Northern Soul

Blogs

Review: The Range, Spinningfields, Manchester

September 14, 2019 No Comments

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.

Share Button
Read the full story..

Red Dust Road National Theatre of Scotland / HomeEdinburgh International Festival

Theatre Review: Red Dust Road, HOME, Manchester

September 14, 2019 No Comments

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

golden-star golden-star golden-star

 

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.

Share Button

bees drinking nectar, Manchester Cathedral

Fleetneedles Forage: Heavenly Hives at Manchester Cathedral

September 10, 2019 No Comments

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.

Share Button
Read the full story..

Jackie Kay (photo by Denise Else)

“A reader has their own way of interpreting your whole story.” Poet Jackie Kay talks to Northern Soul

September 9, 2019 No Comments

Jackie Kay’s 2010 acclaimed memoir Red Dust Road is the story of a journey as Kay comes to terms with the fact that she’s adopted and gradually wends her way from Scotland to Nigeria in search of her birth parents. But the book has since gone on a journey of its own.

Share Button
Read the full story..

A Superior Spectre: Angela Meyer in conversation with Jane Bradley, Blackwell’s, Manchester

September 6, 2019 No Comments

Historical fiction isn’t my cup of tea.

Share Button
Read the full story..

Plastic

The real climate change bullies – and why we should support Greta Thunberg

September 6, 2019 No Comments

Hypocrite is the latest buzzword.

Share Button
Read the full story..

Gin

Hamiltonic: Bolton Gin and Rum Festival

September 4, 2019 No Comments

Sunday was the day of rest, according to biblical doctrine.

Share Button
Read the full story..

Little Bird

A Little Bird says…democracy is under threat

September 3, 2019 No Comments

In a new series of editorials where leading writers are free to say what they want under a pen name, Little Bird writes about democracy. 

Share Button
Read the full story..

Mrs Lowry & Son, The Lowry, Salford

Film Review: The Gala Premiere of Mrs Lowry & Son, The Lowry, Salford

August 31, 2019 Comments Off on Film Review: The Gala Premiere of Mrs Lowry & Son, The Lowry, Salford

L.S. Lowry was in his early fifties by the time his artwork started to find widespread acclaim, before which he’d painted privately at home, only for his elderly mother to be dismissive of his talents.

Share Button
Read the full story..

Rife – Twenty-One Stories from Britain’s Youth edited by Nikesh Shukla and Sammy Jones

Book Review: Rife – Twenty-One Stories from Britain’s Youth edited by Nikesh Shukla and Sammy Jones

August 29, 2019 Comments Off on Book Review: Rife – Twenty-One Stories from Britain’s Youth edited by Nikesh Shukla and Sammy Jones

It’s no exaggeration to say that young people in the UK are facing uncertain and daunting times.

Share Button
Read the full story..