all the main characters in a revolving carousel of […]

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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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Ian Pople

Four pamphlets from Rack Press, reviewed by Ian Pople

Kathryn Gray, Flowers; Chris Kinsey, Muddy Fox; Martha Sprackland, Glass as Broken Glass; Rory Waterman, Brexit Day on the Balmoral Estate, (Rack Press, £5.00). Kathryn Gray’s pamphlet Flowers references films from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, to Roger Donaldson’s Cocktail. It also has poems about Bill Hicks and The Killers’ Brandon Flowers, who gives the pamphlet […]

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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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The Manchester Review

Idris Khan, The Whitworth, reviewed by Alicia J. Rouverol

From a distance, Idris Khan’s newly commissioned wall drawing in Whitworth Art Gallery, with its etched, ink-colored surface, resembles something akin to an elongated whorl, or a flattened animal pelt—if on a monumental scale. At closer observation, one discovers the image comprises lines of text, repeated and overlaid, and printed using a rubber stamp. This […]

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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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Ian Pople

Joey Connolly, Long Pass, reviewed by Ian Pople

Joey Connolly, Long Pass (Carcanet, £9.99). Joey Connolly’s first book has elegance and charm to spare. But it also has a huge sense of doubt and a willingness to share that doubt with the world. Its epigraph is from John Ashbery’s Three Poems, and includes the statement ‘Better the erratic approach, which wins all or […]

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The Manchester Review

Josie Long at The Dancehouse Theatre, reviewed by Carl Sheever

Photo by Idil Sukan

Josie Long, ‘Something Better’, The Dancehouse Theatre, February 24 2017. Josie Long, in some ways, had a pretty good 2016. She wrote and starred in her own Radio 4 sitcom, for example (‘Romance and Adventure’); on the other hand, Brexit. It is the latter that fills the bulk of this tour show. Rather than simply […]

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Marli Roode

Youngr, Deaf Institute, reviewed by Marli Roode

The day started in snow and ended in summer. That much you know. Summer was the problem; summer was what got you here, hungover and so opening the doors at every stop on the Metrolink home, trying to breathe in cold air and shuffle events after the gig back into order. Despite the shower, you […]

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The Manchester Review

Marsicans, Deaf Institute, reviewed by Lydia Walker

So I’m asked if I’d like to review this up-and-coming band from Leeds. I’ve admittedly never heard of them and I think, “Why not? Any live music is usually pretty enjoyable.” I agree, and that’s that for a few weeks. The date is approaching and I figure I should listen to some tracks and get […]

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The Manchester Review

Rebecca Watts, The Met Office Advises Caution, reviewed by Lucy Winrow

Rebecca Watts, The Met Office Advises Caution (Carcanet, £9.99), reviewed by Lucy Winrow.   The delicate cover illustration of The Met Office Advises Caution features a tiny figure outside a burning house, clinging to another figure as it floats away. The scene is arranged in a circular pattern of wispy flowers and birds that – […]

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Ian Pople

Ocean Vuong, Night Sky with Exit Wounds and Robyn Schiff, A Woman of Property, reviewed by Ian Pople

Ocean Vuong, Night Sky with Exit Wounds (Copper Canyon Press, $16.00) Robyn Schiff, A Woman of Property (Penguin Poets, $20.00).   Ocean Vuong’s extensive first book emerges one of the most difficult episodes in recent American history, the Vietnam war. Vuong, born in Vietnam, but brought up in the US, explores the legacy of that […]

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Simon Haworth

Thomas McCarthy, Pandemonium, reviewed by Simon Haworth

Thomas McCarthy, Pandemonium (Carcanet, £9.99). On starting to read and approach this new collection of poems by Thomas McCarthy a comment he made in an interview in Poetry Ireland Review (October, 2008) with Catherine Phil MacCarthy came to mind: It is ourselves we nurse. In our poetry we find the asylum that heals us. The […]

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Marli Roode

Bloc Party, Albert Hall, reviewed by Marli Roode

The roof is falling down. Or is it the ceiling? It doesn’t matter. We get what Kele Okereke means. He doesn’t need to be precise. All we know is plaster is coming down, landing on the stage, being held up, cheered. It’s evidence of “rocking hard”. No one rolls their eyes at his conclusion, or […]

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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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