It never fails to amaze me and, to a large extent, impress me that certain shows carrying a centrally gay theme or message seem to attract something more than merely an audience which includes, as you might expect, a large proportion of gay people. Indeed that might be expected but I often feel when visiting these shows that there is something more than that. There often seems to be a loyal following and an air of support from such audiences which you wouldn’t get at a production of Hamlet. Those of you familiar with a certain Manchester based fringe company might understand what it is I am waffling on about so hopefully you’ll understand that the same positive atmosphere pervaded last night’s audience of Park Theatre’s national tour of Boys in the Band at Lowry’s Quays Theatre.

Circa Tsuica is the musical offspring of the French group Cheptal Aleikoum who met over ten years ago at the Centre National des Arts du Circue in France and when not touring, live together in a small community in Saint Agil, in the West of France. Opus 7 is the creation of Circa Tsuica and produced by Cheptal Aleikoum and features seven performers tonight, Franck Bodin, Maxime Mestre, Tom Neal, Oliver Pasquet, Matthias Renau, Lola Renard and Camille Secheppet.

There have been many a stage version of The Wind in the Willows over the years but this current incarnation currently playing at the Lowry is probably the biggest and most spectacular to date. It would appear no expense has been spared on this production which has dreams of heading to the West End.

"Waiting Room" is a one man, one act play written by David Coggins. The poster promoting it was a very artistic photograph of (presumably) Piccadilly Station which drew my interest immediately.

As we entered the auditorium at The King's Arms, the actor (Sam Grogan) was already on stage, sitting on a bench, hands on knees, looking deep in thought.   The backing noise was suggestive of a station.

Last night, Unlimited Theatre spent nearly an hour exploring the process of death onstage, and it was, at the same time, both everything and nothing like I expected.

 

Am I Dead Yet?, created and performed by Jon Spooner and Chris Thorpe, is an examination of the process of death, how people can be brought back from the dead, and what should even count as death in an age where science and machines can perform incredible miracles.

This may be impossible to believe but up until tonight I had never read or seen a production of Pride and Prejudice. This is probably largely due to the fact that I didn’t go to school in the UK. So I was probably one of the few audience members with no previous conception of the story, or what was going to happen.

Picture the scene. What seems like thousands upon thousands of screaming children waiting with eager anticipation for their idols to come on stage, you could be forgiven for thinking you were at Take That concert circa 1994. In reality it’s the 9th October 2016 and we are in the Lyric Theatre in Salford’s The Lowry and the noise and excitement makes it difficult to believe that the capacity is only 1730. That’s 1730 extremely excited people waiting to Daniel Middleton.

Dancing and theatre are two of my favourite things and tonight I had the pleasure of watching the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Company which successfully combined both.

The Alvin Ailey dance company was formed in 1958 by choreographer, Alvin Ailey and changed the perception of African-American dance. The company has performed in 71 countries to 25 million people.

Set in the 1960s, ‘Be My Baby’ tells the story of a group of girls in a mother and baby convent. Back then a woman’s reputation would be ruined if she were to have a baby outside wedlock. So the girls were whisked away to the convent to hide their pregnancy from the outside world. The story focuses on four different girls and how they come to terms with their pregnancy and realising that they will soon have to give the baby away.

As part of Rambert’s 90th anniversary celebrations (they are Britain’s oldest dance company, founded in 1926 by Marie Rambert), the company returned to The Lowry for another The Future event, the first having premiered last year. The Future was an eclectic mix of new dance work from up-and-coming choreographers, working with either their own or Rambert’s dancers.

This production gave out some very confusing messages, and I left feeling underwhelmed by the whole experience. Allow me to start at the beginning. Nelson Mandela, hero of the black South African people, freedom fighter and legend. We all have heard of him right? And you would have thought that if any company could do his life history justice it would be a company from his own country, in this case Cape Town Opera Company. One of the problems here was that the parts of Mandela's life which the company chose to highlight were not the ones which have gone down in history, not the ones we all remember… save a couple of iconic images of him speaking at rallies and the speech he gave upon his release from prison. To obfuscate this further, then over the course of the opera we were given three different Mandela’s (one for each act) and two different Winnies. It all got a bit confusing and unnecessary. I really didn't understand the need for this at all.