It’s February! January Blues are in the past and Dry January is over. It’s time to launch into a new month with a spring in your step. There is so much exciting theatre on offer this month in Manchester, my diary is already full. The city is proudly hosting the musical premiere of my favourite 80s film and staging a radical adaptation of a literary classic.
Here are some suggestions of what you can catch this month across Manchester’s theatres:-
3rd – 6th February 2020
This is a project that has excited me from the outset. As we know, female writers and directors are gravely underrepresented across the arts. Work by men dominates our stages. It is imperative that the industry programmes more work penned by women. Matthew Xia, the Artistic Director of the Actors Touring Company, is committed to redressing this balance. Meanwhile, the National Theatre faced a backlash for only programming one work by a female playwright in their 2019 season.
This is why Vignettes is so important.
Six short plays are presented over the evening, written by local established and emerging female playwrights. The pieces are all original works, which are also directed by women.
Out of the six plays, I am most looking forward to Keisha Thompson‘s Tinderbox. Her writing really impressed me with her short play, Whalley Range, in the Manchester Project at Christmas. It will be nice to see more work from her.
This project is commissioned by HER Productions, a female-led theatre company based in Manchester. The importance of Vignettes providing a platform for women’s voices to be heard cannot be overstated.
Please visit Hope Mill Theatre’s website to see the full programme of plays and to reserve tickets.
7th February – 7th March 2020
When two souls collide, the impact can resonate for all eternity. So it was, and so it is, with Heathcliff and Cathy – but if they can’t be together, the world that struggles to contain them will simply shatter and burn…
Whether you have read the book or not, Cathy and Heathcliff’s romance has been immortalised in literary legend, partly thanks to Kate Bush.
The wiley, windy moors are an unexpected setting for one of literature’s most famous love stories, but it proves to be Brontë’s masterstroke. The bleak, cold landscape matches her protagonist’s character perfectly.
I always struggled with Wuthering Heights in school. Unlike my classmates, I could never identify Heathcliff as a romantic hero. However, over time the novel has grown on me, and I can appreciate how complex and multifaceted Brontë’s characters are.
Adapted by local actor and playwright, Andrew Sheridan, this promises to be a radical reworking of a classic. It will be the first piece directed Bryony Shanahan as joint Artistic Director of the Royal Exchange.
Wuthering Heights also has an insanely talented cast, with Rakhee Sharma playing Cathy alongside Alex Austin‘s Heathcliff. I am delighted to see that Gurjeet Singh is playing Hindley, as he is a fantastic actor. Most tantalising though is that Rash Dash Theatre’s Beckie Wilkie will be one of the on-stage musicians throughout the show. This play excites me on every level.
You can reserve tickets through the Royal Exchange Theatre’s website.
Read my review here.
12th – 22nd February 2020
Helen, Alan, and Graham are told that they are impaired and need fixing. As they begin to question the world around them, three powerful coming-of-age stories unfold, uniting in a struggle against violence, ignorance and oppression.
Connecting through a shared past, they are transported to one pivotal moment in 1880, when a dangerous ideology was born: one that would impair the way the world views Deaf people for over a century.
Ad Infinitum combine the company’s signature style of physical storytelling with the beauty of British Sign Language in this inclusive, resonant, unmissable feast for the senses.
Tickets for Extraordinary Wall
of Silence are available through HOME’s website or by phoning their box office on 0161 200 1500.
20th February – 17th May 2020
Great Scott!! One of the best films ever made has been adapted into a musical! Plus, it’s making its premiere in Manchester!
The 1985 movie and pop culture phenomenon has been transported to the stage by the creators of the original film, Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis. The musical’s electrifying soundtrack reunites the film’s composers, Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard and will include new compositions, in addition to iconic hits, The Power of Love, Johnny B Goode, Earth Angel and Back in Time.
My initial reservations about how this musical will work have been banished by how much Christopher Lloyd has been involved in the show’s marketing. Although centre stalls tickets are expensive, I managed to bag a cheap ticket sat at the back of the stalls.
Set the DeLorean for 2020 – Manchester’s Opera House, and fasten your seatbelts…
“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!”
For more information, please visit ATG Tickets.
21st February – 7th March 2020
Nothing dies online…except reputation.
Jack has a bright future ahead of him. His parents, Di and David, have devoted their lives to giving him every opportunity they never had. As a result, Jack is smart, outgoing, and well on his way to leaving Oldham to study law at university.
But an intimate video of Jack and his girlfriend Cara has appeared online. It threatens to ruin everything they’ve worked for.
James Fritz’s Four Minutes Twelve Seconds was nominated for an Olivier Award in 2015, and explores the dangers of modern technology, and how far parents will go to protect their children.
Tickets can be reserved through Oldham Coliseum’s website.
25th – 29th February 2020
After receiving critical acclaim at The Old Vic, this visceral adaptation of Patrick Ness‘ award-winning young-adult fantasy novel has embarked on a tour of the UK.
Conor’s mum is sick and she isn’t getting any better. His dad moved away and his grandmother won’t stop interfering. The kids at school won’t look him in the eye. One night, a voice calls to Conor from outside his bedroom window.
Walking to the window, Conor meets the monster who called. He is a towering mass of branches and leaves formed into a human shape from the yew tree. The monster has come walking. It has come to tell Conor tales of when it walked before. When it has finished, Conor must tell his own story and face his deepest fears.
A Monster Calls offers a profound insight into love, life and healing. It is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. Hopefully, this stage version will be equally as affecting as Ness’ novel.
You can book tickets though The Lowry’s website or via their box office on 0343 208 6000.