Is it just me or is everyone suffering from too much Shakespeare and Shakespeare-related theatre? Celebrating the life and commemorating the death of arguably England's greatest dramatist is indeed a noble and worthy cause, and it is quite incredible just how many companies have jumped on this particular bandwagon this year. However, I had, until now, yet to see a ballet company's take on the Bard.
An intimate staging in the round at St Mary’s Park in Eccles was the setting for this production written by Katie Douglas in the Roundabout pop-up Auditorium. This was a joint production from Paines Plough and Half Moon. Prior to the show the actors chat with audience members and practice high fives.
I’ve never seen the film version of Shawshank Redemption but hear it’s quite good. I hope that being able to say that I’ve seen the stage version instead may alleviate the feeling of embarrassment one gets during those awkward painful conversations when admitting that such cultural behemoths such as The Shawshank Redemption film and the Great British Bake Off has passed by without my attention.
My Big Fat Job Seekers Wedding is a laugh out loud comedy following a family living on benefits on a council estate. The mother of the family; Nelly has recently left her husband and wants to enjoy being single. From the beginning the cast had the audience on their side, the house erupted with laughter at every gag.
The Birmingham Stage Company present “Gangsta Granny Live On Stage!” Neal Foster adapted and directed this best-selling book by David Walliams for the stage with the help of a fantastic cast.
Football is a part of Manchester’s culture. To it fan’s it’s a religion, it’s a way of life and in Manchester you either a red or a blue. MaD Theatre Company are definitely Manchester United fans and have decided to create a comedic tale inspired by the formation of the FC United Club and its rise to recognition. Single mother of five Marilyn has been stood up on a blind date at a local curry house in Rusholme. However things take a turn when she hears two gentlemen discussing about creating the first United FC. From there, with the addition of multimedia and live footage of football matches we follow Marilyn and her collective of friends, family and club organisers as their club rise to stardom.
This morning I watched The Gruffalo’s Child at the Lowry which is the sequel to the story of the Gruffalo. I found it very funny and a pleasure to watch, the nine-year-old I was accompanied by also agreed that it was a very good performance.
With its small cast of just three actors, The Gruffalo’s Child tells the story of how the eponymous ‘Gruffalo’s child,’ played by Sophie Alice, wants to go into the ‘deep dark wood’ to explore. However, her father- The Gruffalo played by Andrew Mudie, tries to stop her adventurous feelings by telling her how dangerous the wood is, this done by singing a lovely light hearted song about what gruffalo’s can do, but what they shouldn’t do is ‘go into the deep dark wood.’ I would like to comment here that I thought all the cast members had wonderful singing voices and their vocals blended well together.
Despite some limited success on The West End, Charlotte Jones' play In Flame is really rather poorly crafted, and only tips the iceberg in terms of character development, and so it was a rather odd choice of play for newly formed Unnamed Theatre Company to bring to the Manchester Fringe as one of the first plays after the huge Summer Fringe Festival.
HMS Pinafore is a comic Opera in two Acts and was Gilbert & Sullivan's first international sensation in 1878. As with all Gilbert & Sullivan productions, it is a bit of an insane storyline with their trademark use of clever word play in the songs. It is the story of love between social classes. It makes fun of the British class system and has a pop at patriotism, party politics and the rise of unqualified people to positions of authority. (Just imagine what a field day Gilbert & Sullivan would have if they were alive today – particularly in view of our current political upheaval...!)
A one hour, one act play by Jane McNulty and presented by House Of Orphans, this bitter-sweet comedy tells the very human story of aging house-bound Button (Cathy Breeze) and her girlfriend of 14 years, the slightly anal and put-upon demure Veronica (Tigga Goulding).
For the past 14 years they have lived together in a Council flat which is now being knocked-down for redevelopment and so are being re-housed in a bungalow ("is it on ground level?") in a cul-de-sac in Little Hulton. Boxes are everywhere, and fill the stage, even hanging from the ceiling. The only two things not boxed already being a comfy armchair and a small table.
4 actors, 130 roles, 100 minutes!
Adapted from the novel by John Buchan and subsequent film by Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps has arrived at the Lowry this week bringing this classic thriller to the Salford stage with copious amounts of laughs and some absolutely stunning performances all played on a simple but impressive set.
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