Northern Soul

Articles relating to: Kevin Bourke

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Review: A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, Heaton Park and Hall

July 22, 2017 Comments Off on Review: A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, Heaton Park and Hall
 
The passion, heart and indomitable spirit of adventure in all of Feelgood‘s work has made them a vital part of Manchester’s independent theatre scene since their very first show more than 20 years ago. Since then, their promenade shows in Heaton Park have proved to be one of the most loved aspects of their work.
 
So it was exciting news that they were returning to the park this Summer with their first outdoor show there since Macbeth in 2009 (as last year’s Whispers Of Heaton was actually performed within Heaton Park Hall). What’s more, they are now official ‘theatre partners’ with Manchester City Council for the park and the hall, a status that allows them – and us – to dream of a new permanent theatre and rep company in the park, much as London enjoys with Regent’s Park.
 
A Midsummer Night's DreamTheirs is a ‘site-sympathetic’ (as opposed to site-specific) version of The Bard’s mischievous A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which Feelgood founder Caroline Clegg had earlier promised would “bring all the history and the culture and the great stories of Heaton Park into the play as well. We’re aiming to juxtapose the history of the hall with this sense that Heaton is a real people’s park.”
 
The rather ingenious way this was worked into the already dream-like structure of the play was by means of a prologue in front of the hall, wherein the audience were alerted that several members of the cast hadn’t yet returned from a day out. Promptly from out of the hall emerged several ghosts of the Egerton family with some of their famous musical and theatrical friends, offering to take part in the evening’s entertainment in a less chaotic echo of the way the mechanicals were shortly to talk about their contribution.
 
Then audience and players wandered through the remarkable park, with actors emerging from the woods at different junctures to continue the action. Passers-by – mainly late evening joggers and dog-walkers – may have been a little taken aback by coming across the magical confusion but it was all rather delightful, albeit exhausting to watch the players running all over the place in between their scenes, before finishing back in the hall itself for the climactic wedding scene and the Mechanicals’ show-stopping performance.
 
The music played throughout made witty but not intrusive references to the hall and park’s history, including dashes of Gilbert & Sullivan, Britten, Mendelssohn and even Oasis, while the players, many of them Feelgood regulars, threw themselves into the action (rather literally for Toby Hadoke’s Bottom at one point) with gusto, notably Ebony Feare as Puck, a part far removed from her Mende in Slave – A Question Of Freedom
 
Even the weather played along for once. So something of a triumphant return for Feelgood and a tantalising promise of great things to come in the park.
 
 
golden-star golden-star golden-star golden-star
 
 
A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs in Heaton Park and Hall until August 6, 2017 (no performances on July 23, 24 or 31). It’s suitable for ages eight and above, although all children must be accompanied by an adult. Venue is wheelchair accessible, although some of the grassy locations will need a strong push. The wheelchair pusher goes free. This is a walkabout show and rain will not stop play, so no refunds and please wear sensible clothing and footwear. Feel free to bring a cushion, blanket or light fold-up chair.  
 
To read Kevin’s interview with Feelgood founder Caroline Clegg, click here.
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Caroline Clegg from Feelgood Theatre talks about A Midsummer Night’s Dream

July 19, 2017 Comments Off on Caroline Clegg from Feelgood Theatre talks about A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Caroline Clegg, the founder and driving force behind the award-winning Feelgood Theatre, would be the last to deny that the company has had its ups and down over the years since the first show in 1994.

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Ceremony (photo credit: Manchester International Festival)

Review: Ceremony, Manchester International Festival

July 19, 2017 Comments Off on Review: Ceremony, Manchester International Festival

“In harrowing times for so many, it’s more important than ever to remember Engels’ legacy – and the spirit of solidarity and dignity which beats at its core,” observed Turner Prize-nominated artist Phil Collins.

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Stax records

Stax Records: the legend lives on in a new generation

July 7, 2017 Comments Off on Stax Records: the legend lives on in a new generation

The description ‘legendary’ tends to get bandied around a lot in the mostly preposterous world of popular music.

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Northern Soul chats to the brains behind Storyhouse, Chester’s new arts centre

June 28, 2017 Comments Off on Northern Soul chats to the brains behind Storyhouse, Chester’s new arts centre

By chance I found myself sitting next to Sam Dixon, the leader of Chester Council, at The Beggar’s Opera, the official opening performance for the city’s spanking new arts centre Storyhouse.

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The Dukes new Artistic Director, Sarah Punshon

Sarah Punshon, the new artistic director of The Dukes in Lancaster, talks diversity and a disregard for boundaries

June 19, 2017 Comments Off on Sarah Punshon, the new artistic director of The Dukes in Lancaster, talks diversity and a disregard for boundaries

“It’s hard to put me in a box because my career has been so varied, which makes me a great match for The Dukes,” says Sarah Punshon, the new artistic director of the Lancaster venue

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Rose, by Martin Sherman

Review: Rose, HOME, Manchester

June 8, 2017 Comments Off on Review: Rose, HOME, Manchester

Rose is by Martin Sherman, a playwright who’s perhaps best-known for his Pulitzer Prize-nominated play Bent exploring the persecution of homosexuals during the Holocaust.

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Daphnes Flight

Northern Soul talks to Christine Collister from folk band Daphne’s Flight

May 19, 2017 Comments Off on Northern Soul talks to Christine Collister from folk band Daphne’s Flight

At around about the time of ‘the great roots rock scare’ of the 80s and early 90s, one of the most familiar faces and admired voices around the Manchester music scene was that of Helen Watson.

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Review: La Strada, The Lowry, Salford

May 19, 2017 Comments Off on Review: La Strada, The Lowry, Salford

At a time when the sort of ‘classic’ film that’s adapted into a stage show is more likely than not to be some 70s or 80s confection with feelgood singalong potential, it’s cheering that La Strada, based on a genuine classic of world cinema, even exists.

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The cast of Winter Hill -Photo by Ray Jefferson, Bolton Camera Club- Winter Hill-057

Women writing, women talking, women directing, women acting: Winter Hill at Bolton Octagon

May 2, 2017 Comments Off on Women writing, women talking, women directing, women acting: Winter Hill at Bolton Octagon

Five years ago the head of the new writing department at Bolton’s Octagon Theatre decided, along with her counterparts at Manchester’s Royal Exchange and the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, to work with Salford University to co-deliver an MA course in playwriting.

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