Reviews
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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The Manchester Review

Penguin Modern Poets 1, reviewed by Lucy Burns and Callum Coles

Penguin Modern Poets 1, If I’m Scared We Can’t Win: Emily Berry, Anne Carson, Sophie Collins (Penguin Books, £7.99).   L   I have a few of the Penguin Modern Poets collections from the first series on my shelves, I think maybe the Levertov/Rexroth/Williams and the Corso/Ferlinghetti/Ginsberg, and I vaguely remember paying over the odds for the […]

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Simon Haworth

Ottessa Moshfegh, Homesick For Another World, reviewed by Simon Haworth

Ottessa Moshfegh, Homesick For Another World, (Jonathan Cape, £16.99), 304 pp. This collection of short stories rides quickly off the back of Ottessa Moshfegh’s Booker Prize listed novel Eileen. Many of the stories within her new book share some thematic or tonal DNA and architecture with that novel, if not being quite as generically inclined […]

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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

Jacob Polley, Jackself, reviewed by Joe Carrick-Varty

Jacob Polley, Jackself (Picador, £9.99), 80 pp. Jacob Polley’s new book, Jackself, is a collection of story poems, snippets of conversation, thinking and remembering. The poems are unified by the character of Jackself, a shapeshifter who emerges, along with Jeremy Wren and other members of his gang, to surprise the reader across the collection. Jackself […]

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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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Ian Pople

Christian Wiman, Hammer is the Prayer: Selected Poems, reviewed by Ian Pople

Christian Wiman, Hammer is the Prayer: Selected Poems (Farrar, Strauss and Giraux, $26.00). Towards the beginning of his wonderful prose book, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer, Christian Wiman comments, ‘I grew up in a flat little sandblasted town in West Texas: pumpjacks and pickup trucks, cotton like grounded clouds, a dying strip, […]

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Ian Pople

Ruth Sharman, Scarlet Tiger (Templar Poetry, £10)

Ruth Sharman’s Scarlet Tiger comes some time after her first collection, Birth of the Owl Butterflies; its title poem a second place winner in the Arvon Poetry Competition. In this book too, there are poems about butterflies and Sharman’s father. Indeed the interest in, near obsession with, butterflies is clearly inherited from her father, as […]

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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

Tom French, The Way to Work (Gallery Press, €12.50), reviewed by Ken Evans

Patrick Kavanagh said that, ‘to know fully even one field or one land is a lifetime’s experience.’ In Tom French’s fourth collection from Ireland’s Gallery Press, The Way to Work, the poet homes in (I use the verb advisedly) on a way of life in rural Ireland, that seems almost familiar, to both poet and […]

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The Manchester Review

Peter Sansom, Careful What You Wish For (Carcanet, £9.95), reviewed by Ken Evans

At first sight, the cover of Peter Sansom’s sixth collection, Be Careful What You Wish For, and the poem to which it refers, ‘Lava Lamp’ – a concrete poem simulating, as the poet puts it, the ‘soun dl ess gloo b le/ and gl oop’ of the lamps’ shape-shifting contents –  are experimentally atypical of […]

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Marli Roode

Phantogram, Deaf Institute, reviewed by Marli Roode

I have a really good time at the Phantogram gig. A good time before it – on what could be described as a double date, but shouldn’t be, given the people and the amount of brinkmanship involved – and a good time afterwards (see above re being on a date). It isn’t until I come […]

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The Manchester Review

Billy Bragg and Joe Henry, RNCM, reviewed by Peter Wild

Billy Bragg and Joe Henry, RNCM, 19 November 2016 I want you to think about Superman 2 a moment. Specifically the scene where, having fallen in love with Lois Lane, revealed his true identity and voluntarily stripped himself of his powers, Clark Kent finds himself in a diner on the receiving end of a whupping. […]

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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

Kate Tempest, Let Them Eat Chaos (Picador, £7.99) reviewed by Chloé Vaughan

Kate Tempest’s newest collection of poetry demands to be felt. Let Them Eat Chaos is a book-length poem that begins with the admission, and gentle command, that ‘this poem was written to be read aloud’. Though Let Them Eat Chaos is meant to be read aloud, its performance on the page as a written poem […]

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Ian Pople

Marilyn Hacker, A Stranger’s Mirror: New and Selected Poems 1994-2014 (W.W.Norton, £17.50)

Marilyn Hacker’s A Stranger’s Mirror is an extraordinary book. A book which runs to 288 pages, and which is a selected from just twenty years’ worth of writing. The poems must pour out of Hacker as if there were no tomorrow. And there is a highly charged, highly pressured feel to all of this writing; […]

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The Manchester Review

Ruby Robinson, Every Little Sound (Pavilion Poetry, £9.99), reviewed by Lucy Winrow

The title of Ruby Robinson’s poetry debut is derived from a line within its pages; the notion of paying close attention to “every little sound” appears in “Internal Gain,” a poem that traverses a gamut of sounds from “the conversation downstairs” to “echoes of planets slowly creaking.” The preface provides a definition of this central […]

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