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 »
HOME Theatre, Manchester; Wednesday 13th November, 2019
Someone’s gonna cry
If you say goodbye
Someone’s tears will fall in vain
They’re gonna fall, fall, fall, fall, fall, like rain
And who’s tears will they be
Someone’s gonna cry
But not me. There is no fucking way I’m gonna cry this time. I’ve been in several abusive (performance <-> audience) relationships before, no matter how many times they play that song on loop I WILL NOT CRY.
It’s a nice enough song, quite catchy. But by the third or fourth time it’s looped around, you just want it to stop – and exactly the same can be said for the whole performance.Read More »
The Octagon Theatre at Bolton Library and Museum; Wednesday 30th October, 2019
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 »
The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester; Tuesday 29th October, 2019
Please stay in touch with me
In this contactless society
Anywhere that you may be
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 »
The Lowry, Salford; Thursday 24th October, 2019
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 »
HOME Theatre, Manchester; Wednesday 23rd October, 2019
Two years ago, writer, director and performer Javaad Alipoor dived deep undercover into the darkest corners of the internet in a bold quest to understand what was driving the online radicalisation of young men.
Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran is the second part of what will eventually become a theatrical trilogy – one which seeks to assess the impact of humanity’s head-first tumble into the digital age. Read More »