Culture Manchester Popular culture Preview/review The Arts Theatre

Review: The Jumper Factory at HOME

I do sometimes question why I come away with so many positive feelings, thoughts and, well, reviews, from productions that I’ve been lucky enough to see in theatres in and around Manchester.

Be they performed on a stage in a large auditorium, in a church, in a renovated mill, even in a pub cellar, theatre is about entertainment and it’s about story-telling. It’s about communicating an idea, a vision, a feeling, a message. If you walk away at curtain down (if there is a curtain), with your thoughts provoked or your senses stimulated or even your funny bone triggered, then the entire outfit involved has done its job.

And last night, The Jumper Factory, did just that.

Credit – author

Brought to HOME Mcr by the Young Vic, written by Luke Barnes and directed by Justin Audibert, the 45 minute production requires little fanfare in its manifestation on stage. This is partly due to the 6 fine young actors’ talent, and partly due to the truth, experience, honesty and belief that are clearly the foundations of the show.

Credit – HOME, Young Vic – Leon Puplett

Developed by the Young Vic through a series of workshops with eight prisoners at HMP Wandsworth, The Jumper Factory tells their story. However, not before those same prisoners were given the opportunity to tell it themselves.

Performed in wings around the prison, the feedback was so positive that the eight involved wanted to ensure that their story went beyond those walls and to ‘the outside’, in order to gain an understanding of life ‘inside’.

Added to this grounding in realism and raw material, is the fact that the six young actors; Ayomide Adegun, Raphael Akuwudike, Joe Haddad, Rasaq Kukoyi, Jake Mills and Pierre Moullier (all aged 18-25), on stage last night, not only entered the production with either little or no acting experience, they, like many, have all had their lives touched in varying ways by the criminal justice system.

Credit – HOME, Young Vic – Leon Puplett

This perfect storm of elements results in a show that is authentic, humorous, heartfelt and, yes, entertaining.

As the six form a tag team to tell a tale of one prisoner’s experience of life behind bars and away from his mother, his girlfriend, his step-son (who calls him Daddy 2); each actor took their turn in taking on the main role, the mother, the girlfriend…each performance in a role as believable as the last.

Credit – HOME, Young Vic – Leon Puplett

The story isn’t one of pity, extremities, shock, or controversy, merely a presentation of a life that most of us will never know, but from what good could possibly stem.

As the saying goes,

it is, indeed, what it is.

And what it is is a not to be missed tale told with a combination of truth and talent.

The Jumper Factory runs until this Saturday 14 September. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

To learn more about the Young Vic, visit

cinema Culture Events film Manchester preview The Arts

FilmFear and chills…Film Festival returns to HOME Mcr this Hallowe’en

October is about Hallowe’en and Hallowe’en is basically about films.

Keep your costumes and candy (yes I know we’re British but the whole trick or treating is increasingly of the USA and essentially it was good alliteration.

Last year’s FilmFear brought us many cinematic sensations but most of all Nicolas Cage being more Nicolas Cage than Nicolas Cage has ever or will be, in – ‘Mandy’ at HOME Mcr – review here.

It also brought indie Swedish gem Videoman. – read review here

Credit: HOME Mcr

This year, HOME and Film4, brings us the biggest programme yet, comprising six days of horror, extreme cinema, cult favourites and specialist guests visiting our fine city, kicking off from Tuesday 29 October.

Highlights include:

  • a special preview of The Lighthouse, director Robert Eggers’ much-anticipated follow-up to his folk-horror debut The Witch (2015). Starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as lighthouse keepers battling the elements, isolation, inner demons and more on a remote and mysterious Maine island in the 1890s. Excitingly, the film won’t be on general release until January 2020, giving us Mancunians, honorary Mancunians and visitors to HOME amongst the first to view;
The Lighthouse
  • from the producers of the aforementioned and quite wonderful MandyDaniel Isn’t Real, is a creepy imaginary-friend horror (are there any other kind?), starring Patrick Schwarzenegger;
Daniel Isn’t Real
  • a Hallowe’en night preview of Doctor Sleep, based on the Stephen King novel and starring Ewan McGregor as Danny Torrance, set 40 years after his terrifying stay at the Overlook Hotel in The Shining;
Dr Sleep
  • Billy Senese’s The Dead Center, starring Shane Carruth as a troubled doctor who becomes obsessed with the resurrected corpse of a suicide victim (that scary enough for you?).

Alongside the shiny and new, FilmFear also features three classics:

The Wicker Man
  • Masters of horror, Vincent Price and Christopher Lee (it wouldn’t be Hallowe’en without them), star in classics The Tingler (1959) and The Wicker Man (1973), respectively; and
  • Werner Herzog’s 1979 take on the infamous tale of Nosferatu the Vampyre, which brings the season to a finale on 3 November.

Accompanying the screening programme there is a ‘Bring the Family’ screening of Nicolas Roeg’s The Witches on Sunday 27 October, which has been selected by HOME’s Young Programmers.

The Witches

HOME’s Film Programme Producer, Jennifer Hall, said,

We’re looking forward to serving up another Halloween treat for horror-hungry fans and welcoming audiences of all ages to our first FilmFear “Bring the Family” screening of The Witches, a fitting contribution to the season from HOME’s Young Programmers who have also programmed The Wicker Man.”

For in between your trips to HOME, Film4 will be screening a week of chilling titles including Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! and The Midnight Man, starring Robert Englund.

So head HOME Mcr for hallowe’en this year for FilmFear and chills…

For full details of the programme, visit

Reviews of my favourites to follow…


Food and Drink Manchester preview Preview/review Restaurants

The Fisherman’s Table – pull up a seat as Marple favourite introduces sister restaurant to Poulton-le-Fylde

It probably won’t have escaped your notice that I wasn’t born and bred in Manchester (and surrounding areas).

I mean, the clue’s in the name.

Growing up on the Fylde Coast until moving to Manchester in 2000, I was excited to find my two worlds colliding in the form of a fabulous fish restaurant.

Marple has hosted The Fisherman’s Table since late last year and the restaurant, offering all locally sourced produce, has enjoyed high praise in the short time it’s been open.


And so, like little old me (because this and everything else is about me), the restaurant is straddling the two counties and has opened its second in Lancashire’s Poulton-le-Fylde. Like my good self once upon a time (all about me), owner and fishmonger, Jamie Barrett, lives in the area and couldn’t wait to bring his fine fare back home.


Throwing its doors open proper tonight, Saturday 7 September, I attended last night’s launch to test out the fixtures, fittings, fizz and, most importantly, the fish.


The stylish space is classically furnished in dark wood, with open brick walls adorned with photography, paintings and sculptures depicting the restaurant’s raison d’etre; the sea and all who stem from it.


The assembled Fylde Coastians , a title I’m still entitled to, were treated to (and it was a treat) a selection of teaser canapés and starters from the menu to salivate over. I was going to say ‘and salivate we did’, but this is starting to conjure up a bizarre and frankly unpalatable image.

They were delicious, is what I’m clumsily saying.

We first tried the smoked haddock croquettes with tartare sauce…

Deliciously seasoned, these almost little fishcakes were crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and with a smoky heat beautifully offset by the fresh, light tartare sauce. I could have popped them all night.

Also on offer was the crispy chilli calamari with harissa aoili. With a light batter, the chilli didn’t overpower and provided a tang to the melt in the mouth squid rings.


A new canape on me was the crispy haddock skin with oyster mayonnaise. At the risk of doing it a disservice, it was like a lovely fishy crisp (and I love crisps, to the point of disgrace), with a delicate dip to boot and touches like this are a strong indicator of a kitchen and restaurant which is keen to mix the traditional with the innovative whilst staying faithful to everything that is wonderful about fish and seafood.


Oysters and fizz are one of those classic combinations like cod and lemon, cockles and mussels erm…Vic and Bob. Whilst in the early 19th century, oysters were actually cheap and seen as one of the almost staple foods of the working classes, they are now a sign of decadence and never more so when taken with a glass of sparkling wine. The selection of Pacific Rock Oysters on offer last night typified the establishment’s approach to dining – classic, stylish but, most of all, delicious.


A launch is intended to provide a taster, a suggestion, a spoiler, even, of what’s to come from something new be it a restaurant, bar, festival or hotel. And from my couple of hours spent at The Fisherman’s Table, they have me hooked.

Pun, fully intended but heartfelt.


The menu proper is select but a perfectly balanced deep dive into all the glories to be found in our seas. Importantly, step forward one Irish Sea, from which local Fleetwood fish is rightly represented in dishes such as Fleetwood Smoked Haddock and Clam Chowder on the starters and Seared Fleetwood  Skate Wing with Clams, Samphire and Capers on the mains.

The menu also draws on neighbour Morecambe, as the Bay’s famous Brown Shrimps make an appearance in the selection of sides.

I look forward to drawing up a seat at The Fisherman’s Table proper and for those in Greater Manchester, hotfoot it into Marple quick smart.

For those on the Fylde Coast and surrounding areas, head over to the gastronomic stretch that is Breck Road, to this fantastic addition to the area’s dining scene.

For me? I like to think of myself as having dual citizenship to the two counties, something I now have in common with The Fisherman’s Table. Whilst I would never dare suggest I’m an asset to either, I would venture that to Greater Manchester and Lancashire, The Fisherman’s Table is a great catch.


To be one of the first to book in at The Fisherman’s Table in Poulton and to see full details of the menu, head to

You can also book at the inaugural Marple restaurant here, and see why in 10 short months, the Fisherman’s Table has been nominated for two awards at the