HOME Theatre, Manchester; Saturday 14th March, 2020
In January 2020, the celestial conjunction of Pluto and Saturn ushered forth the auspicious dawn of a new air from Uranus. So said Figs In Wigs’ resident astrologer – a mystical prophet who seems to have also decreed that theatrical tradition should best be dealt with by repeatedly shafting a literary classic with the ravenous lust of performance artistry.
The opening scene of Little Wimmin is an eerily cosmic experience involving god-like super beings of profound awesomeness; ‘scene’ is probably the wrong word: instead it seems to be more like an imprecise epoch of heightened uncertainty and disorientation – one which deftly sets the general tone for the rest of the evening.
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The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester; Thursday 27th February, 2020
The year is 2020, the place is Manchester – but this is nothing like the Manchester of 2020 as we currently know it.
The Party For the People has taken power and society is split: there are those who conform and dictate; and those who have no choice but to rise up and break free – no matter what the cost.
This is a truly hellish nightmare: the genuine 24-hour party peoples of Manchester have been suppressed and oppressed by a set of establishment cranks who have rubbed salt in the wound by literally naming themselves “The Party For the People”.
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The Coliseum Theatre, Oldham; Tuesday 25th February, 2020
Seventeen-year-old Oldham lad Jack is a young man who seems destined to be going places. His parents have made big plans for him – and they’re willing to push hard against anything that stops him from getting there.
But when young Jack is violently attacked by the family of his own girlfriend, his parents realise with great shock and horror that their carefully crafted world of closeted safety is about to be suddenly and permanently thrown into utter chaos.
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HOME Theatre, Manchester; Saturday 15th February, 2020
In 1880, an international conference of deaf educators held in Milan, Italy decreed that, due to the “incontestable superiority of articulation over signs”, deaf students should not be taught sign language and they should instead be given the chance to conform by only ever learning to lip read.
A decision made by 164 attendees – of whom only one was actually deaf themselves, and which also included one very surprising famous name – went on to have profound consequences for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community globally.
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The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester; Wednesday 12th February, 2020
If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger. Emily Brontë
Nearly two centuries have passed since it was first published but Emily Brontë’s one and only novel Wuthering Heights still stands alone as the go-to benchmark for any twisted expression of all-consuming passion and uncontrollable obsession.
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2019 for The Greater Manchester Reviewer has been a story of 71 different shows across 24 different venues. Highlight of the year was undoubtedly the decision to immerse fully into the GM Fringe Festival in July, an action rewarded by exposure to the raw energy that gives rise to creative performance. As well as that, there have been some excellent touring productions and some impressive examples of new writing.
Here’s a very personal take on the best performances that have been on in Greater Manchester this year …
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HOME Theatre, Manchester; Thursday 28th November, 2019
Chanje Kunda has had enough: she’s been inquisitively scrolling through all the usual social media feeds and it’s basically just a joke. Everyone seems to be banging on about how they’re living their best lives: e.g. teaching orphaned panda bears how to read English as a foreign language on a tropical beach and all that; it seems that everything these days needs to be liked, shared or commented upon.
But Chanje says she is a skint, sexless, single mother and therefore she’s not having it – none of that digital peacocking on Facebook applies to her in any way, she lives in the real world and needs to just get on with it.Read More »
HOME Theatre, Manchester; Wednesday 27th November, 2019
Bryony Kimmings made a cracking start to the year 2015. As her stage entrance to “I’m A Phoenix, Bitch” suggests, the old Bryony was all ASOS sequin dresses, high heels and lots and lots and lots of glamour. But by the following year a perfect storm of convergent personal events involving home, partner and child had left her spiralling into an all-time-low tailspin – with terrifying consequences.Read More »
HOME Theatre, Manchester; Friday 22nd November, 2019
Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”
– Carl Jung
The opening scenes of Company Chameleon’s ambitious new work The Shadow are a tense and unsettling experience. A man sits on a chair, thinking, pondering. He is joined by a troupe of energetic dancers – everyone is so casually dressed, as if they’re just going about their daily business.
But they are not alone, emerging suddenly from the darkness are six sinister figures, dressed in black from head to toe, including a full, black head mask. The initial, visual impact is one of horror, the sombre violin composition adding even more nervous energy and uncomfortable tension.
It takes several minutes to settle the nerves and gradually deduce that the menacing sextet are menacing only in visual appearance. These are The Shadows, one to accompany each of the real-world dancers.Read More »
The Bridge Tavern, Manchester; Thursday 21st November, 2019
The women: they come for the drink; but they stay for the love …
Pub landlord Bobby Braithwaite (Daryn Gates) is running a boozer in Didsbury, but being regional only gets you so far these days – Bobby has bigger plans, he’s lining up a big-money bid for a pub in Bethnal Green.
His early, brief monologues to the audience in A Swift Half reveal that this is a man who has, in many ways, made it – yet he wants more. He came to Manchester wanting to be a rock star, instead he’s having to make do with a pub – probably not too bad a second prize in the overall scheme of things.Read More »