Writer/performer Ann Brown has a story to tell. Her story. As we take our seats she’s already front and centre, waiting for us with a big, welcoming smile. It’s a subtle nod to the fact that even the most outgoing, seemingly confident person can go through the trauma that unfolds in ‘Green Door’.
Lulu, British pop’s most enduring diva, is currently touring the UK with a show that chronologically covers each of her six (yes SIX) decades in music, from the swinging 60s to the present. The result is a beautifully put together retrospective providing a feast of nostalgia for fans old and new.
Pop music in the 80s didn’t exactly brim with insightful lyrics. Stock Aitken Waterman were major culprits (couldn’t they have found another word to rhyme with ‘lucky’?) but then again, the charm of the pop single is often that it is disposable and throwaway. One band that has always bucked this trend are Pet Shop Boys.
For us long-time Kylie devotees, this show felt like a defining moment. A lap of honour at the end of a year full of reasons to celebrate – reaching the big 5-0, racking up three decades in the music business, and enjoying her most successful musical reinvention (country pop) in years. Our girl has come a long way. As she delightedly pointed out, this was her 32nd appearance at the Manchester Arena, the most times she’s performed at any venue.
What it means to be gay has been dissected and analysed every which way in theatre over the past 30-odd years. As times have changed so have the experiences portrayed in drama. Alexi Kaye Campbell’s The Pride compares the difficulties that gay men faced in 1958 and 2008. Its strength is that it doesn’t delve into the political and health areas so often covered in LGBTQ+ writing. The key theme here is far simpler than that: loneliness.
As a student in the early 90s, I spent three summers working in the Edinburgh Fringe box office. At the time, one of the ‘must see’ new stand-ups was Jo Brand. She was blunt, in your face, could fell a heckler with a glare and was very, very funny.
I recently met someone who told me they never listened to music. I immediately knew we could never be friends. Without music, there’s no soul, no rhythm, no feeling of unbridled joy when you hear a song for the first time and just know it’s going to be with you forever. ‘Loop’ by Alexander Knott beautifully captures the pleasure of pop across three generations of family.
“I blame my mother for my poor sex life. All she told me was the man goes on top, the woman goes on the bottom. I bought bunk beds.” – Joan Rivers. Although it’s 2018, sex still causes a stir. It’s no surprise then that Frank Wedekind’s play Spring Awakening caused such controversy back in 1891. The piece includes a grand slam of hot button issues such as child abuse, suicide, back street abortion, the perils of puberty…and that’s for just for starters.
1978 punk film Jubilee set out to shock with violence, nudity and strong language. Nearly 40 years later, the 2017 play features more of the same but shocks for a different reason
The performance area is pure vaudeville. Light bulbs frame a catwalk of wooden floorboards stretching back into a proscenium of darkness from where the players emerge and retreat.
The space exudes the feeling of anticipation that something special is about to happen and happen it most certainly did.
So much has been written about women from the male perspective that it’s hardly a surprise when things are misconstrued.
Freak shines a spotlight on the ever-present male gaze and highlights the effect such perceptions can have on women, including damaging their sense of self.
Rosie Fleeshman could so nearly be the Adele of performance poetry.
Both women write about events which surround the landmark ages in their lives. Thankfully, where the similarity ends is that Fleeshman doesn’t wail on (and on) about the difficult times.
I’m no foodie, as any of my friends will tell you. For me, pushing the culinary boat out means putting mayo on my fish fingers instead of ketchup. And so I ventured into the world of fine dining with a mixture of trepidation and curiosity.
The world is run by harsh individuals, forcing man to fight against man. Love and peace are in short supply and the younger generation are turning to mind-altering drugs to help them cope. But enough of 2016; Hair is set nearly half a century ago.
As another season of sporting achievement draws to a close, we Brits can look back at the Olympics, the Paralympics and Wimbledon with a sense of pride and achievement. But there’s one other competition, held at the tail end of the summer, that eclipses all of the above for importance. I speak, of course, of the World Black Pudding Throwing Championships.
Manchester’s newest theatre space hits the ground running with Parade, the venue’s first in-house production.
The 120-seat Hope Mill Theatre in Ancoats is home to smaller scale work but there’s no denying the high ambition in the staging of this lesser-known musical. Based on true events, Parade is set in 1913 in the bigoted city of Atlanta, Georgia where a young girl has been found dead on Memorial Day. Locals and officials demand that someone – anyone – pays for the crime and they won’t let little things like proof or justice get in the way of a prosecution.
On the cab ride to the gig at The Academy, the driver asked who was on. When I said it was Lulu he replied ‘THE Lulu? Why’s she playing there?’ After seeing the show, the answer was obvious… because she can!
On paper, it sounds confusing. Two American women perform songs that span rap (Gucci Mane, Run DMC) country (George Jones) and tunes from classic songwriters (Joni Mitchell, Rufus Wainwright). Confusing, right?
One of the women is best-known over here as Karen Walker, the shrill socialite with no filter from US TV sit-com Will & Grace. The other is relatively unknown in the UK. They are Megan Mullally and Stephanie Hunt, but together they call themselves Nancy & Beth. Yep, still a head scratcher.
After the success of ‘Parade’ & ‘Hair’, expectations are high for this latest Hope Mill Theatre / Aria Entertainment production and I’m pleased to report that it doesn’t disappoint.
‘Yank!’ by Joseph & David Zellnick is a gorgeous show that you’ll want to clutch to your chest and never let go of. Set at the tail end of World War Two, the story revolves around two men who fall in love whilst enlisted in the US Army.