2019: End-of-year theatre review

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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Plant Fetish

HOME Theatre, Manchester; Thursday 28th November, 2019

Silk Photography, Chanje Kunda

 

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 »

I’m a Phoenix, Bitch

HOME Theatre, Manchester; Wednesday 27th November, 2019

IAPB_4

 

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 »

The Shadow

HOME Theatre, Manchester; Friday 22nd November, 2019

TheShadow_2

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 »

Seagulls

The Octagon Theatre at Bolton Library and Museum; Wednesday 30th October, 2019

Seagulls_1

 

We are Seagulls – not “The Seagulls”, just Seagulls, without the word “The”. We are scavengers: we will pick up the scraps of human life and turn them into musical art.

Seagulls by American writer Beth Hyland is a coming-of-age saga that follows four university students who harbour aspirations of fame and stardom. Coming together to start a new band, their hard work sees them rapidly develop into an exciting musical prospect: very quickly they find themselves winning local talent competitions, could they really be on the road to fulfilling their wildest dreams and making it big?Read More »

Light Falls

The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester; Tuesday 29th October, 2019

08 RET LIGHT FALLS - L-R Lloyd Hutchinson, Witney White, Rebecca Manley, Katie West & David Moorst - Image Manuel Harlan

 

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The northern star leads back to me

Christine has met her end. She saw it all play out and has the precise details of how it happened: it was a Monday, in February, 2017, it was twelve minutes to five in the afternoon.Read More »

Nuclear Future

The Lowry, Salford; Thursday 24th October, 2019

NuclearFuture_4

Is the future nuclear? Or are we in the nuclear age already? It’s all so hidden away and elusive, we only ever seem to hear about it when it goes badly wrong. But what about the bit that is really (and deliberately) hidden away: what will actually happen if a nuclear bomb were to be detonated?

Nuclear Future by Gameshow Theatre is a mysterious solo show that sets about exploring a very peculiar philosophical paradox: how can something be so small that you can’t even see it – yet also be capable of instantaneously unleashing something so big that your mind can’t even imagine it.Read More »