The first question I asked myself after leaving the Lowry tonight was “why have I not seen The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” before now? I have been fortunate enough to witness some very special evenings in theatres across the country over the years, but tonight this show catapulted itself into my top 3 shows of all time. It was mesmerising, clinically executed and a technical triumph!

Graham Fellows was in his late twenties when he first presented “Sheffield’s versatile singer-songwriter” John Shuttleworth in 1986. Now, thirty years later, he is himself older than the character he portrays. Rather like Al Murray’s Pub landlord or Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge, John Shuttleworth has taken on a life of his own, and his crushingly banal existence has been the subject of radio and TV series, as well as numerous successful live shows, of which this is the latest.

Massive Owl present “a distortion of the film Stand by Me”, part of the new WTF Wednesdays at The Lowry. These regular nights offer a space for performances that don’t easily fit categorisation, a platform which Castle Rock definitely suit. It is very difficult to define what this hour performance entailed, but having said that, there were parts that were to be enjoyed.

Toes were a-tapping and laughs a-plenty at the Lowry Chorale as Montana-based Comedian Rich Hall delighted crowds with music, undeniable wit, and his very special audience interaction.

 

The Quays Theatre at Salford Lowry was well attended and the show consisted of a stand-up first half and Hall’s Hoedown Band in the second. Hall is a regular on panel shows such as Have I Got News For You, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and QI and but these shows do not really allow his deadpan and absurdist irony to shine through; tonight certainly did.

Vertigo Productions are known for producing mainly comical shows such as Porno Chic and Murder She Writes, therefore I was intrigued to see their latest production; Black Ice which is largely a dramatic plot.

 

Black Ice tells the story of the Harrison brothers; Bill (Stuart Reeve) and Jonathan (Andy Pilkington) and their upbringing. From the very beginning we see that there is tension between the siblings and clearly there is some unfinished business between them.

There will be few unfamiliar with the 1968 musical adventure film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which features a dilapidated old racing car, left to rot in an old garage and a much loved plaything for Jemima and Jeremy Potts, children of widowed Caractacus Potts. (Jason Manford). Tonight the stage version at the Lyric Theatre at the Lowry, Salford is delighting an almost capacity audience of all ages, although possibly being a school night the majority are adults, or maybe it's just the big kid in us all reliving a childhood favourite!

I now somehow feel that another piece of my cultural knowledge jigsaw has been completed. The Red Shoes is a ballet, based on a 1948 British film, which itself was based on a Hans Christian Andersen story all bearing the same name; but having never read the story nor seen the film, I have now, at least, seen this - the World Premiere of Sir Matthew Bourne's newest creation; his ballet adaptation of that film.

As the audience were taking their seats for choreographer Arthur Pita’s The Little Match Girl we were treated to charming accordion music played by Tim Van Eyken. The musician played music live throughout as well as creating wonderful soundscapes for difference scenes. As the lights came down he wound a small music box and the show began.

Tonight, at the Lowry Theatre Studio we were entertained by the dazzling Ian Cook, Adam Davies, Eleni Edipidi and Jennifer Essex who collectively make up Tmesis Theatre. This thought provoking, fast paced, comedy explored the vulgarity and stupidity of our 21st century fixation with happiness and success.

As one approached the theatre this evening the throbbing repeated sound of a drum beat was heard, and as I got closer I was able to watch two Chinese Dragons dancing to a Chinese drum rhythm outside the theatre welcoming guests and entertaining passers-by. This was delightful and so unexpected, but a wonderful idea and really put one in the right frame of mind.

Celebrating their second Young Carers Day, Salford Young Carers joined with The Lowry to produce two pieces. The first, ‘Behind Closed Doors’ was devised and performed by young carers from Salford Young Carers and young people from Gorse Hill Studios in Trafford, alongside creative practitioners from Stone Group. ‘Behind Closed Doors’ was a prelude to ‘Who Cares?’ which was performed by professional actors and created by LUNG theatre company. These two pieces were made possible by the Lowry Christmas Appeal 2015.