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Wednesday, 11 May 2022

REVIEW: Passion at the Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester

Ruthie’s back and brimming with Passion!

Passion is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Stephen Sondheim was the legend that musical theatre lost late last year at the age of 91. The composer behind the complicated and clever lyrics of Company, Into the Woods and of course West Side Story – to name but a few – was rightly one of the most celebrated names in musical theatre throughout his career, but it is easy to see why his show Passion didn’t really take off like his others.

The story follows a young Italian soldier, Giorgio (played by Dean John-Wilson) who is having an affair with young married girl Clara (Kelly Price) and believes wholly that he is in love with her until the ailing Fosca – a relative of his superior – comes along and begins to pursue him relentlessly. At first, he is flattered and merely tries to ignore the advances made by the older woman, but as he exchanges letters with his mistress back home – staged beautifully as a series of seamlessly integrating songs – the show really starts to beg the question – what exactly is love? Is there a line between adoration and obsession? 

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

REVIEW: From Me To Us at the N.I.A.M.O.S Radical Arts & Cultural Centre in Manchester, presented by Battersea Arts Centre (Online)

The choice to become a parent, for many, is a logical step at some point in a person's life. Whether you are in a committed relationship or single the desire to start a family comes from a primal place. Culturally, we have been conditioned to believe a future with children in it is largely reserved for those in a heterosexual relationship. Either naturally or by other means there is and has been for a long time obtainable options to make this calling a reality for those in this perceived norm. However, If you find yourself in a position where you are single or in a same-sex partnership, biologically your options become far more limited and until very recently the law has stood in the way as an added barrier. 

Performed and written by Wayne Steven Jackson, From Me to Us is the autobiographical tale of a single, homosexual male on the road to becoming a parent despite growing up in a world that told him he had less right to be one than others. In the wake of a shift in the UK law to make single father surrogacy a possibility, It is a one-man show written as an intimate letter to a future child conjured up from what had always been “an impossible story…” and is now a realistic dream.

Performed and filmed at the N.I.A.M.O.S Radical Arts and Cultural Centre in Manchester and presented and streamed online through Battersea Arts Centre, From Me to Us opens to an orderly and simple set consisting of not much more than a single table and chair, black typewriter and clothes rail with six hanging shirts. It is a modest and vulnerable setting made even more so by the pacing and earnest Jackson. It is a space waiting for a child not yet borne but already deeply loved, where time passes and plans can be made. 

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

REVIEW: The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel at HOME, Manchester

Told By An Idiot, The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel is a slapstick, made up story set in 1910, created around a picture with Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin on their way to America as part of Fred Karno’s famous music hall troupe. On this journey, Charlie and Stan shared a cabin and then spent two years together touring North America, with Stan as Charlie’s understudy. This show is a take on their meeting on the boat during this time. 

I went to see this show during its run at the HOME theatre in Manchester. A nice small proscenium arch stage with a 3-tiered seated theatre. Sat in the middle of the stalls I had a fantastic view, but I believe that the view would be good no matter where you sit at this theatre. When you walk into the auditorium the house music is 1920’s type flapper music, setting the feel of the time and the ‘silent movie’ theme.

This show is mainly silent, using quips and slapstick humour from old silent movies for which Charlie Chaplin was famous for. There is no dialogue in the show, the only sound coming from the music, the physical movements and the occasional singing. It took me a moment to get into the silent mode of the show, however once I was in the zone, I found it very compelling and engaging, however I felt that I was taken from this slightly during the random musical singing moments.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

REVIEW: All I See is You at the Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester

We’ve all felt the irresistible pull of love. The sensation that the world could melt away, but if that one person was left behind with you all would be ok. However, what happens when that love is between two men in a world where the law forbids it. That world is our world, 50 years ago when being who you were warranted a prison sentence. 

Bobby spots Ralph and immediately falls in love, but after they’re caught having an intimate encounter by Ralph’s father, Ralph calls it off and they’re forced to live apart leading polar opposite existences. Bobby chooses to follow who he is and ends up dominating the secreted Manchester gay scene, whilst a closeted Ralph pursues his ambition of becoming a school teacher and courting a woman in order to deny his true identity from himself and others. However, when the two men finally see each other again they’re love is instantly reignited and they embark on a passionate affair. But in a world where their love is illegal, it’s only a matter of time before they’re reported, forced into interrogation rooms, maltreated, and talk of jail sentences and aversion therapy arises. 

Thursday, 29 November 2018

REVIEW: Proof at the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester

Proof. That’s all any of us search for as humans. Affirmation. We seek to be validated for our own successes, to prove, in our own personal way, that our own position in society is absolute; and in order to survive we provide proof that we are worthy. However, what happens when your proof gets questioned by the ones who mean the most to you?

David Auburn’s 2001 Pulitzer Prize winning play sees Catherine; the daughter of this generation’s most celebrated mathematician, come to terms with the loss of her father, and the fear she might be succumbing to the same early onset dementia that took him from her; whilst also dealing with her sister Claire flying in from New York to help the post-mortem dust settle and the sudden increased presence at the family home of Hal; her fathers ex student. However, soon enough Catherine’s sanity is started to be questioned by those around her, and her claims of mathematical discovery are challenged as by products of her own mental instability and deemed as her father’s intellectual property and not her own. Through the fractured narrative of flash back, present day and within Catherine’s mind, Auburn takes you on a twisted journey chartering the genial exploration of Catherine’s own sense of self worth, whilst not only questioning how she can prove herself as a mathematician (whilst standing in the shadows of a great,) but also prove her own sanity. 

Friday, 27 July 2018

REVIEW: Fame the Musical at the Palace Theatre, Manchester

After a not so successful production of Fame in 2014, produced by Bill Kenwright, the return of the show was a slight surprise to many in the industry. Selladoor productions haven’t got the best reputation here at pocket, with their productions often slated as cheap and amateurish. However, the bar has been raised with this new production. 

Fame tells the story of a new year beginning at a performing arts school and the challenges they face going through that. Unfortunately, the writing didn’t allow the storylines to really develop very much and a lot of things were skimmed past but the elements that were explored were good and had the audience wrapped around the productions little finger. 

An element that fills me with dread are the two words ‘Actor Musician’. I have seen far too many productions where this is used as a way to avoid spending money and it hasn’t worked but this was very carefully done. Only a few actors play instruments but it’s within the context of the show and showcased the actors amazingly. 

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Cast announced for the Manchester Royal Exchange production of GUYS AND DOLLS

Guys and Dolls, produced with Talawa Theatre Company is being Directed by Michael Buffong. It will be set on the streets of Harlem during one of New York City's 'most significant cultural awakenings'. It will feature the original music from composer and lyricist Frank Loesser.

The cast includes Koko Basigara (Allison), Evonnee Bentley-Holder (Mimi), Nathanael Campbell (Liverlips Louis), Darren Charles (Society Max), Ewen Cummins (Lieutenant Brannigan), Chelsey Emery (Agatha), Ray Fearon (Natahan Detroit), Kurt Kansley (Harry the Horse), Danielle Kassarate (Angie the Fox), Fela Lufadeju (Benny Southwest), Melanie Marshall (General Matilda B.Cartwright), Ako Mitchell (Nicely-Nicely Johnson), Abiona Omonua (Sarah Brown), Javar Parker (Rusty Charlie), Joe Speare (Big Julie), Jaime Tait (Calvin), Toyan Thomas-Browne (Moe), Trevor A Toussaint (Arvide Abernathy), Lucy Vandi (Miss Adelaide), T'shan Williams (Martha) & Ashley Zhangazha (Sky Masterson).
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