Here are the top three shows from two of our senior reviewers Max Eden and Nicky Lambert who are based in the North West region.
Just making my top three is Brief Encounter at The Lowry, this is a show that moved on to the West End and it’s not hard to see why, I loved he way they used the auditorium as the cinema in the scene with cast members sitting with the public; I loved the clever the stage design that connected with moving walkways and how imaginative the whole production was; they turned a timeless movie into something which stopped time altogether and just left you in awe.
Blackadder Goes Forth at the Altrincham Garrick was a piece so professional and slick that you would have believe you were watching it on the West End and paying 10 times the ticket price; the acting was stellar, the set design was detailed and the way the show was adapted to stage was nothing short of genius. Don’t get me started on that final ‘over the tops’ scene - such a fitting tribute to the brave who lost their lives in the First World War.
The top place for me goes to Sting’s wonderfully poignant ‘The Last Ship’ which tells the story of a community of shipbuilders and their families and the battle to finish one last ship after the shipping yard is threatened with closure; the cast were phenomenal and the staging was so intricate and clever that a final scene became so moving that you couldn’t help but get emotional. The score by Sting is masterful and portrays the spirit and passion of the characters.
Not being a huge fan of tribute groups, I was ambivalent towards the evening - until 5 seconds after the show began and then I was completely hooked and didn't want it to end. An absolutely dynamic performance from all those involved, completely enveloping the audience. We weren't seeing a Take That tribute band, we were seeing Take That. Every tiny detail was honed to perfection and it was a powerful, show stopping evening from start to finish.
This was a one man show at a small and intimate venue and I was sitting on the front row so it felt very real indeed. The acting and writing were perfection and the audience emotion was palpable. We hung on to every word of Darren Scott in both of the roles that he played. The set and the props were judged well and couldn't have been better. This performance by Darren Scott is perhaps one of the most moving and compelling that I have seen, he was absolutely convincing in both roles. A totally unforgettable evening which is still strong in my memory.
This show took my breath away. The intensity and drama, not to mention the emotion it invoked were quite simply - well, breath-taking! It gave me shivers down my spine because of the way the sinister tension built and the constant underlying feeling of threat and menace. Not a light-hearted musical (although there are occasional lighter moments) and not one that you come away from feeling happy but you certainly come away with an abiding feeling that you have just seem something very special. The individual performances by everyone were award winning.