In the words of house Stark, “Winter is coming“. The dark evenings are closing in, and it’s time to dig out the winter woolies again. The annual Christmas market stalls are springing up around Manchester and the mood is turning festive. What better way to escape the cold winter weather than watching some theatre? With panto season kicking in, there’s plenty to watch in Manchester this November.
Here are my top picks of the exciting theatre on offer across the city this month.
10th – 11th November 2019
To mark Remembrance Sunday, the Royal Exchange Theatre will be staging an epic twenty-four-hour performance, starting with the traditional two minutes silence at 11am on the 10th November.
Created and staged by Neil Bartlett, the ambitious event will see 48 performers deliver an extraordinary, contemporary work of peace over 24 hours.
This is completely free to attend and you don’t have to book tickets. You certainly don’t have to stay for the full 24 hours either. The Royal Exchange’s building will be open for anybody to join, and leave, whenever they wish across the entire performance. It is also being broadcast live on Resonance FM.
Confirmed performers who will be taking part across the event include Julie Hesmondhalgh, Don Warrington, Miranda Richardson, Toby Jones, and Esh Alladi.
For more information, you can visit the Royal Exchange’s website
11th – 13th November 2019
Honey Grey is the lead singer in her father’s band. She sings her own brilliant ragtime, Charleston and stride – Inspired by Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters and Louis Armstrong. But Honey is living a lie, and that’s a dangerous thing to do in the 1920s in the South.
An uplifting evocation of the Roaring Twenties’ jazz and blues, this gripping story will surely feature some sensational musical numbers. It will also star Michaela Bennison in her first major leading role.
To book tickets, please visit Hope Mill Theatre’s website.
12th – 16th November
Opera North return to the Lowry bringing their new season to the stage. From Tosca to The Magic Flute, their operas have been a resounding success in the past, and have even converted me from a fairly sceptical working-class Manc who believed “opera’s not for me” into a fan of this art form. Their new season includes one of the most popular operas of all time, so I am sure that it will prove just as successful as in previous years.
La Bohéme (12th – 15th November) = On a cold Christmas night, Mimi knocks on Rodolfo’s door in search of a candle light. A love is sparked that changes their lives forever. But can young love survive the winter? Puccini‘s tale of tragic romance perfectly captures the overwhelming rush of love, and the utter devastation when it is lost.
Guilio Cesare (13th November) = Handel‘s resounding opera is set in Egypt, when Cleopatra seduces Julius Caesar. As their passion soars, Caesar finds himself drawn into a dangerous web of bloodthirsty ambition, vengeance, and desire.
The Greek Passion (16th November) = Composed by Bohuslav Martinu, this new production tells a desperate story of what happens when a group of refugees seek help and shelter in a small village. Deep rifts tear into the community as Manolios pleads with his neighbours to show compassion for the exiled, but is met with contempt.
You can get tickets from the Lowry’s website, who offer discounts if you book all three.
16th November 2019 – 11th January 2020
Who doesn’t love a bit of panto? The Oldham community certainly does, and their annual pantomime has been adding some Christmas sparkle to the town for generations. It is hugely popular family fun.
This year, they are staging Jack and the Beanstalk, the classic fairy tale where Jack sells his cow for some magic beans that grow into a giant beanstalk reaching high above the clouds.
To join Jack on his adventure in the magical land of the giants, please visit the website of Oldham Coliseum to buy tickets.
25th – 30th November 2019
The small budget, independent Australian film, The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert has become somewhat of a cult classic. With a cracking soundtrack and a dazzling array of wonderfully extravagant costumes, it is easy to see why this was turned into a stage show.
The plot is quite simple. Three drag queens travel from Sidney to Alice Springs, across the inhospitable, arid Australian landscape in a bright pink bus. Along the way, they encounter homophobic abuse, a mechanic with mail order bride, and climb King’s Canyon in full drag regalia.
You can buy tickets via ATG Tickets.
27th – 30th November 2019
Performance artist Chanje Kunda was suffering with stress and anxiety and discovered that plants reduce stress. Then she found out that women in Mexico were getting married to trees. Chanje fell in love with plants and the pressures of life have drifted away.
Preferring the twining of a creeper than a man, Chanje takes us through an amusing series of dating misadventures that have left her embracing foliage over FOMO.
I watched Plant Fetish as a work-in-progress, and it was my highlight of HOME’s Push Festival. It is a delightfully funny one-woman show that I highly recommend.
Obviously, this is just a small selection of the incredible theatre on offer across Manchester. I encourage everyone to support local theatres. They really do need all the help they can get.