Reviews
The Manchester Review

Cornelia Parker: Verso, The Whitworth, reviewed by Danielle Gravon

‘Cornelia Parker has always been attracted to the backs and undersides of things’ the museum wall-text for the exhibition begins. Verso explores a different life of art objects by revealing what is typically unseen. Forty-eight photographs of the backs of hand-sewn button cards hang in six clusters of eight along a narrow gallery on the […]

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The Manchester Review

Kuss Quartet, The Stoller Hall, reviewed by Simon Haworth

Kuss Quartet, The Stoller Hall, 12 October 2017. The Stoller Hall is still so new to Manchester that the distinctive smell of the wood which lines most of the auditorium’s walls subtly pervades its attendant audience. Opened in April this year, the hall is fairly unassuming from the outside as you pass Victoria Station and […]

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The Manchester Review

Manchester Literature Festival: Jon Savage at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, reviewed by Chad Campbell

Jon Savage: Burgess, Punk and the Sex Pistols, introduced by Andrew Biswell, The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, 17 October 2017. Jon Savage moved with Punk to Manchester in the late seventies after the Sex Pistols’ famous ‘76 ‘June Show’ at the Lesser Free Trade Hall; a gig attended by Pistol’s fans (like Steve Morrissey) who […]

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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

Manchester Literature Festival: The Real Story presents Know Your Place, reviewed by David Hartley

The Real Story presents Know Your Place: Gena-mour Barrett, Abondance Matanda, Andrew McMillan & Kit de Waal; International Anthony Burgess Foundation, 9 October 2017. The title of this event, and the book it launches, makes a clear demand of us: not to reflect on our place, not to consider it, but to know it. Taken […]

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The Manchester Review

Manchester Literature Festival: Refugee Tales II: Caroline Bergvall, Kamila Shamsie & Marina Warner, reviewed by Usma Malik

Refugee Tales II: Caroline Bergvall, Kamila Shamsie & Marina Warner; Central Library, 16 October 2017. This is not an actual title of one of the short story collections that make up Comma Press’s Refugee Tales. It’s how I’ve synthesised the message of the stories. In fact, even the phrase ‘short story collection,’ may be slightly misleading. […]

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The Manchester Review

James Womack, On Trust: A Book of Lies, reviewed by Chad Campbell

James Womack, On Trust: A Book of Lies (Carcanet, £9.99). On Trust: A Book of Lies goes out of its way – on the jackets, author biography, and notes – to tell you that none of the book’s contents are true. Or, as the Colonel in the epigraph says, may “not have happened quite this […]

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Maryam Hessavi

Manchester Literature Festival: Elif Shafak & Nadeem Aslam, reviewed by Maryam Hessavi 

Elif Shafak & Nadeem Aslam, hosted by Erica Wagner; Central Library, 15 October 2017. “Where to begin” – was the place at which Erica Wagner initiated the event, setting up the primary concerns and philosophical line of conversation that would formulate an intellectually invigorating and moving discussion between these two powerful writers, Elif Shafak and […]

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Maryam Hessavi

Manchester Literature Festival: The Things I Would Tell You: Elbadawi, Hamid, Osman, Mahfouz, reviewed by Maryam Hessavi      

The Things I Would Tell You: Asma Elbadawi, Nafeesa Hamid, Hibaq Osman and Sabrina Mahfouz, Central Library, 15 October 2017. Hosted by award-winning Sabrina Mahfouz, The Things I Would Tell You event offered insights, experiences and performance from Asma Elbadawi, Nafeesa Hamid and Hibaq Osman, who form part of the twenty-two strong compilation of writers […]

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The Manchester Review

Manchester Literature Festival: The Things I Would Tell You: Elbadawi, Hamid, Osman, Mahfouz, reviewed by Namra Amir

The Things I Would Tell You: Asma Elbadawi, Nafeesa Hamid, Hibaq Osman and Sabrina Mahfouz, Central Library, 15 October 2017. Sabrina Mahfouz is a British Egyptian playwright, poet and screenwriter. As the editor of the anthology “The Things I Would I Tell You”, she warmly greets the crowds and introduces the writers Asma Elbadawi, Nafeesa […]

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The Manchester Review

Manchester Literature Festival: Colette Bryce and Tara Bergin, reviewed by Joe Carrick-Varty

Literature Live: Colette Bryce and Tara Bergin, Martin Harris Centre, 16 October 2017. Monday 16th October, 2017, Manchester saw a red sun and dust blown from Africa, not to mention gale force winds and a few overturned wheelie bins. But somewhere, somewhere deep in the midst of all this chaos a separate storm was brewing. […]

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The Manchester Review

Acosta Danza, The Lowry, reviewed by Hazel Shaw

Acosta Danza, produced by Sadler’s Wells and Valid Productions; The Lowry, 12 October 2017. Carlos Acosta has used his fame and popularity a ballet dancer to turn the spotlight towards the next generation of Cuban dancers through his company Acosta Danza. Their first UK tour brings a taster of their talent and distinctively playful approach […]

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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

Manchester Literature Festival: Will Self at Central Library, reviewed by Henry Cockburn

Will Self, hosted by Alex Clark, Central Library, 10 October 2017. Self lumbers onto the stage dressed in a quasi-uniform of Napoleonic blue and high-throated red, mutters to himself through a jawful of gum, then plays peek-a-boo with the armchair. The effect is of a large off-duty circus monkey. The audience leans in, unsure whether […]

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The Manchester Review

Phil Wang, The Lowry, reviewed by David Firth

Phil Wang, The Lowry, 7 October 2017. With a last name like Wang, it’s likely that most comedians would find it hard to resist a few penis jokes. Phil Wang is no exception, starting the Salford leg of his fourth solo show tour with a heady array of wang-and-wank-related gags. The audience gagged plenty on […]

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The Manchester Review

Manchester Literature Festival: Sinéad Morrissey & Douglas Dunn, reviewed by Sahar Abbas

Sinéad Morrissey & Douglas Dunn, hosted by Vona Groarke; Martin Harris Centre, 9 October 2017. At the Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama, under the Cosmo Rodewald Theatre’s star-filled ceiling, two very special stars themselves – Sinéad Morrissey and Douglas Dunn – recited poems of undeniable truth and sheer honesty from their new collections, […]

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The Manchester Review

Manchester Literature Festival: Malika Booker at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, reviewed by Maryam Hessavi

Malika Booker; International Anthony Burgess Foundation, 8 October 2017. If you didn’t make the Malika Booker event last night, you missed a truly magical theatre production of the imagination; full of the wilderness, the natural world, animals masquerading as political figures, Lazarus rising for ‘more fire’ (!), and women letting ‘citrus oils into the wind’… Malika […]

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The Manchester Review

The Hallé at the Bridgewater Hall, reviewed by Simon Haworth

The Hallé at the Bridgewater Hall, conducted by Sir Mark Elder; 5 October 2017. Opening The Hallé’s 2017-18 season at The Bridgewater Hall, and their 160th season overall, is a program consisting of Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Stravinsky’s The Firebird, performed in its entirety. Not […]

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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

Bladerunner 2049, dir. Denis Villeneuve, reviewed by David Hartley

I admit to a certain level of despair when reboot culture caught up with Blade Runner and this sequel was announced. I’d long held the original close as a piece of cinematic perfection; science fiction at its absolute zenith; a flawed gem, endlessly fascinating and, in its various iterations, strangely mercurial. But in the intervening […]

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The Manchester Review

Joanna Walsh, Worlds from the Word’s End reviewed by Nell Osborne

Joanna Walsh, Worlds from the Word’s End (And Other Stories, £8.99). With a relatively small output, Joanna Walsh has carved herself a place as one of the UK’s most innovative and influential writers. Her fans include writers such as Chris Kraus and Deborah Levy. She is also prescient cultural critic. She edits 3:AM magazine and […]

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The Manchester Review

Manchester Literature Festival: Jon McGregor at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, reviewed by Tessa Harris

Jon McGregor, Reservoir 13; The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, 7 October 2017. “One of the things for me, about this book,” Jon McGregor explains before he starts the performance “is not to explain things…to people.” He doesn’t get the laugh he deserves. The audience is mostly anxiously clutching smartphones and muttering things like I don’t […]

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The Manchester Review

Stephen Romer, Set Thy Love In Order: New & Selected Poems, reviewed by Chad Campbell

Stephen Romer, Set Thy Love In Order: New & Selected Poems, (Carcanet, £12.99). Is Steve Romer a love poet? How much did his move from England to France in the eighties influence his style? If we’re to take him at his word, he doesn’t “feel part of any French tradition, except perhaps an earlier one…that […]

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The Manchester Review

Circa Survive, The Amulet, reviewed by Simon Haworth

Circa Survive, The Amulet (Hopeless Records, 2017). Signs for this record, the sixth studio album from Philadelphia’s Circa Survive, were looking more than good ever since they began releasing teaser tracks in the summer, four in total: ‘Lustration’, ‘Rites of Investiture’, ‘The Amulet’ and ‘Premonition of the Hex’. The consistency and excellence of those releases […]

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The Manchester Review

Chris Kraus, After Kathy Acker: A Biography, reviewed by NJ Stallard

An Evening With Chris Kraus, in conversation with Kaye Mitchell; Waterstone’s, Deansgate, September 27, 2017. “Hope not 2 offend but if I die please dont let the frenemy w whom I shared a bf read my diaries & write my biog” wrote artist Jesse Darling, in a recent tweet, regarding the launch of Chris Kraus’s […]

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Ian Pople

Bill Knott, I Am Flying Into Myself: Selected Poems 1960-2014, reviewed by Ian Pople

Bill Knott, I Am Flying Into Myself: Selected Poems 1960-2014, edited with an introduction by Thomas Lux (Farar, Straus and Giroux, $28.00). In his introduction to Bill Knott’s Selected, Thomas Lux comments that Knott’s first book, Nights of Naomi was ‘straight from the surrealist manifestos, but entirely his own. The poems are violent, dark and […]

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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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Ian Pople

Robert Lowell, New Selected Poems, reviewed by Ian Pople

Robert Lowell, New Selected Poems, ed. Katie Peterson (Faber, £14.99). If you came to poetry in the sixties and seventies, you came to Robert Lowell. His volume, Life Studies, seemed to dominate the perspective on poetry, in the way that The Whitsun Weddings, Crow or Ariel did, in their own way. One way in which […]

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The Manchester Review

Sarah Tierney, Making Space, reviewed by Tom Patterson

Sarah Tierney, Making Space (Sandstone, £8.99). Making Space is a strong debut novel from University of Manchester alumnus Sarah Tierney. It features Manchester’s Northern Quarter bars, rainy streets and converted Victorian housing in a way that moves beyond signposting without simply being a love letter to a time and a place. It was very easy […]

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Ian Pople

Ian Parks, Citizens, reviewed by Ian Pople

Ian Parks, Citizens (Smokestack Books, £7.99). Over the years, Ian Parks has produced about a dozen books and pamphlets, from a variety of publishers. His shtick seems to be to have a new book out with a new publisher. But that variety of publisher never seems to diminish or dilute the quality of Parks’ writing, […]

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The Manchester Review

Edward Doegar, For Now and Rebecca Tamás, Savage (Clinic Press), reviewed by Annie Muir

Two strikingly presented new pamphlets have been published by Clinic this year – Edward Doegar’s For Now with its bold misaligned capitals and Rebecca Tamás’s Savage with its inverted abstract countryside scene. Fifteen and nine poems respectively, both offer a one-sitting-sized taste of their author’s main concerns. Doegar’s first poem ‘Anon’ begins: I don’t want […]

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Ian Pople

John Singer Sargent, The Watercolours, Dulwich Picture Gallery, reviewed by Ian Pople

John Singer Sargent, The Watercolours, Dulwich Picture Gallery, 21 June – 8 October 2017. This is not the first exhibition of Sargent’s watercolours; a little fossicking around on the web will find you a YouTube video of comparable exhibitions in Houston and Boston. So, why is it that a painter known mostly for his turn-of-the-twentieth-century […]

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The Manchester Review

Tara Bergin, The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx, reviewed by Chloé S. Vaughan

Tara Bergin, The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx (Carcanet Press, £9.99). It’s been four years since Tara Bergin’s debut collection This is Yarrow hit shelves and deservedly snagged both the 2014 Seamus Heaney Award and 2014 Shine/Strong Poetry Award. In this brief absence, Bergin has not merely been looking out of her office window for […]

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The Manchester Review

Three pamphlets, reviewed by Ian Pople

Julie Mellor, Out of the Weather (Smith Doorstep, £5.00); Nigel Pantling, Kingdom Power Glory (Smith Doorstop, £9.95); Nicki Heinen, Itch (Eyewear Lorgnette Series, £6.00). In Julie Mellor’s poem ‘Propolis’, she writes ‘In truth, it’s not propolis I’m talking about,/ but those unwanted spaces where words land and rest’. There’s an interesting mixing of metaphor here. […]

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The Manchester Review

Bluedot: Frank Cottrell Boyce and Geoff White, reviewed by Usma Malik

Frank Cottrell Boyce and Geoff White; Bluedot, Jodrell Bank Observatory, Orbit stage, July 8 2017. Just as science and theory offer endless opportunities to invent and reinvent stories, so do our existing narratives, and the ‘What if?’ question pops up again, this time in Frank Cottrell Boyce’s incredibly entertaining talk. Stories? He queries. Oh, stories, […]

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