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Film Review: Mrs Lowry & Son

One of my favourite sketches, amongst thousands (which, incidentally, does not include the bloody parrot one), is Monty  Python’s irreverent (could it be anything else) look at working class life:

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2q1ojy

Turning matters on their head, whilst t’father in ‘is rolled up sleeves, braces and britches, sweats over his work as an award-winning playwright in ‘ampstead, his well spoken son who previously has gone ‘poncing off to Barnsley’ to be a coal miner, returns home. Concerned about his mum, he exclaims

Look at what you’ve done to mother! She’s worn out with meeting film stars, attending premieres and giving gala luncheons…

Well there’s nowt wrong with gala luncheons, as Graham Chapman furiously retorts, and to that end, nowt wrong with gala premieres.

And so (somewhat tenuously), we come to the Gala Premiere showing of Mrs Lowry & Son, at, where else, Salford’s very own Lowry Theatre.

Starring the wonderful (and no introduction-warranting) actors Vanessa Redgrave and Timothy Spall in the title roles, the Adrian Noble directed film takes us to Pendlebury and almost exclusively to an elderly Elizabeth Lowry’s bedroom where, from a bed, she relies on  (how much this is actually required is unclear and a point which Redgrave refused to speculate on during the Q&A following the screening), berates and manipulates her ever-patient but very much grown up bachelor son.

Exuding regality (and extreme fragility when, perhaps suited), Redgrave’s Mrs Lowry is quick to criticise her son’s ‘hobby’ and any artistic aspirations (which, would always be quiet and humble) he may dare to have. Indeed any praise or commendation is reserved for the buying of sausages from the ‘correct’ butchers (although did he buy them from the father or the son in the shop because this is important…).

As we see Mrs Lowry bemoan the fact that her previous middle class standing had given way to what she sees as a low class existence in 1930s Pendlebury,

I haven’t been cheerful since 1898

the irony is, of course, there in spades, given the reverence, value and respect in the history of art which was to come to one L.S….

Occasionally venturing outside the terraced house and into the streets as our Laurie goes about his day job collecting debt, the film is careful not to litter the screen with obvious and clichéd nods. We’re not bombarded with matchstick men, cats and dogs in the frame, but we do see landscapes and scenes of inspiration for paintings which were to become.

As Timothy Spall so beautifully put it in the Q&A, Lowry saw the ‘gorgeous decreptitude’ in his surroundings.

That can only sound like an oxymoron if you’ve never seen one of his paintings. Then it makes perfect sense.

One direct and glorious reference we are treated to in the film, deals us a live version of  one of my favourite Lowrys…

Lowry was to turn down a knighthood, later in life, reasoning that as his then late mother wasn’t there to see it, there wasn’t a point. One wonders what Mrs Lowry would have thought (perhaps even if it was secretly, dressed up in critique), were she to witness her son’s legacy – right up to last night’s Gala Premiere.

Whilst we’ll never know for sure, with writer Martyn Hesford’s screenplay, we’re probably as close as dammit to guessing.

Mrs Lowry & Son is released in cinemas nationwide from  Friday 30 August.

The permanent and rather wonderful exhibition L.S. Lowry The Art & The Artist at, where else, The Lowry, is open daily and free to visit. See thelowry.com for details.

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Preview: Jon Sopel – Inside Trump’s White House (Penguin live)

If like me (I do miss Denis Norden – I interviewed him by fax once…) you are obsessed with all things West Wing (including The West Wing), you’ll be fascinated by the upcoming book by BBC North America Editor, Jon Sopel, A Year at the Circus.

Not only that, you’ll be fascinated to get a foot in the door to both the book and the Oval Office itself, via Penguin Live’s event, Inside Trump’s White House, with the man himself (that is, Jon Sopel) on 18 September 2019, at The Dancehouse Theatre.

Taking us through his experiences as a reporter in the infamous Briefing Room, Jon will bring to life what it’s like to be part of the press pack as Trump’s presidency plays out and tensions continue to soar between him and the media.

Jon will also reveal the real-life inner workings of the White House and share moments, conversations and revelations he’s been privy to during his enviable (or should that be unenviable) proximity to the POTUS (yes I watch all of the Washington dramas).

For more details and your ticket to Trump (so to speak), visit https://www.thedancehouse.co.uk/events/2019/251-jon-sopel

See you there…

To read about previous Penguin Live events, see below:

Review: Paul Mason’s Clear Bright Future – Penguin Live

Penguin Pride – less a review, more a tribute

 

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Culture Manchester preview The Arts

Arts news: Cézanne at The Whitworth

An extraordinary collection of drawings and prints by Paul Cézanne (1839 – 1906) are to be exhibited at The Whitworth, Manchester, from 24 August 2019 to 1 March 2020.

Paul Cézanne, Self Portrait (c. 1895-96), lithograph. Presented to the Whitworth by Karsten Schubert in 2019.

Gifted and place on long-term loan to the Whitworth by gallerist, collector, author and publisher Karsten Schubert,  this means that the Whitworth now impressively holds the best collection of Cézanne works on paper in the United Kingdom.

Cézanne is considered to be one of the most influential artists of the nineteenth century, no mean feat to be described by both Matisse and Picasso as ‘the father of us all’. 

Whilst renowned for his approach to building form with colour, this exhibition focuses on drawings and prints, highlighting the artist’s wider range. Interestingly (but not  unusually), Cézanne’s work was never exhibited in his lifetime, but only discovered after his death.

Paul Cézanne, The Bathers (Large Plate), (1896-97), colour lithograph. Presented to the Whitworth by Karsten Schubert in 2019.

 

Paul Cézanne, Paul Guillaumin Au Pendu (1873). etching. Presented to the Whitworth by Karsten Schubert in 2019.

These works significantly expands the Whitworth’s collection of late nineteenth-century French and Dutch drawings by artists including Van Gogh, Suerat, Gaugin and Pissarro – whose portrait of Cézanne’s will be displayed as part of this exhibition.

The Whitworth itself reopened to the public in 2015 after a major £17 million redevelopment. Since then, it has seen over one million visitors passing through its impressive doors and houses over 55,000 works of art.

If you haven’t already been, head over to this fantastic space in our city and make the Cézanne exhibition your first visit of what is sure to be many.

If you have, then well you’ll know. And I’ll see you there.

For more information, visit https://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/upcomingexhibitions/cezanneatthewhitworth/

A previous visit from the archives: https://memoirsofalaura.wordpress.com/2017/04/17/its-not-all-soup-cans-and-marilyn-or-why-warhol-is-our-leader/

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Culture Events LGBT LGBTQ+ Literature Manchester News Popular culture preview The Arts Theatre

Preview: Penguin Pride 2019 (part of Pride at HOME)

Last year I shared my immense joy at what was an evening of entertainment, enlightenment, education and laughter (I couldn’t find a synonym for lolz beginning with ‘e’, ok?):

Penguin Pride – less a review, more a tribute

Well it’s back and I’ll be there and you should be too. And I’ll tell you for why…

This year, Penguin Pride will take place on Wednesday 21 August at my own home from home – erm, HOME.

In this, the year commemorating 50 years since Stonewall, Penguin Pride will be looking back and celebrating how far LGBT rights have come, where we are now and what the future may hold.

This year’s line-up includes a mix of old and new Penguins Live faces:

Multi-award winning poet and playwright, Toby Campion, returns as MC and yes, you may have even seen him outside that photo booth in those adverts with his BFF…

Other writers and performers taking part include award-winning Yorkshire poet Andrew McMillan, arts writer and Attitude columnist Paul Flynn, Glasgow based author, Kirsty Logan, Liverpool based writer, Emma Morgan and LGBTQ+ writer roo

For full details and tickets, head to https://homemcr.org/production/penguin-pride/

To read about last year’s event which included performances from this year’s Toby Campion, Paul Flynn, Kirsty Logan and Andrew McMillan, head here to Penguin Pride – less a review, more a tribute

If it’s half as good as last year’s, I’ll run out of superlatives.

See you there…

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Culture Events Manchester Popular culture preview The Arts Theatre

Preview: Dracula – The Blood Count of Heaton

Last summer I spent a very happy evening wandering round Heaton Park, not lost (although I’ve done that too), but at Romeo and Juliet – a production that took its audience to different locations round the park giving depth and reality to the oft told tale.

So this year I’m thrilled that I’ll get to do this again, swapping the Bard for Bram Stoker as Feelgood Theatre presents Dracula – The Blood Count of Heaton.

Celebrating their 25th anniversary, this is the show Feelgood’s audiences voted they’d most like to see again – so it already comes complete with a glowing recommendation.

A contemporary reimagining of the classic tale, we’re promised hypnotic music, vibrant dance, magic and illusion created by Peter Clifford who has worked with Derren Brown and David Blaine – impressive!

Not only that but Clifford takes on the title role so we’re in for a treat!

Audiences are encouraged to dress the part, with a prize given each night for the best costume – so polish those fangs and dust off your capes.

On until 11 August, tickets can be purchased from http://www.jumblebee.co.uk/Dracula or in person from the Farm Centre Cafe in Heaton Park.

For more information, head to http://www.feelgoodtheatre.co.uk/

Now where’s that wooden stake.