Northern Soul

Articles relating to: Manchester

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.

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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

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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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Peterloo Memorial

“Rebooting democracy”: Northern Soul attends the Peterloo Anniversary Weekend

August 19, 2019 Comments Off on “Rebooting democracy”: Northern Soul attends the Peterloo Anniversary Weekend

“Let’s reboot democracy,” the man on the microphone says, to a loud roar of cheers from the crowd.

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Lightspace - A Year in The Round, Colin Taylor, Royal Exchange, Manchester

Photo Gallery: Lightspace – A Year in The Round, Colin Taylor, Royal Exchange, Manchester

August 19, 2019 Comments Off on Photo Gallery: Lightspace – A Year in The Round, Colin Taylor, Royal Exchange, Manchester

Theatre never fails to inspire, and for artist Colin Taylor one theatre in particular has influenced a series of stunning images: the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.

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Production shot 5 - jerry Springer The Opera - credit Anthony Robling

Theatre Review: Jerry Springer – The Musical, Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester

August 16, 2019 Comments Off on Theatre Review: Jerry Springer – The Musical, Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester

Not that long ago, in 2006, when Jerry Springer – The Opera, Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee’s outlandish and provocative satire of over-the-top tabloid chat shows, first toured this country, outraged citizens (who in all probability hadn’t actually seen the show but knew in their hearts that they should definitely be outraged) demonstrated long and hard outside any regional theatres who had the balls to mount the show – sorry, this sort of stuff does seem to be catching after all.

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Food Review: Dishoom, Manchester

August 13, 2019 Comments Off on Food Review: Dishoom, Manchester

There are some things you don’t mess with.

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LUSH Manchester Market Street

Plastic not so fantastic: Lush Manchester gets naked

August 7, 2019 Comments Off on Plastic not so fantastic: Lush Manchester gets naked

Sustainability has become a marketing buzzword.

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Theatre Review: Amélie The Musical, Opera House, Manchester

August 7, 2019 Comments Off on Theatre Review: Amélie The Musical, Opera House, Manchester

I’ve pondered before in these pages on the apparently insatiable appetite of musical theatre producers for hit films that can be transformed into stage hits.

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Win a pair of tickets to see Martin Kemp as he goes Back to the 80s at Manchester Academy

August 5, 2019 Comments Off on Win a pair of tickets to see Martin Kemp as he goes Back to the 80s at Manchester Academy

Win a pair of tickets to see Martin Kemp as he goes Back to the 80s at Manchester Academy.

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Olly Dobson and Bob Gale Pic copyright Phil Tragen 2019

“If you want to see the movie, see the movie.” Bob Gale talks to Northern Soul about Back to the Future – The Musical

July 25, 2019 Comments Off on “If you want to see the movie, see the movie.” Bob Gale talks to Northern Soul about Back to the Future – The Musical

Here’s the thing. The blockbuster film Back To The Future was first released in 1985, starring Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, a rock ‘n’ roll-loving teenager who is accidentally transported back to 1955 in a time-travelling DeLorean (ask your parents) invented by his friend, Dr Emmett Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd.

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