It’s July! It’s the time for eating strawberries and cream whilst watching Wimbledon. If tennis isn’t your cup of tea, you can always visit the theatre. With a host of different festivals taking place across Manchester this month, here are my suggestions what you can watch:-
Until 6th July 2019
Based on the novel by Melvyn Bragg, and with a superb score from Howard Goodall, The Hired Man is a musical that hits all the emotions. As a newly married couple come to the Cumbrian farming community of Crossbridge, they hope to build a new life, tending the land. Their marriage is tested to the limits, as John undertakes backbreaking work, and Emily is pursued by an admirer. The outbreak of the First World War soon interrupts their rural lifestyle, as the local men enlist into the army. Idyllic country customs are set in stark contrast to the trenches on the Western Front.
Performed by an incredible ensemble of actor-musicians, The Hired Man is an epic tale of love, betrayal and loyalty. It is a musical that deals an emotional blow in its second half, as the characters you have grown attached to are thrust into war. It turned me into an emotional wreck, with tears streaming down my face.
This is by far the best musical I have ever seen. I have never been so profoundly moved by anything in the theatre. I couldn’t recommend it enough! I urge anybody in Manchester to watch it before it finishes. You can read my review here.
Tickets are available through Oldham Coliseum’s website.
4th July – 29th July 2019
The annual Manchester International Festival runs throughout the month and sees various shows gracing stages all around the city. Here are some highlights:-
TAO OF GLASS – Royal Exchange Theatre (11th – 20th July) = Part concert, part performance, Tao of Glass is a storytelling tapestry, concerning ten meditations on life, death, and Taoist wisdom. Ten brand new pieces of music from Philip Glass accompany the performance, with an ensemble of musicians and puppeteers.
TREE – Upper Campfield Market Hall (29th June – 13th July) = Written by Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah, Trees blends drama, music, and dance to follow one man’s journey into the heart and soul of contemporary South Africa. Starring Alfred Enoch and Sinéad Cusack, the audience is placed in the centre of the action in this immersive theatrical experience.
DAVID LYNCH AT HOME (6th July – 21st July) = David Lynch, the iconic filmmaker, painter, musician, actor, and photographer, is taking over Manchester’s HOME throughout the MIF. Featuring art, film, and music, there are a host events happening, including an artist’s talk on 6th July.
THE NICO PROJECT – The Stoller Hall (10th – 21st July) = Created by the magnificent Maxine Peake and Sarah Frankcom, the departing artistic director of the Royal Exchange Theatre, this is a creative partnership not to be missed! The Nico Project is inspired by one of pop culture’s most enigmatic figures, Nico from The Velvet Underground. It aims to celebrate female creativity in a field dominated by men.
1st – 31st July 2019
If the MIF is out of your price range, you can always watch a show from the Greater Manchester Fringe festival and support emerging artists and fringe venues. With tickets costing around £10 or under, these shows are much more affordable.
MEN CHASE WOMEN CHOOSE – Hope Mill Theatre (6th – 7th July) = A sketch comedy exploring women, science, and sex. Using film, physical theatre and music, it takes you on a journey through decades of bad science. Created by Eve Shotton, Sophie Giddens, and Matt Holt. Shotton and Giddens were both fabulous in Hope Mill’s all female production of Hamlet, so I am eagerly anticipating this one!
SKANK -Tribeca (18th, 20th & 21st July) = Meet Kate. She’s a skank. She could be a successful writer, if she could just concentrate. Instead, her head is filled with thoughts about Sexy Gary, recycling, and the fear that her internal organs are against her. Written by Clementine Bogg-Hargroves and directed by the brilliant Zoey Barnes.
PRAMKICKER – King’s Arms, Salford (13th -14th July) = Jude doesn’t want kids. One day, in a café full of yummy mummies, Jude kicks a pram, then gets arrested. She gets sent to anger management classes. Pramkicker takes a look at what it means to be a modern woman. Written by Sadie Hasler.
There are literally tonnes of shows to watch in this festival so there will be something here for everybody.
18th – 27th July 2019
Over ten days, Sale Waterside Arts bring a programme of experimental theatre that challenge people to see things differently. Amongst the shows available are the following:-
FIRST TIME (25th July) = Can you remember your first time? Nathaniel can’t seem to forget his. He has been playing it on repeat for the last 15 years. Nathaniel Hall, HIV+ queer artist and activist, brings his astonishing one-man show back to Sale Waterside after a sell out run in 2018. One of the best plays I watched last year, his show is an uplifting story about staying positive in a negative world. I have huge admiration for Nathaniel and booked tickets to this as soon as they came on sale. It helps break the stigma surrounding HIV.
BEACH BODY READY (22nd July) = Summer is here. It is the season of cutting carbs, hitting the gym and shaving everything from the chin down. The Roaring Girls stick two fingers up to social conformity, and everything the media say you should look like. We have been shamed for long enough!
BOAR (23rd July) = A one-man fantasy adventure from Lewis Doherty. Armed with just himself and a chair, he undertakes a formidable quest of epic proportions, as the King’s daughter has been captured by an evil dragon.