With parliament suspended, and a no-deal Brexit looking more probable than ever, you could be forgiven for thinking that the country is going to the dogs. Our democracy is under threat. The Amazon Rainforest is on fire, as the effects of climate change are already becoming apparent. These are truly depressing times that we live in. But there is happiness to be found in the world!
Theatres are now back in business after their summer break and there is an abundance of fantastic theatre on offer across Manchester in September. Thriving with creative talent, this city is one of the most exciting places to be in, and I am incredibly proud to live here.
Here are some suggestions of what you can catch at the theatre this month:-
10th – 12th September 2019
“I could eat glass. I could stick my hand into the fire and watch the thing burn, and I still wouldn’t be out of this fucking head!”
One of my highlights of the GM Fringe festival, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea is a fascinating character study of the unspoken depths of humanity. It brutally explores the violence, insanity, love and hatred that can occur between two people.
Danny is a trucker who people call ‘The Beast’. He thinks he just murdered a guy in a fight. Roberta is a troubled young mother with a teenage son. Both deplorable individuals, it is captivating to watch how these two loathsome people warm towards one other. Without being sentimental, the abhorrent violence of each character disturbingly compliments the weaknesses of the other. This relationship in John Patrick Shanley‘s play is so complex that it has been seared on my mind since I watched it.
The characters are perfectly rendered by Hannah Ellis-Ryan and Danny Solomon, and their performances are astonishing. It is, without doubt, the highest level of acting I have seen all year. They were both rightfully nominated for Best Actor in the GM Fringe Awards.
I have been dying to watch this outstanding play again, so I am delighted to see it return with the same cast. As tickets cost around £12, it proves that you don’t have pay a fortune and travel to London’s West End in order to see actors who are at the top of their game.
Tickets can be bought from Hope Mill Theatre’s website.
10th September – 12th October 2019
What if Juliet’s famous ending was really just her beginning? What if she decided to choose her own fate? This is Juliet’s story now. When it comes to love, there is always life after Romeo!
Join Juliet on a journey of self-discovery and second chances in this sensational, new West End musical. It features an exceptional soundtrack of glittering pop anthems from across the last 30 years, written by Max Martin.
Martin’s iconic tunes include Everybody (Backstreet’s Back), Baby One More Time, I Kissed a Girl and Roar. This is guaranteed to be a cracking night out! The cast even gave Mancunian commuters a taster, surprising them with a flashmob on the Metrolink.
With the most famous love story of all time getting a remix, this is guaranteed to be a cracking night out!
You can buy tickets through ATG Tickets.
11th – 21st September 2019
Adapted by the brilliant Tanika Gupta, Red Dust Road is based on the memoir of HOME patron and celebrated poet, Jackie Kay.
Growing up in Scotland in the 1970s, as the adopted mixed-race child of a Communist couple, young Jackie Kay blossomed into an outspoken young poet. Then she decided to find her birth parents.
Red Dust Road takes you on a soul-searching journey from Nairn to Lagos, to discover how we are as much shaped by the folk songs we hear than the cells in our body. It is an autobiographical play full of profound emotions, that is full of heart and humour.
Red Dust Road is co-production between HOME and National Theatre Scotland.
For more information, or to buy tickets, please visit HOME’s website.
13th September – 19th October 2019
“By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes!”
Gender-switching seems to be all the rage at the moment, with both the Globe and the RSC staging gender-blind versions of Shakespeare’s most iconic plays.
Here, Lucy Ellison plays the title role, alongside Ony Uhiara as Lady Macbeth, in one of Shakespeare’s darkest tragedies. Corrupted by greed and power, Macbeth will stop at nothing to seize the crown. A murderous bloodbath ensues as Macbeth is goaded by his wife into committing unspeakable acts of violence.
I have seen some fantastic productions of Macbeth, and some that were not so great. Time will tell how successful switching the gender of Macbeth will be. Maxine Peake’s gender-switched Hamlet split opinions amongst its audience. One thing is certain, it will be exciting to see Macbeth staged in the round!
You can head to the Royal Exchange’s website to order tickets.
18th & 19th September 2019
After its phenomenal success at the GM Fringe festival, winning the award for Best Revival and receiving Best Actor nominations for both Tilly Sutcliffe and Coral Sinclair, Pramkicker is returning to the King’s Arms in Salford. Written by Sadie Hasler, this comedy has a tender exploration of sisterhood at its heart.
Jude (Sinclair) doesn’t want kids. She doesn’t really like them. One day, Jude loses the plot in a coffee shop full of yummy mummies. She kicks a pram down the stairs and into the street, and gets arrested. Forced to attend anger management classes to avoid criminal charges, her sister Suzy (Sutcliffe) goes along for the ride, and learns the underlying causes behind Jude’s aversion to children.
With fantastic performances and brilliantly directed by John-Mark Reid, this is a funny, yet unflinching exploration of sisterhood that is positively life-affirming. You can read my full review of Pramkicker.
Tickets are available through this link.
24th – 27th September 2019
The best thing about Manchester’s theatre scene is how much incredible emerging talent there is, and how much support there is given to develop it. Oldham Coliseum’s Main House Takeover initiative is a wonderful idea! Giving up their main stage for a few nights, they help provide a platform for local creatives to promote their work.
Tinned Up (24th – 26th September) = 53two and the Manchester Actors’ Platform have partnered up with Oldham Coliseum to tell a story inspired by Salford streets being demolished, and how it affected communities forced to leave their homes.
Written by the insanely talented Chris Hoyle, we meet Shirley Parkin, who has lived in the same house her entire life, and is adamant that she isn’t going anywhere. Shirley is a spirited spinster who has defied the council for years.
A double-bill of two plays that took the GM Fringe and Edinburgh Fringe by storm, and importantly promote female empowerment in STEM disciplines.
Clouds = Winner of Best New Writing at the GM Fringe Awards, Clouds is set in 1913 and women are rising up. Amidst the chaos of the Suffrage movement, Winifred Baxter learns to fly, and is determined to become the first Englishwoman to enter an air race. Highlighted the suffocation of women in pre-war Britain, with a dose of comedy, Clouds is an exemplary piece of new writing from Laura Crow. It is brought to the stage by Time & Again Theatre Company.
Men Chase Women Choose = Taking you through 12,000 years of scientific discoveries about sex, this is a show that challenges gender myths, showing how women were subjected to “Bad Science” for centuries. Eve Shotton and Sophie Giddens are a comedic force to be reckoned with, as they deliver a sexy science lesson you won’t forget in a hurry! Here is my full review.
This is just a handful of the great theatre on offer this month. At least watching a play at your local theatre can take your mind away from the relentless tirade of depressing rolling news about Brexit and climate change. For a few hours at least!