REVIEW: Tank (HOME, Manchester)

Tank by Breach Theatre Company at HOME, Manchester until 6 May 2017
Tank by Breach Theatre Company at HOME, Manchester until 6 May 2017
upstaged rating: 

“Don’t even think in your own language. English, all the time!” says Margaret Lovatt, a volunteer researcher in a NASA-funded project to teach Peter, a dolphin how to mimic and understand English.

Led by John C Lilly, a neuroscientist at the California Institute of Technology, a dolphinarium was built and communication ‘training’ started. In a series of communication experiments – Margaret would live with Peter for ten weeks in isolation on the first floor of the flooded laboratory in an attempt to teach him English.

This series of events actually happened in the 1960’s and was later made into a BBC documentary, The Girl Who Talked to Dolphins, which formed the inspiration for this bizarre but nevertheless captivating performance piece from Breach Theatre.

Part verbatim. Part satire. Part experiment with narrative. The only tape recordings of the experiments are fragmented and sodden (they have to be baked before they can be heard) which means that the four performers construct the details in the story as it plays in front of the audience. They interrupt and argue over the details in the story – filling in the gaps as they go. The two male performers seem to get highly enthused by the woman-masturbates-dolphin narrative but the female performers stand their ground aligning the relationship akin to that between a farmer and his cattle.

Breach have expanded an incredibly rich metaphor in Tank. Both Peter the dolphin and Margaret the volunteer were positioned in the midst of an awkward situation. Remembering the social backdrop of the 1960’s – the dolphin whose needs are inferior to those demands of a human; together with the woman who is seen as subservient to a male scientist. Tank is about colonisation. Intelligently, Breach fire up the synapses and leave the audience to explore the themes and their beliefs around this themselves.

Funny, dark and brilliantly pitched. Breach’s use of sound, film and stylised movement all contribute in exposing the result of legitimising our actions against others in the name of science, humanity and the struggle for power.

-Kristy Stott

Tank runs at HOME, Manchester until Saturday 6th May 2017 and you can get your tickets here.

 

REVIEW: My Country; A Work in Progress (HOME, Manchester)

© Sarah Lee
© Sarah Lee
reviewer: Megan Hyland
upstaged rating: 

In the wake of the political chaos of Brexit and the overhanging general election, My Country; a work in progress offered an insightful look at the divided opinions of our society. Unfortunately, it failed to deliver. Written by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, the play centres around six regions of Great Britain coming together to form a meeting in anticipation of the vote to leave or remain in the European Union. They bring with them the views and opinions of several people from their respective regions, in the hope that their voices will be heard. Taken from real interviews, these voices range from a 13-year-old boy from Wales to an 88-year-old immigrant in the East Midlands.

Penny Layden stars as Britannia, our disheartened and shaken country struggling to cope with the disconnections that divide it. Representing Westminster, Layden effortlessly portrays the politicians that lead us through Brexit and the aftermath of the vote. However, it is Christian Patterson that offers the most engaging performance as Cymru. His remarkable transitions between various characters are the most noteworthy, with each one coming to life individually. The enthusiasm with which he plays each character is admirable, although, the cast as a whole still gives a commendable performance. They work in tandem together to create a seamless and often astonishingly humorous performance. Their incredible effort and ability does not go unnoticed in this production, with their dynamic being a testament to the unity that the play aims to promote.

However, it seemed that perhaps an additional cast member was lacking, as although the play promotes itself as representing the views of the country as a whole, there was a lack of representation on stage for the North West. Particularly as the performance took place in this region, it seemed unusual not to have it mentioned.

Nevertheless, it is the unbiased and relatively diverse presentation of views in the play that make it particularly appealing. It offers the unfiltered, unflinching opinions of the general public on perhaps the most widely discussed topic of the past year. And although some of the words spoken are particularly hard-hitting and heavy in nature, Carol Ann Duffy’s wonderful wit and dry humour lighten the tone perfectly.

Unfortunately, as a whole, My Country fell short of expectations. There was an overhanging sense that it could have gone further with certain aspects, and disappointingly, there was no overall message to be taken away, giving the play as a whole no sense of closure. However, the talent of the cast is undoubtable, as is the incredible writing of Carol Ann Duffy.

-Megan Hyland

My Country runs at home until Saturday 22nd April 2017 and you can get your tickets here.

REVIEW: Narvik (HOME, Manchester)

Narvik presented by Box of Tricks Theatre - press pic 10 (102) - Nina Yndis as Lucya, and Joe Shipman as Jim Callaghan. Pic by Decoy Media
guest reviewer: Megan Hyland
upstaged rating: 

In Narvik, Lizzie Nunnery has written a beautifully harrowing production, produced by Manchester-based theatre company Box of Tricks. The play – described by Nunnery as “a play with songs” – opens with 90-year-old Jim Callaghan suffering a fall in his home, and tells the story of what led him there. Flashback to World War Two, and Jim, a Liverpudlian fisherman docks in Oslo, where he meets the charming Else. Their story unfolds as Jim goes away to work as a radio operator on a Navy ship, and through the struggles of war and the horrors that he sees; the one thing that keeps him going is his memories of Else. His journey to get back to her is as captivating as it is tragic.

Joe Shipman stars as the buoyant and pragmatic Jim, giving an utterly outstanding performance. He displays faultless range, showing both the excitement of Jim’s youth and the fear felt in his old age. We see Jim falling in love, going to war and gripped by horrifying memories, which Shipman carries through seamlessly, giving an honest and powerful performance. But perhaps the core element in the play’s success in telling such an engaging story is the dynamics of the cast. Starring alongside Shipman is Nina Yndis as the endearing Else and Lucas Smith as Kenny, Jim’s closest friend on the ship. Yndis and Shipman captivate the audience with the sincere and youthful love story of Else and Jim, and the intense bond between Kenny and Jim is due to the humour and chemistry between Shipman and Smith.

However, a large part of Narvik’s charm and haunting poignancy is the music, also written by Lizzie Nunnery. The bittersweet romance between Else and Jim is truly felt through the enchanting lyrics and the voices of the cast, with one of the most beautiful vocal performances coming from band member, Maz O’Connor.

Director Hannah Tyrell-Pinder has created a simplistic but truthful production, in which the talents of the cast are allowed to excel without overshadowing Nunnery’s spectacular writing and songs. Also noteworthy is the innovative use of lighting (Richard Owen) and sound, used to create a sense of time and place in a tasteful way that didn’t distract from the touching performance.

Narvik is a compelling and moving production of a love tested by war and a friendship tested by love. It is unpredictable in its narrative and overwhelming in its heart, and overall is utterly unmissable.

-Megan Hyland

https://homemcr.org/production/narvik/Narvik is showing at HOME, Manchester until Saturday 4th February 2017 and you can get your tickets here.

REVIEW: The Trial (HOME, Manchester)

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reviewer: megan hyland
upstaged rating: 

The Trial is a thrillingly absurd adaptation of Franz Kafka’s novel of the same name, adapted by People Zoo Productions. Josef K, honourable citizen and profoundly innocent man, is told on the morning of his birthday that he has been arrested. The audience follows K as he tries to prove his innocence to the unjust and strange legal system that he finds himself entangled in. But not knowing what he stands accused of, and fighting against an unidentified, immeasurable power, how much is his innocence really worth?

William J Holstead stars as the protagonist, displaying remarkable physicality and masterful control, telling the story of one man’s desperation in an emotional and thoroughly committed performance. Holstead acts as a guide for the audience through this peculiar situation that K has found himself in, and as quickly as Holstead has built up the character in the opening scenes, he begins to tear him down, as we see just how far one man will go to prove his innocence. In such a dark and disturbing narrative, however, the rest of the cast provide some much-needed comic relief, all acting in multirole, with Adrian Palmer and Sarah Legg standing out in particular. Palmer’s excellent character acting and Legg’s performance as K’s moralistic and over-sexed landlady are outstanding.

The play itself can only be described as bizarrely entertaining, with well-written and clever dialogue that keeps the audience engaged even despite the nonsensicalness of the plot. The remarkable humour and intrigue that the first act creates outweigh the unusualness of the storyline, and instead supply it with a strange charm. The second act, however, is incredibly intense, with some exceptional performances and gripping scenes that send some powerful messages that are still relevant today.

Director Craig Sanders has created a wonderfully offbeat dark comedy, managing to portray both the nostalgia and relevance of Kafka’s work on the stage. Paired with the intense music of Dennis Tjoik and the simplistic but expressive set design, the effect is a thought-provoking combination of surrealism and farce. These are two things that the play combines effortlessly, transitioning frequently between slapstick humour and highly intense scenes with ease and fluidity. And although the storyline itself is quite non-traditional and perplexing, once the eccentricity of the production itself is embraced, it makes for a captivating and unusually amusing watch.

-Megan Hyland

The Trial is performed as part of PUSH Festival at HOME, Manchester. PUSH Festival runs from 14th January – 28th January 2017 and the full festival brochure is available by clicking here.

Our Favourite Productions of 2016

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With all of the big Christmas shows in full swing, it feels like a good time to look back at the highlights of a busy year for theatre in Manchester. Here are Upstaged Manchester’s theatrical highlights of 2016. Which shows would make your list?

 Wit at The Royal Exchange

Julie Hesmondhalgh’s portrayal of Dr Vivian Bearing, an American Professor who finds herself diagnosed with advanced metastatic ovarian cancer, was striking and raw – nothing short of magnificent. Cancer is a hard subject matter to tackle on stage, especially in a performance as honest as this. Wit had everything. Powerful enough to make some cry and poignant enough to make everyone laugh, think and discuss.

The Girls at The Lowry Theatre

The Girls at The Lowry, Salford © John Swannell
© John Swannell

 

I am just so pleased that The Girls is on its way to the West End and is set to open at London’s Phoenix Theatre from January 2017. The collaboration between Gary Barlow and Tim Firth is a perfect recipe for success. Hilarious and heartbreaking all at the same time, I spent most of Act 2 looking through a blur because my eyes were so teary from laughing and crying at the same time. Just fabulous.

Husbands & Sons at The Royal Exchange

Husband’s & Sons had the perfect line-up of creatives and performers – all of the best in the field working together on one show. Director Marianne Elliott, of War Horse and Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, at the helm of a truly phenomenal cast – including Ann-Marie Duff and Louise Brealey. Fused with Bunny Christie’s ingenious design, Husband’s & Sons was heartfelt and gritty. So good, I wanted to watch it all over again.

The Encounter at HOME

A strikingly different theatre experience to anything that I have witnessed before. Every member of the audience is issued with a set of headphones and using cutting edge audio technology  is transported to the Amazonian rainforest and into the head of Loren McIntyre, a stranded photojournalist. The Encounter is gripping,  an adventure story which gets inside your head. Literally.

Parade at Hope Mill Theatre

I always enjoy James Baker’s productions massively – with every show he raises the bar of the Manchester Fringe Theatre scene a little higher. Parade was nothing short of a triumph. The dimly lit, eerie walls of Manchester’s newest performance space, Hope Mill Theatre added a further dimension to the production – intimate and powerful, something quite special.

Origins at The Lowry Theatre

Origins by Animikii Theatre. Developed with The Lowry.
Origins by Animikii Theatre.
Developed with The Lowry.

An intense new piece of physical theatre by Animikii Theatre Company exploring the story of the world’s first murderer: the killing of Cain by his brother Abel. Captivating storytelling communicated only through movement and sound. Adam Davies and Charles Sandford are highly skilled performers and with every detail loaded to perfection, Animikii Theatre Company are certainly ones I’ll be watching out for in the future.

 

Rambert: A Linha Curva at The Lowry

Now in their 90th year and still leading the dance world with their innovative and exhilarating dance works. A Linha Curva is sensual, witty and terribly good. The dancers are faultless, moving alongside each other in a truly intoxicating display. Rambert may be 90 this year but they show no sign of standing still.

Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes at The Lowry

Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes ~Ashley Shaw as Victoria Page~
Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes
~Ashley Shaw as Victoria Page~

The Red Shoes is a breathtaking balletic display – a beautifully tragic tale poignantly told. Terry Davies’ musical score, using the music of golden-age Hollywood, and Lez Brotherston’s ornate set and dazzling costumes ooze 1940’s glamour. Following it’s sell out run in 2016, it returns again to The Lowry in July 2017. So if you didn’t catch it this time round, get your ticket booked for next year!

Sweet Charity at The Royal Exchange

Kaisa Hammarlund in Sweet Charity © Richard Davenport
Kaisa Hammarlund in Sweet Charity
© Richard Davenport

With its irresistible Cy Coleman musical score, supervised by Nigel Lilley and directed by Mark Aspinall, played superbly by a live band; an ensemble that dazzle and a top-notch central performance from Kaisa Hammarlund – Derek Bond’s Sweet Charity is an absolute must-see. At the Royal Exchange until 28th January 2018 – there is still plenty of time to bag a ticket. You’re welcome.

REVIEWER: CIARAN WARD

A Streetcar Named Desire at The Royal Exchange

Sarah Frankcom’s adaptation of Tennessee Williams’  modern domestic tragedy, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, was an exhilarating piece of theatre that warranted much more than a five-week run. Maxine Peake’s effortless performance as the fallen Blanche DuBois was every bit as riveting and worthy of acclaim as her predecessors, Vivien Leigh and Gillian Anderson.

REVIEWER: DEMI WEST

GM Fringe 2016: Fast Fringe at The Dancehouse Theatre

The ‘GM Fringe 2016: Fast Fringe’ show was by far the most memorable comedy that I have enjoyed this year. The selection box of comedians kept the show fresh, each offering a diverse style of comedy that was sure to please all audience members. The Fast Fringe is a brilliant way to sample and discover different comedians, along with guaranteed laughs.

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you – thank you for all of your support this year. 

Wishing you all the best in 2017.

-Kristy Stott

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REVIEW: The Emperor (HOME, Manchester)

Kathryn Hunter in The Emperor © Simon Annand
Kathryn Hunter in The Emperor
© Simon Annand
reviewer: Megan Hyland
upstaged rating: 

The Emperor tells the story of the fall of the infamous Haile Selassie, Ethiopian Emperor between the years of 1930 and 1974. The play is based on Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuściński’s book, in which he interviewed the servants of Selassie after his downfall. It is a glimpse into a world of corruption, poverty and absolute power, through the eyes of those who worked under the Emperor throughout his tyrannical reign.

The shapeshifting Kathryn Hunter plays each character with such spirited passion and vigour, with no crossover in between, each character is a personality in their own right. Her voices and mannerisms bring the characters to life in an inspiring and vast performance, transforming herself completely. The limited costume and props leave the characterisation to fall into Hunter’s very capable hands, and she does not disappoint. Every character has their own tone, and she switches effortlessly between the emotionally raw and vulnerable to the closed off and political. Through every character, we were able to build our own image of the Emperor, making him almost as big of a presence as the characters on stage.

The combination of Hunter’s masterful character acting and Temesgen Zeleke’s beautifully haunting live music created the sombre yet heartfelt tale that ran alongside the Emperor’s dictation and downfall – the loyalty and love of his servants. Although the Emperor was the main focus of the production, you can’t help as an audience member to feel drawn to Hunter’s characters. She plays them with such vitality that it becomes difficult not to become immersed in their world. And although the story itself was deeply interesting, especially since it is so little known, the production itself was held up by Hunter’s incredible talent. Her performance was pivotal to the success of the play, as any other attempt at such a bold and demanding role possibly would have caused the whole production to fall flat.

Mike Gunning’s lighting and Paul Arditti’s sound combined with Walter Meierjohann’s poignant directing created an intense, albeit slightly bizarre show that is not to be missed. The quick changes in tone left audiences reeling, never quite sure whether they should be laughing or crying, but Hunter made it flow naturally. Temesgen Zeleke’s music and the inclusion of the Amharic language of Ethiopia in his side characters added a subtle authenticity to the piece, making it all the more credible.

The Emperor is an honest and engaging piece about a part of history that many people know little about, creating a lot of discussion. However, what stands out for many is Kathryn Hunter’s faultless performance and energy that carries the piece throughout.

-Megan Hyland

The Emperor is at HOME, Manchester until Friday 30th September 2016.

For a taster of this FIVE STAR show, please watch HOME‘s trailer…

REVIEW: Beyond Caring (HOME, Manchester)

Beyond Caring © Graeme Braidwood
Beyond Caring
© Graeme Braidwood
upstaged rating: 

Beyond Caring pulls the filthy wall away to reveal the reality of working life for the night shift workers on zero-hours contracts in a meat factory. Employed as cleaners on agency contracts, their work is physically demanding and repetitive and they don’t always get paid on time. Alexander Zeldin’s perception of life on the lowest rung of the employment ladder is precise, darkly comic and painstakingly accurate.

Beyond Caring © Graeme Braidwood
Beyond Caring
© Graeme Braidwood

Designer Natasha Jenkins has managed to make Theatre 2 at HOME feel just like an industrial warehouse. Harshly lit by bright white strip lights from above, there is the smell of cleaning products and pungent damp mops in the air. We learn snippets about the characters lives during their 15-minute lunch breaks before they continue with the arduous task of cleaning the meat factory.

The whole piece has been devised by the company through investigation and talking to those who have experienced zero-hours contracts. The show centres around the introduction of three new agency workers to the soul-destroying and dingy walls of the factory: Grace (Janet Etuk), Susan (Kristin Hutchinson) and Becky (Victoria Moseley). Led by factory taskmaster Ian (Luke Clarke), the three women join with permanent employee Phil (James Doherty) to work the night shift. Hints are threaded throughout the script to indicate why the three are so desperate for the job – it’s authentic, real and at times, difficult to watch.

Beyond Caring © Graeme Braidwood
Beyond Caring
© Graeme Braidwood

Luke Clarke’s supervisor Ian has a ‘David Brent’ air about him, conducting pointless team meetings and describing his self-indulgent spiritual beliefs; though despite the shades of black comedy, the piece takes the subject matter seriously. As somebody who has worked in a zero-hours environment, I could relate to the way he treated his workers, which made for uncomfortable but achingly real viewing.

-Kristy Stott

Beyond Caring runs at HOME, Manchester until Saturday 16th July 2016 and you can get your tickets here.

REVIEW: On Corporation Street (HOME, Manchester)

On Corporation Street at HOME, Manchester © Graeme Cooper
On Corporation Street at HOME, Manchester
© Graeme Cooper
upstaged rating: 

“Where were you on June 15th 1996, when the bomb went off?”

It’s a question etched into most Mancunian’s minds and this year marks the twentieth anniversary of the 1996 Manchester bombing. That fateful day when the Provisional IRA detonated a 1500kg truck bomb on Corporation Street, in the heart of our city centre on a busy Saturday. It was the biggest bomb blast in Great Britain since World War II, damaging many landmark buildings and reducing others to rubble, it injured 212 people.

Now, ANU Productions and Manchester’s newest theatre HOME collaborate to stage On Corporation Street, a thoughtful and deeply engaging performance which propels the audience through a series of meetings with those affected by the bombing on June 15th 1996. These are real Mancunian stories, framed by shards of glass and the image of the one red postbox left standing amid the entire devastation.

Taking our seats in HOME’s darkened theatre, that lorry is on the stage – reddish orange front cab and the hazard lights flashing. Individual characters enter and the ensemble move slowly – their voices drowned out by the deafening, reverberating noise. An emergency siren disrupts the performance and we are all evacuated from the theatre – stepping into the backstage area we are invited to meet those affected by the blast.  

It’s a powerful theatrical work of art – watching a film documenting the effects of the blast on our city we are abruptly interrupted by one of the bombers who, sharpening our senses to his motivations behind the act of terror, ushers us along a stark brick corridor. More highly personal encounters follow – a young 18-year-old shop worker recalls his experience on returning from the basement of the department store, eyes wide and tearful. We are shifted up in a lift to meet a Northern Irish nurse, angry and fearful, feeling ashamed of her accent and a frustrated business owner who is waiting to get the keys back to her shop. 

Throughout our journey within the performance space, we can hear noises which serve to disorientate us further – snippets of news relevant to Euro 96, music and arguing. It all serves to create a fully immersive and interactive environment, unsure of who we will encounter next.  

At the close of the performance, we are regurgitated back out on to Whitworth St West with a proud 2016 Manchester skyline welcoming us. Fabulous old architecture punctuated with the new and with Beetham Tower staring impressively down on us, it is incredible and hopeful to see how much our city has healed since the bombing on 15th June 1996.

-Kristy Stott

On Corporation Street is at HOME, Manchester until Saturday 25 June 2016 and you can get your tickets here.

What’s on in Manchester this Easter for Families?

Are you looking for the best theatre and creative activities taking place in Greater Manchester during Easter? Look no further.

We’ve compiled a list of the best theatre shows and creative activities for all of the family.

The Easter holidays run through from Monday 4th April until Friday 15th April 2016 – for most schools. This list covers all family fun happening from March through to mid-April.

HOME,  Manchester

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Into The Hoods: Remixed Photo Credit: Hugo Glendinning

Into The Hoods: Remixed is the new updated hip-hop version of the Sondheim classic. Set in the ‘Ruff Endz Estate’, the story follows two lost school children who have been tasked to find an iPhone as white as milk, trainers as pure as gold, a hoodie as red as blood and some weave as yellow as corn. Along the way, they meet DJ Spinderella, wannabe singer Lil Red, vivacious rapper Rap On Zel, budding music producer Jaxx and embark upon a storybook adventure into the heart of a pulsating community!

Into The Hoods: Remixed is recommended for ages 7 + and is at HOME, Manchester from 6th April to 9th April 2016.

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A live adaptation of E. Nesbitt’s classic story The Railway Children (U) will be broadcast at HOME on the 28th March 2016 at 11:30 am. 

 

While you’re at HOME why not take a look at the current exhibition – Designs for Living: Clare Dorset and Chery Tenneson which is recommended for families. Admission is FREE and it opens from 11 am each day.

Oldham Coliseum

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How The Koala Learnt to Hug comes to Oldham Coliseum on Wednesday 30th March 2016. Recommended for ages 3 and over, it’s a charming production based on the book by Steven Lee. With puppet characters, great stories, sing-along songs, superb games and first class hugging all you’ll need are your ears…and your arms!

The Edge Theatre and Arts Centre, Chorlton

Back by popular demand…The Boy Who Bit Picasso returns to The Edge in Chorlton on ‘Easter’ Saturday.

THE BOY WHO EAT PICASSO
The Boy Who Bit Picasso come to The Edge in Chorlton. Photo Credit: Geraint Lewis

The story is inspired by Antony Penrose’s book which follows the story of Tony who becomes friends with Pablo Picasso.

This show promises a lot of interaction as the audience are invited to take part in a variety of art and craft activities. Suitable for everyone aged 4 and up, there will be plenty of storytelling and music as the children are introduced to one of the twentieth century’s most influential artists, Pablo Picasso.

The Boy Who Bit Picasso comes to The Edge Theatre and Arts Centre in Chorlton on Saturday 26th March 2016 with 2 showings at 11 am and 2 pm.

TOP TIP: Be sure to wear play clothes because it could get messy

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Lullaby Lane is a unique theatrical experience for children aged from 3-6 which fuses the energy and vibe of a music gig with the intimacy of theatre. It’s a charming little tale exploring childhood memories of forgotten friends, cherished toys and music-making. Featuring vibrant characters and Fran Wyburn’s original musical score, Lullaby Lane provides a great introduction for children to experience an array of string instruments, including banjo, harp, ukulele and guitar. Lovely running time of 45 minutes – perfect for little people.

Half Moon Theatre present Lullaby Lane at The Edge, Chorlton on 8th April 2016 and at Waterside Arts, Sale on 10th April 2016.

And something for the parents…

Mum’s The Word Comedy Club is the comedy gig designed for parents of babies aged 18 months and under. Hosted by comedian and new Mum, Katie Mulgrew, it’s a relaxed affair – feel free to feed, change and nurse your baby. However, the acts do perform their usual adult material so if you have an exceptionally bright 18-month-old or a mimicker, I’d probably avoid. There is a strict policy and only babies under 18 months will be permitted.

Presented by Katie Mulgrew, Mum’s The Word Comedy Club is at The Edge in Chorlton on Friday 1st April 2016 with little ones going free.

The Lowry, Salford

Calling all Michael Morpurgo fans! Where My Wellies Take Me comes to The Lowry, Salford this March. Interweaving poems and songs, we follow 9-year-old Pippa on a May Day ramble through the beautiful English countryside. Based on Clare and Michael Morpurgo’s book, Where My Wellies Take Me is a lively show celebrating the beauty of nature.

Michael-Morpurgo-mainSPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Michael Morpurgo will be available to meet and greet members of the audience after the performance!

Where My Wellies Take Me is at The Lowry Salford on 20th March 2016 at 2 pm.

 


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We’re super excited about Roald Dahl’s The Witches flying into The Lowry at the end of March. Adapted by David Wood and directed by the fabulous Nikolai Foster, Dahl’s scariest book is brought to life.

Featuring a talented bunch of actor-musicians, an original score and mind boggling illusions, The Witches promises to be a terrifying treat for all the family. Watch the trailer…if  you dare…

The Witches is at The Lowry, Salford from 21st March to 26th March 2016.

And for younger ones… Peppa Pig, George and the rest of the crew are back in Salford for their brand new live stage show, Peppa Pig’s Surprise.

Enjoy fun, games and surprises in this charming, colourful show with new songs and new life-size puppets. Running at 1 hour and 20 minutes, Peppa Pig’s Surprise promises to be the perfect theatre show for all pre-schoolers.

Peppa Pig’s Surprise is at The Lowry, Salford on 30th and 31st March 2016.

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Play Dough Photo Credit: Richard Davenport

 

 

Join Unlimited Theatre for Play Dough at The Lowry on 2nd April 2016 at 4 pm. Recommended for ages 7 and up, Play Dough is a playfully interactive show for young people 7+ and their families about the value of money. Hosts Queenie and TooMuch will lead your team through a series of high-energy games while telling you their story, and everything they know about how money really works.

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The Battle of Hastings -Groovy Greeks and Incredible Invaders – Horrible Histories Photo credit: Mark Douet

Horrible Histories needs no introduction. It’s a fabulous show and this edition focuses on the Groovy Greeks and the Incredible Invaders. We’ll be there – who wants to join us?

Horrible Histories – Groovy Greeks and Incredible Invaders is at The Lowry from the 5th April to the 9th April 2016.

 

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“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.”

From the moment his tall, red and white-striped hat appears around the door, Sally and her brother know that The Cat in the Hat is the most mischievous cat you will ever meet. With the trickiest of tricks and craziest of ideas, he turns Sally and her brothers rainy afternoon into an amazing adventure. But what will mum say when she gets home?

The Cat In The Hat is the perfect first theatre experience for children aged 3 and up and it is at The Lowry, Salford from the 11th to 13th April 2016.

A must-see for all dancers aged 3-133…

The_Tap_Dancing_Mermaid_mainTessa Bide brings her solo show, The Tap Dancing Mermaid to The Lowry, Salford on Sunday 17th April 2016.

Stick your 50ps to the bottom of your shoes and gather round to hear the Moon’s magical story about a tap dancer who creeps out of her house every night to dance to the sounds of the sea. Marina Skippett has been forbidden to dance at home by her tractor-sized Aunty. Follow her exciting adventure with stunning puppetry, live music and tap dancing.


Z-Arts, Hulme

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Engine House, the company behind critically acclaimed productions of Red Riding Hood and Flat Stanley join forces with “Britain’s favourite literary lunatics” LipService (Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding) to create a brand new show for children and their families, adapted for the stage by Olivier Award-winning writer Mike Kenny. Suitable for children over the age 4, Snow White is a magical and comic re-telling of the much-loved fairytale.

Snow White comes to Z-Arts, Hulme on the 19th March 2016.

You can also join in at the FREE Brother’s Grimm Fun Day at Z-Arts – craft, drama and storytelling – on 19th March from 12noon-4pm and it is suitable for all ages. Hurrah!

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We’re Stuck! is a theatre show recommended for ages 8-11. Join Dr Volcano and the robots on a special adventure into the heart of a top-secret research institute, where cutting edge scientists need your help tackling some extremely tricky problems. Running at 70 minutes, this interactive show promises to stretch your brain in unexpected directions.

This show is recommended for ages 8-11 due to the content and some of the problem-solving tasks, it is not advisable to buy tickets for anyone below this age range.

We’re Stuck! is at Z-Arts, Hulme from 12th April -16th April.

In addition to the performance, our friends at Z-arts have teamed up with China Plate and Manchester Science Festival to bring you a series of fun events and activities across the Easter holidays to tackle some extremely tricky maths, science and art conundrums! Why not work on your comedy skills  with the We’re Stuck comedy week?

 

For families with children 8+ and children under 8, there will be free activities on Friday the 15th April! No need to book in advance, turn up on the day to get involved! Click here for info.

Waterside Arts Centre, Sale

Gorilla by Anthony Browne comes to Waterside Arts Centre, Sale from the 2nd April to 4th April 2016. Running at just 50 minutes and recommended for the ‘nearly fours’ and up, Gorilla has a really impressive creative team behind it. The story is based on an award-winning picture book by former Children’s Laureate Anthony Browne and it is brought to you by the team who produced Charlie and Lola’s Best Bestest Play and James and The Giant Peach. Take a look at the trailer…


 

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If you missed Snow White at Z-Arts – you get another chance to catch the Olivier Award-winning writer Mike Kenny’s magical and comic adaptation of the classic fairytale.

Snow White comes to Waterside Arts, Sale on the 12th and 13th April 2016.

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Lullaby Lane comes to Waterside Arts, Sale on the 10th April 2016.

There’s another chance to experience the charming Lullaby Lane at if you missed it the first time round at The Edge in Chorlton.


 

The Royal Exchange

The Royal Exchange is home to Flying Saucers every Sunday. The events, activities and workshops for under 11s include storytelling sessions, craft workshops, Hard Hat Sundays and entertainment for all the family. Some workshops are age-restricted and ticketed, so it’s a good idea to book in advance as they can be very popular. Around The World in 60 Minutes is taking place on Sunday 20th March 2016 and is suitable for ages 5-8, costs £3.00 a child and adults are free. Booking is strongly recommended.

Find out more by clicking here or give the Royal Exchange box office a call on 0161 833 9833 – they’re a friendly bunch.

Trafford Music Service

The service is offering an Easter music school suitable for primary school children (from reception to year 6), running for 3 days from 4th April to 6th April 2016. During the course children will be given the opportunity to sing as well as play a selection of instruments including the violin, ukulele, guitar, recorder, fife and percussion.

The course costs £35 per day and runs from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm. All instruments are provided, all you need to do is provide a packed lunch.

For more information and to book click here!

Octagon Theatre, Bolton

Join everyone for an afternoon of storytelling at the Octagon Theatre. During Storyplay: Beauty and The Beast, your little ones will be transported on a literary journey of fun and adventure – meeting all of their favourite characters, brought to life by actors from the Octagon Company.

Meet in the relaxed play area in the Octagon Bar at 4:30pm on Friday 15th April 2016. Recommended for families of all ages and costs £4 per child with a free adult place per child.

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The Macbeth Curse engulfs the Octagon in Bolton from 19th April to 23rd April 2016. Written by Terry Deary, author of Horrible Histories The Macbeth curse promises to be a perfect introduction to the magic and madness of Shakespeare. Recommended for ages 7 and up and with a running time of 60 minutes. Each showing also includes a 20 minute Q&A session after each performance.

Manchester Museum

Two FREE events are happening at Manchester Museum as part of the Greater Manchester On Film Festival (GMOFF) . While you’re paying Stan the T-Rex a visit, why not catch a FREE screening of Jurassic Park (suitable for ages 9+) or Jurassic World (suitable for 12+)?

Jurassic Park screens at 11 am on 2oth March and Jurassic World screens at 2 pm. Hit the links to book your FREE tickets through Eventbrite. There is also junk modelling from 1 pm so why not have a go at making your own  junk model dinosaur to take home?

The Whitworth

Another fantastic FREE event as part of the GMOFF at The Whitworth on Saturday 26th March 2016.

Enjoy a screening of the stop-motion animation Fantastic Mr Fox (PG) in The Whitworth’s Grand Hall. After the film, there is also the opportunity to take part in a family art activity led by The Whitworth. You will be able to have a go at making 3D art inspired by Mr Fox and co. and the wildlife in Whitworth Park. Recommended for ages 7+ and all under 16’s must be accompanied by an adult.

Interested? Booking in advance is a must. Hit the link!

National Football Museum

Finally, for budding footballers – courtesy of the GMOFF, there is a FREE screening of Carlitos and the Chance of a Lifetime at the National Football Museum on Sunday 27th March 2016. The screening starts at 11 and is recommended for ages 9 and over – however, it is a Spanish film with English subtitles which many younger children will struggle to follow. Under 16’s must be accompanied by an adult and any adults must be accompanied by a child. You can book through Eventbrite here.

 

Upstaged Manchester would like to wish you all a happy Easter and it would be super to hear your views on any of the shows or activities.

Please tweet your mini reviews to @UpstagedMCR   #upstagedfamily

 

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REVIEW – Endgame (HOME, Manchester)

Endgame by Samuel Beckett  Presented by HOME Manchester and the Glasgow Citizens Theatre.   © Tim Morozzo
Endgame by Samuel Beckett
Presented by HOME Manchester and the Glasgow Citizens Theatre.
© Tim Morozzo
Upstaged Rating: 

 A curtain featuring a pretty painted seaside picture lifts slowly to reveal Tom Piper’s suitably grimy set – rusty, damp and closed off from the world. There are two small windows offering a peek outside, but you’ll need a ladder to reach them and a cloth to clean them. Samuel Beckett’s Endgame is an extraordinary piece of writing, a classic of modern theatre and this collaboration between the Citizens Theatre and HOME is as vital and as macabre as it should be.

Taking on the roles of chair bound and blind master Hamm and his dutiful servant Clov are Coronation Street favourites, David Neilson aka Roy Cropper and Chris Gascoyne, who plays Peter Barlow. Existing somewhere between life and death, far from the cobbles and chatter of Weatherfield, Hamm (David Neilson) and Clov (Chris Gascoyne)are inextricably bound to one another and spend their existence verbally brawling at each other. Hamm’s parents, Nagg (Peter Kelly) and Nell (Barbara Rafferty) occupy two bins on the stage offering Hamm a glimpse of memory and nostalgia.

Director Dominic Hill brings out every bit of detail in the script, finding new subtlety and absolute meaning in the bleak and absurd world that the characters inhabit. Endgame is not without humour – dark but strangely uplifting at the same time, and it is this ambiguity, masterfully brought out by Hill, that makes it so compelling.

Neilson and Gascoyne give striking physical performances throughout, their peculiar and repetitive traits build upon Beckett’s very particular stage directions. Chris Gascoyne’s timing and physicality as Clov is superb; unable to sit down and constantly threatening to leave, he excels in bringing out the elements of slapstick. David Neilson is brilliant as Hamm, intelligent and matter-of-fact, nothing is rushed here and every word is loaded with meaning.

I read somewhere that Gascoyne and Neilson, having been in Coronation Street, are hoping to bring in an audience who possibly haven’t been to the theatre or haven’t seen any of Beckett’s work before, which is a really positive thought. On the evening that I attended, I was thrilled to sit next to the world’s leading Beckett scholar James Knowlson OBE – a personal friend of Beckett and writer of his biography, Damned to Fame. Amidst the noisy applause, James Knowlson was shouting his approval and later described the production to me as ‘extraordinary’. Now that has to be a worthy testimonial.

-Kristy Stott

Endgame is on at HOME, Manchester (2 Tony Wilson Place, M15 4FN) until Saturday 12th March 2016 and you can click here for tickets.