Northern Soul

Monthly Archives: September 2019

9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL. Amber Davies 'Judy Burnly' (2). Photo Pamela Raith

Theatre Review: 9 to 5 The Musical, Palace Theatre, Manchester

September 18, 2019 Comments Off on Theatre Review: 9 to 5 The Musical, Palace Theatre, Manchester

I am a Dolly Parton superfan.

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Count Arthur Strong

“I think kids like to see an old bloke behaving disgracefully.” Steve Delaney talks Twitter, telly and being Count Arthur Strong

September 16, 2019 Comments Off on “I think kids like to see an old bloke behaving disgracefully.” Steve Delaney talks Twitter, telly and being Count Arthur Strong

Back in July, Steve Delaney’s Twitter feed lit up, as it tends to from time to time, with another wave of the rolling debate about which version of his character Count Arthur Strong is the best.

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Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2019 launch, Bistrotheque

Review: Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2019 launch, Bistrotheque

September 16, 2019 Comments Off on Review: Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2019 launch, Bistrotheque

On my way to the launch of Manchester’s 22nd Food & Drink Festival, I ponder whether Manchester could become the Lyon of the North.

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Three Little Words Bar

Food and Drink Review: Three Little Words, Manchester

September 16, 2019 Comments Off on Food and Drink Review: Three Little Words, Manchester

There was a time when Watson Street was the preserve of garages and mechanics, a through road for MOTs and traffic avoiding the gridlock on Deansgate.

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Dragon detail. Photo by Martin Cook

Picture Gallery: Dudley Edwards, I’ve Got Rhythm, RedHouse Originals Gallery, Harrogate

September 16, 2019 Comments Off on Picture Gallery: Dudley Edwards, I’ve Got Rhythm, RedHouse Originals Gallery, Harrogate

A new exhibition is coming to RedHouse Originals Gallery in Harrogate that’s guaranteed to get you moving.

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Manchester Art Fair 2018

Win a pair of tickets to the exclusive preview evening of Aviva Investors Manchester Art Fair

September 16, 2019 Comments Off on Win a pair of tickets to the exclusive preview evening of Aviva Investors Manchester Art Fair

Win a pair of tickets to the exclusive preview evening of Aviva Investors Manchester Art Fair.

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Review: The Range, Spinningfields, Manchester

September 14, 2019 Comments Off on Review: The Range, Spinningfields, Manchester

Picture the scene: a luxury indoor golf club with five state-of-the-art simulators, the choice of more than 80 of the world’s top golf courses with built-in swing analysis, multiple settings including wind direction, real time weather, different tees, altitude, temperature…the list goes on.

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Red Dust Road National Theatre of Scotland / HomeEdinburgh International Festival

Theatre Review: Red Dust Road, HOME, Manchester

September 14, 2019 Comments Off on Theatre Review: Red Dust Road, HOME, Manchester

Ever since it was published nearly ten years ago, Jackie Kay’s memoir Red Dust Road has been in on-off development as a stage play. As a project, it’s a big ask. The book follows Kay’s journey of discovery as an adopted child from Scotland to Nigeria, taking in a whole host of different times, places and people along the way. Now the stage version, adapted by Tanika Gupta and directed by Dawn Walton, arrives at HOME in Manchester after several Scottish dates. In the event it’s very easy to like, but harder to adore.

It’s extremely ambitious, using a minimum of devices and trickery to conjure up Kay’s tale. The achievements of the cast vary, but as Kay’s adoptive parents, Lewis Howden and the mighty Elaine C. Smith loom large, proving to be the life and soul of the piece, appropriately enough. As Kay herself, Sasha Frost is an appealing presence, all the more impressive because she doesn’t have a great deal to go on. It’s an oddly slight, underwritten part. As events unfold, Jackie remains simply, unremittingly nice, with no edge and hence no depth to her, emerging almost as a bystander to proceedings rather than the protagonist.

The shape of the narrative has a similar problem in terms of drawing in the audience. Kay’s story is by no means a conventional quest, but one key destination point – meeting her birth father Jonathan (Stefan Adegbola) – is thrown in almost at the start, pulling away any sense of anticipation or dramatic tension. Frustratingly, the scene even begins after the first moment of meeting, so we never get to see it.

Red Dust Road ©The Other RichardTo be fair, Red Dust Road is aiming to create a subtle, lyrical tapestry, leaping back and forth in terms of time and place. In that respect though it’s an uphill struggle, not helped by the curious lack of enveloping intimacy in the HOME theatre space. It’s hard to feel engaged by Jackie’s tusslings with her roots and identity when they meander so, never settling in one setting for long enough to  resolve in a satisfying way. That said, individual scenes often feel long and woolly and overall the piece, which runs at two and a half hours, lacks a concerted sense of pace and snap. 

The second half coalesces a little better than the first, and it’s never less than enjoyable, with some great lines and decent laughs. Along the way there are some elegant, beguiling moments but for all the boldness and ambition on show here, it remains pleasant but underwhelming. There might be a much better play in there somewhere, or possibly Kay’s wide-ranging, highly personal memoir just poses insurmountable hurdles where staging is concerned.

By Andy Murray

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Red Dust Road is at HOME, Manchester until September 21, 2019. For more information, click here.

To read Andy’s interview with Jackie Kay, click here.

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Theatre Review: Malory Towers, York Theatre Royal

September 14, 2019 Comments Off on Theatre Review: Malory Towers, York Theatre Royal

Dear Mummy and Daddy,

I’m not quite sure what to make of my first term here at Malory Towers. It is very big and some of us whose desks are at the side can’t see everything that happens in the classroom. And it does seem odd that they didn’t finish painting the wood round the swimming pool before term started. The girls in the dorm are all SUPER, apart from one who is very snooty and a bully and none of us like her, at least we didn’t at the beginning. We spent a lot of the first half of term singing and jumping on our beds, but it got a bit boring as nothing much really happened for AGES.

There’s a really super person called Wilhelmina who likes to be called Bill and has a horse called Thunder. Bill saved the day, actually, when Gwendoline, the bully, behaved really badly to Mary Lou, and something terrible nearly occurred. I’m not sure what it was that happened – it was high up and I couldn’t see.

Then we put on the school play. We chose A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. It was OK. It had music especially written by Mirabelle, who is AMAZING. She sings and plays instruments and is “vraiment Francaise”. Alicia is the oldest and tells terrible jokes. The bossiest girl is Sally. She’s probably the cleverest and she makes everyone laugh all the time without telling any jokes at all. Darrell is the bravest and tries to protect Mary Lou, who is the wettest, and I like them all very much.

But then another thing happened. Our headmistress, Miss Grayling, whom I have never met but sounds exactly like a famous actress you like called Sheila Hancock, summoned Gwendoline to her study, and when Gwen came out she was crying, because she’d had BAD NEWS and then we all understood why she had been so nasty.

So Mummy and Daddy, just to say that I’ve been a bit bored some of the time, but the other girls, who are all A LOT younger than me, absolutely love it. And the school songs are REALLY GOOD.

Lots of love

Chrissy

PS Please send me some chocolate and an apple for Thunder.

(By Chris Wallis, Theatre Editor)

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For more info, click here.

Photo by Steve Tanner

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bees drinking nectar, Manchester Cathedral

Fleetneedles Forage: Heavenly Hives at Manchester Cathedral

September 10, 2019 Comments Off on Fleetneedles Forage: Heavenly Hives at Manchester Cathedral

Since cultivating my bee garden, I’ve grown increasingly interested in the life cycle of bees. I’ve fancied doing a beekeeping course for ages so I was over the moon to be able to visit the hives at Manchester Cathedral.

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