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Preview: Ghost Walks and Stories and Pig heads. Oh my…

Friday nights can get a bit samey, don’t you think?

Don’t get me wrong, they definitely remain my favourite night of the week.

Ever since my school days when even the best telly was on on a Friday when you got home – Scooby Doo was on on a Friday. Byker Grove was on on a Friday. Scooby Doo, pop and crisps. My pop might have taken on a more let’s say…complex composition, the crisps a bit more restaurant or Chinese takeaway like, but the thrill of the Friday pm is here to stay.

But sometimes you want something a bit special. And last Friday was that something a bit special.

Would you like to attend a ghost walk?

asked The Lowry.

Yes please.

Around the Quays?

Absolutely.

In honour of the forthcoming successful stage play ‘Ghost Stories’, as written by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman?

Christ yes.

And added to this was the news that said Ghost Walk was to be hosted by noted Manchester writer, author, tour guide, Jonathan Schofield which was the, erm, novelty straw in the lemonade of my prospective Friday night. It wasn’t my first Jonathan Schofield walking tour rodeo, you see (Check out the Altrincham Pub Tour on my sister blog).

And so it was on that chilly (bloody freezing) Friday night, did a group of us gather at The Lowry, ready to be taken on a tour of the surrounding Quays. A ghost stories amuse bouche to Ghost Stories, if you like.

If you are accustomed to Jonathan Schofield’s tours, you won’t need me to tell you that you are given not only a history lesson of the city (in this case we officially straddle two cities – Salford and Manchester) you love, but one that is peppered with dry asides and anecdotes which keep you captivated and laughing as you learn a little more about the locality (including, in this case, the more dark and dangerous dimensions to boot).

Most noted in this particular area is the tragic tale of 20 year old Lavinia Robinson, who, in 1813, went missing from her sister’s home in Bridge Street, just before Christmas after a furious row with her fiancé, William Holroyd.

It was a particularly cold winter that year, causing the River Irwell to freeze over (see Ciara’s not that bad). And so it was a terrible find for one lock keeper when several weeks later, the river thawed and Lavinia’s body was discovered, perfectly preserved in ice…

The funeral took place at St. John’s Manchester and buried in the gardens there. Where I used to eat my sandwiches when I worked at the old Granada Studios on Quay Street.

Nice.

But it never was determined whether Lavinia’s tragic end was at her own hand, or that of another, namely her betrothed.

If you take a walk over the bridge towards the new Coronation Street set, you can see the locks where her body was found, hair frozen to what was the river bank, where work had begun to turn it into a canal.

However, it is on Bridge Street on the anniversary of her deaths where the ghostly goings-on took place…

As Jonathan explains (better than I could…)

And what of the pig head?

Well you’ll have to take one of Jonathan’s tours to find out (I know, I’m a swine. And I know, that’s a terrible joke).

And if your appetite is whetted for a good old Ghost Story, over by the Quays, there’s more to come in the shape of Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s massively acclaimed stage show.

In part 2 (yes, and there’s a part 3), I’ll share more, including a few words from the man himself when I spoke to Jeremy Dyson about the ghostly tour he took himself, and what inspires him to write such fiendly good horror…

To find out more about Jonathan Schofield’s Manchester walking tours, please visit https://www.jonathanschofieldtours.com/

For details of Ghost Stories, coming to The Lowry 18 – 22 February, including booking information, please visit https://thelowry.com/whats-on/ghost-stories/

To be continued…

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Celebrity Culture Manchester Popular culture preview Preview/review The Arts Theatre

Review: The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel – HOME Mcr

Charlie Chaplin.

He was instrumental in my phonics education.

He was. And clearly on my cultural radar, and thus important to me, at a very young age (thank you mum and dad).

5 years old and engaged in a word game with my parents. The rules being thus – say the initials of a famous person and the others have to guess who it is.

That’s it – a simple game. Certainly no Johnny Go Go Go Go (one for the League of Gentlemen fans).

However, the way I played it threw quite the spanner in the works when after hours (probably ten minutes actually) of my parents trying to guess my…

T.T.

They were to finally give up. And I was to triumphantly reveal the correct answer…

Tyarlie Tyaplin.

Quite.

Still what I lacked in phonics, I clearly made up for in taste and so it continues to be that Charlie Chaplin is one of my heroes.

And so onto the review.

As told by erm Told by an Idiot and Theatre Royal Plymouth , The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel is a curious (read brilliant) story of a time when two icons of early Hollywood came together as part of the infamous Fred Karno music hall troupe.

Setting sail for New York in 1910, Charlie and Stan shared a cabin and were to spend two years together touring North America, with Stan as Charlie’s less successful understudy.

Whilst Charlie was to become one of the most famous people in the world within three years, Stan returned home. However, as we all know, fate decreed that he would meet Ollie, thus producing arguably, the greatest double act of all time.

There is a sad epitaph to the tale of Charlie and Stan. Whereas Stan talked about Charlie all his life, in return, Stan didn’t even warrant a footnote in Charlie’s detailed autobiography.

There is a nod to this fact in the production, in two clever opposing scenes set in 1957 when we see the two friends happily reunited (only for the scene to be repeated with the reality…)

In fact this is what the production so well. The Strange tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel brings in the ‘strange’ with wonderfully colourful and imaginative scenes adding layers of fiction upon the fact, in order to bring the best of silent, slapstick imagery worthy of their films and the music hall tradition of their beginnings.

The four members of cast blind you with their talent, be it mime, song, musicianship, comedy and pathos.

Turning their hands to anything, the show keeps you spellbound as 1hr 40mins flies by as the tale is told by whatever means at their disposal (a simple set doubling up for a ship, stage, Hollywood mansion, London hotel, you name it.

Clever yet simple devices such as luggage emblazoned with names tell you all you need to know, other dialogue replaced with movement, music and song and good old silent cinematic devices such as a projector screen.

But surely the little moustache would tell you who’s just entered stage left?! I hear you cry.

Well no, because even though Amalia Vitale who plays Chaplin comes to epitomise Chaplin from the beginning, the ‘Little Tramp’ costume isn’t relied on. So scarily like Chaplin is Vitale, false moustaches aren’t required to carry her; she becomes the icon purely via inflections and movement (that cane does creep in though, but that’s ok – the job’s done and he does get older throughout the show after all).

The other members of the cast – Nick Haverson, Jerome Marsh-Reid and Sara Alexander – play multiple characters (and instruments) and together the outfit brings a multitude of varied talents to the tale throughout including a whole lot of laughter from the audience.

There’s even some audience participation but if like me you’d rather hide under a rock, please don’t worry. Just don’t admit to being able to play the piano or sit on the front row. And to be fair? They all looked like they were enjoying their brief cameos in the show!

I did wonder why the production hadn’t been weighted equally between the title characters but then again, there is a clue in the production poster when ‘Stan’s face is covered by a bowler hat.

I would garner that this is all symbolic of their relationship and mentions of thereafter – Chaplin never acknowledging Stan, Chaplin’s success as a solo artist and therefore the production echoing this in its narrative.

Who knows. But what I do know is that I, and I’m willing to bet my fellow theatre-goers all loved the very different but very entertaining show that is The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel.

The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel is on at HOME Mcr until this Saturday 8 February 2020.

More information including booking details can be found at https://homemcr.org/production/the-strange-tale-of-charlie-chaplin-and-stan-laurel/

Tyeck it out.

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cinema film Manchester preview Preview/review

Film Review: Queen & Slim

Queen and Slim is Crash, meets Bonnie and Clyde, meets True Romance.

But most of all it’s Queen & Slim.

Copyright: Universal Pictures

Read my view of Queen & Slim on my sister blog What the Projectionist Saw –

https://whattheprojectionistsaw.wordpress.com/2020/01/30/review-queen-and-slim/

Copyright: Universal Pictures

Opening in cinemas across Greater Manchester from 31 January 2020 including

https://www.myvue.com/film/queen-and-slim

Home MCR

https://www.everymancinema.com/film-info/queen-slim

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cinema film Manchester Popular culture preview Preview/review

Film Review: The Personal History of David Copperfield

Dickens, eh?

Have you ever noticed the sheer amount of old English pubs which boast the accolade that Charles Dickens once drank there?

It’s a wonder he got anything done.

Well done he did and one of the things wot he done was David Copperfield. And now Armando Iannucci did done it too.

Read my review of The Personal History of David Copperfield on my sister blog What the Projectionist Saw –

https://whattheprojectionistsaw.wordpress.com/2020/01/19/review-the-personal-history-of-david-copperfield/

Opening in cinemas across Greater Manchester from 24 January 2019 including

https://www.myvue.com/cinema/manchester-printworks/whats-on

https://www.myvue.com/cinema/manchester/whats-on

https://mobi.odeon.co.uk/cinemas/manchester_great_northern/225/

https://www.everymancinema.com/film-info/members-the-personal-history-of-david-copperfield

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Culture Events News People Popular culture preview Preview/review The Arts

Preview: HOME is where the People’s Art is – the first Manchester Open Exhibition

Whilst works, appreciation, opinions and afforded gravitas come in all shapes and sizes, art should be inclusive and HOME is bringing this ethos to life by celebrating the amazing talent of Greater Manchester.

In the first region-wide exhibition of its type, HOME welcomed submissions from all across all 10 boroughs, for the inaugural Manchester Open Exhibition which opens tomorrow, Saturday 18 January and runs until 15 March 2020.

Justine Le Joncour – Newton Street

The exhibition sees entries from all levels of experience; established artists, new and emerging talent, enthusiastic amateurs and first-time artists.

Ben Goring – Rich

Gwen Evans – Ar Lan Y Mor (By the Seaside)

With over 2000 pieces submitted, over 500 works were selected by a special panel which included HOME curator, Bren O’Callaghan and Helen Wewiora, Director of Castlefield Gallery.

The result is a wonderfully eclectic exhibition representing the wonderful people of Greater Manchester, which includes paintings, prints, photography, sculpture, digital and mixed media, video and audio, spoken word, performance and more.

Kat Preston – An Ode to Willendorf

And, in the words of the great Jimmy Cricket (never forget) there’s more…(it was a contemporary reference toss up between him and Columbo)…

20 of the artists have been shortlisted for a Manchester Open Award, and the five winners will each receive an artist bursary to the value of 2000 pounds, in collaboration with Castlefield Gallery, which will be tailored to each individual artist, and may cover such things as travel, materials, studio rent, website development or any aspect of their practice following peer advice. Full details including the names of all finalists can be found HERE

Just one more thing (nobody puts Columbo in the corner), visitors to the Manchester Open Exhibition during the first four weeks will get the chance to vote for the winner of The People’s Choice Award.

All winners will also receive (and I LOVE this) an award made by Stockport’s On The Brink Studio, from Manchester poplar, bog oak and wax from the beehives on the roof of HOME.

Jen Orpin – It’s the Manc Way – Safe Passage

So support Greater Manchester by helping support HOME support Greater Manchester and head on over to the Manchester Open Exhibition at HOME from Saturday 18 January.

I’ll be visiting this week and will share what is sure to be my joy and favourites in a further post and pics on here, Twitter and Instagram.

More details can be found at https://homemcr.org/exhibition/manchester-open/

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Preview: Salford Museum and Art Gallery welcomes new Collier Street Baths exhibition

I’m as guilty as the next person at taking our streets of Manchester and Salford for granted.

Focused squarely on not tripping over my own feet (the great tumble of St Annes Square of 2003 – never forget), or striking out straight into the path of a tram, I, alongside many residents, workers and visitors to the area, never think to stop and look around at the many beautiful buildings in our midst, both old and new.

Ready to open our eyes and inspire an appreciation of such, an art exhibition has landed at Salford Museum and Art Gallery, celebrating the beautiful architecture of Collier Street Baths through a collection of paintings by local artist, Ian McKay.

Ian McKay c/o Salford Leisure

Just off Trinity Way in Salford, the Grade II listed building was designed by the city’s own Thomas Worthington, who designed many of the noted structures including The Albert Memorial and Memorial Hall in Albert Square, and the City Police Courts.

The oldest surviving public baths in Great Britain, Collier Street Baths (also termed ‘Greengate Baths’, opened in 1856 by the Manchester and Salford Baths and Laundries Company, but since closing in 1880, has remained derelict ever since.

The good news is that the building is finally to be redeveloped – watch that Salfordian space!

1856 was the beginning of the golden age for public swimming and the baths were used by 50,000 people a year at their peak. Note Oarsman, Mark Addy, who rescued more than 50 people from drowning in the Irwell (yes, that’s who the pub was named after, not the actor), indeed learnt to swim at Collier Street Baths.

Fascinated by the building’s Italianate architectural aesthetic (Worthington having been inspired by a recent trip to Italy), artist, Ian McKay, spent time on location producing a collection of drawings and colour studies of the exterior of the building, which eventually evolved into a series of abstract paintings.

Ian McKay c/o Salford Leisure

Ian says

Collier Street Baths to me is a crucial part of Salford and Manchester’s social history and I felt the building deserved to have its story told visually…the baths played a huge part in the health and wellbeing of people in both cities and gave people a lot of pleasure so i wanted to create this same feeling with an exhibition that is a tribute to this fine building.

Ian also runs Gorton Visual Arts, which teaches new skills to elderly residents, vulnerable adults and residents with learning difficulties, all in a safe studio environment.

The Collier Street Baths exhibition runs until 26 April 2020 at Salford Museum and Art Gallery, is free to visit and open six days a week (excluding bank holidays). A programme of activity will also run to support the exhibition.

For more details, visit the Salford Museum website.

And next time you’re pounding our glorious streets, paved, of course, with Mancunian and Salfordian gold, remember to look around you (check for trams first)…

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Celebrity Events Manchester Popular culture preview Preview/review The Arts Theatre

Review: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Opera House

I’m cough years old but a good pantomime won’t fail to touch even the most jadedcynical, grown up of adults. And this was no exception.

In fact, and at the risk of over-exuberance (although at the time of writing I’ve had a 12 hour cooling off period) I’d say this was the bar by which pantomimes should be set.

I know!

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (dwarves isn’t the plural of dwarf – who knew?) at the Opera House, Manchester, is quite simply a masterclass in panto.

Craig Revel Horwood as the Queen was truly Wicked in every sense of the word. Flamboyant, devilishly funny and quite simply screamingly fab-u-lous. What a set of lungs too. Oo-indeed-err.

The Strictly refs came thick and fast but each one landing perfectly (‘out of 10, I’d give him 1…’) and the charisma exuded by this evil queen (indeed) was second to none.

Eric Potts was the ultimate, ultimate Dame! From his cheeky look at the princes’s testimonials, there wasn’t a pun unchecked, a camp aside left unspoken or outrageous outfit left unworn.

Ben Nickless as Muddles barely drew breath during the entire performance and was a triumph as panto Master of Ceremonies.

From 0-100mph the second he took to the stage, the impressions (his Mark Owen just killed me) , cheeky gags, physical comedy and engagement with the audience was second to none. Variety, vaudeville, call it what you want, but it was bloody brilliant.

The three actors together had incredible chemistry and gave us some wonderful laugh out loud moments (I rarely laugh out loud, reader, even the mirthiest of moments will usually lead only to a weird expelling of breath) but I laughed until actual tears came down.

If you’re not belly laughing at the tongue-twister scene or the 12 days of Christmas skit, we cannot be friends.

Zoe George served up a simply perfect princess Snow White as did Joshua St Clair as Prince Harry – pitch perfect and leaving us believing in the love story.

The ‘Magnificent Seven’ had less stage time than expected, but made the most of their scenes, with enough ‘top bantz’ to make you hi-ho-ho-ho (yes, sorry…)

The script also gave great Manchester, with local references aplenty including some saucy refs to a cockatoo on canal street, with nothing in the wider stratosphere was off limits including Prince Andrew and Boris Johnson – the perfect balance of laughs for the kids and under the radar gags for the grown ups.

With such talented cast and performances, the show would be forgiven for resting on its laurels but the production values were spell binding.

The relatively simple sets complimented the magical costumes perfectly and with a couple of surprises literally springing out into the audience, the fourth wall was there to be broken both visually and in the knowing patter throughout.

I think I’ve waxed quite lyrically now and will go have a lie down.

Give yourself an early Christmas present and head to the Opera House immediately, if not sooner. And before Sunday 29 December, 2019.

For full details and tickets head to https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/snow-white/opera-house-manchester/

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Culture Events Manchester Popular culture preview Preview/review The Arts Theatre

Review: The Manchester Project at Christmas. At HOME

I love a good kick-start to the festive season.

For some it’s a trip to Dunham Massey’s ever popular lights extravaganza, some a performance of The Nutcracker, for some the appearance of the ‘red cups’ or even seeing Zippy being put together outside the Town Hall (Rest in Peace).

This year I spring-boarded into the season by heading HOME to see The Manchester Project at Christmas.

Brought to us by  Monkeywood  theatre company, Manchester is the heartbeat of everything they do.

The company ask the questions,

what does it mean to be a mancunian? what is it like to live here?

and just this piece of theatre does a pretty good job of answering, as the project delivers up a ‘theatrical map of Manchester’, with 14 shorts, each focusing on an area (aside from one, which centres on our very own HOME).

The Manchester Project at Christmas – HOME Friday 6th until Monday 30th December 2019 Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk http://www.jasonlock.co.uk

With a company of six local actors (Cynthia Emeagi, Zoe Iqbal, Reuben Johnson, Andrew Sheridan, Samantha Siddall and Gurjeet Singh),  and each play brought to us by writers from across the city, it really is the ultimate Christmas gift of homegrown talent. I should at this point out that sadly Samantha Siddall was ill (get well soon) and her parts were taken by writer and producer Sarah McDonald Hughes. And brilliantly so.

A little of the production itself, the gallery has been transformed into a theatre space but one which is incredibly relaxed and feels decidedly ‘fringe’.

Take your seat at one of the many tables dotted around, set down your drink, and sit back whilst combinations of the six actors perform on a sparse stage the only props being white boxes adorned with the name of the 14 focal places:

The Manchester Project at Christmas – HOME Friday 6th until Monday 30th December 2019 Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk http://www.jasonlock.co.uk

HOME, Little Hulton, Middleton, Strangeways, Crumpsall, Shaw, Hulme, Whalley Range, Chorlton, Cheetham Hill, Moss Side, Wythenshawe, Old Trafford and Timperley.

I’ll never get this review out before Boxing Day if I write about each short, so whilst all were entertaining, touching in their own way, I’ll pull out a couple:

Chorlton – a touching story of a separated couple who we learn meet up annually at the graveside of the daughter they lost when she was 6 years old. In just a few short lines, we quickly discover a warmth between the exes which perhaps was previously destroyed by their shared loss.

Cheetham Hill – a laugh out loud performance by Zoe Iqbal, selling cheap knock-offs  the genuine thing like a goodun, working the audience with brilliant timing and wit.

With a Santa hat as a prop and passed round like a baton between the plays, The Manchester Project covers homelessness, crime, immigration, teenage pregnancy, bereavement, Frank Sidebottom and ferret racing. It really does.

The Manchester Project at Christmas – HOME Friday 6th until Monday 30th December 2019 Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk http://www.jasonlock.co.uk

And it’s a celebration of not only the Manchester area, Manchester people and the talent we harbour in this fine city, but a brilliant way to kick start your Christmas.

The Manchester Project at Christmas – HOME Friday 6th until Monday 30th December 2019 Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk http://www.jasonlock.co.uk

Not only that, you get some extra bang for your buck and a drag dessert to your main on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in the shape of Miss Blair’s TV special (celebrating our favourite British icons at Christmas,  or the Ho Ho Holiday Comedy Hour on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays featuring the likes of Mrs Barbara Nice.

So what are you waiting for? Your house looks like it’s vomited fairy lights, you’ve begun the ritualistic ‘sod it it’s Christmas’ to excuse bad behaviour and you’ve become afflicted with Twiglet fingers.

Give yourself the early gift of Manchester with The Manchester Project, on until 30 December 2019.

For more details of the production and to buy tickets, head to https://homemcr.org/production/the-manchester-project-at-christmas/

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cinema Culture Events film Manchester News Popular culture preview Preview/review The Arts

News: HOME brings in 2020 with a retrospective of award-winning Mancunian screenwriter, Robert Bolt

I’m currently trying my hand at screenwriting (under the excellent tutorage of Scriptwriting North), love a regular visit to HOME and dip my toe in the world of film both here and over at What the Projectionist Saw

So battling my way through a frankly annoying barrage of emails in my inbox about Black Friday,  there was only one missive which caught my eye and promised me the ultimate gift (and not a BF reference in sight – a GOOD thing).

HOME are seeing in 2020 with their annual British Screenwriters season, 5-22 January, and there’s a mancunian cherry on the cake.

Manchester-born and educated Robert Bolt will be the subject of a celebrated season of works including the infamous and frankly quite epic Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Dr Zhivago (1965).

Happy new year to us!

Curated by Andy Willis, HOME’s Senior Visiting Curator: Film and Professor of Film Studies at the University of Salford, the season will screen three of Bolt’s award-winning collaborations with Lean: Lawrence of Arabia, recipient of seven Oscars in 1963 including Best Film and Best Director, with a Best Screenplay nomination for Bolt; Doctor Zhivago, which won Bolt his first Oscar and Golden Globe; and Ryan’s Daughter (1970), a double Oscar-winning epic romance set against a backdrop of war and political turmoil.

Also screening is the 1966 screen adaptation of Bolt’s internationally successful stage play of the same name, A Man for All Seasons, with Paul Scofield reprising his West End and Broadway role as Sir Thomas More – for which he was awarded an Oscar – alongside a cast including Robert Shaw, Orson Welles, Vanessa Redgrave and John Hurt and directed by Hollywood veteran Fred Zinnemann (High Noon, From Here to Eternity). Rounding off the season is Bolt’s final film, The Mission – the haunting, epic tale of a missionary in 18th-century South America starring Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons and directed by Roland Joffé – winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival as well as a final Golden Globe for Best Screenplay for Bolt.

Curator Andy Willis heads up proceedings with a special One Hour Intro about Bolt and his career, commenting…

Bolt is a true Manchester success story – born in Sale and educated in Manchester, he studied at Manchester University before and after serving in World War II. We’re excited to be celebrating this brilliant writer who enjoyed critical and commercial success across such a vast range of theatre and film writing, and possessed a true knack for making history contemporary and tackling moral issues dramatically.

For more details including the full programme list and to buy tickets, head to the HOME website at https://homemcr.org/event/british-screenwriters-robert-bolt/

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Review: Opera North’s Giulio Cesare at The Lowry

Some years ago, I visited the site where Julius Caesar was said to meet his maker.

The Curia in the Theatre Of Pompey is not only a place of significant historical importance but much to my total and utter glee, a colony for feral cats. Cat lovers this is your Mecca, cat not-lovers probably give this a miss and spend more time in the Coliseum (actually cats live in there too – maybe go to Madrid instead).

Handel’s Giulio Cesare comes with the wonderful tagline…

Cleopatra would die for the throne. But she’d rather kill for it.

And so tells the story of Cleopatra and her brother Tolomeo, as they compete for absolute power over Egypt.

Credit: Alastair Muir

Julius Caesar has chased his enemy Pompey to Egypt where he falls into the murderous hands of Tolomeo.

As Pompey’s widow Cornelia plots with son Sesto to get their revenge, Tolomeo is seemingly more concerned by an ‘enemy’ closer to hand…

Credit: Alastair Muir

Well they do say you can choose your friends but you can’t choose…etc and so forth.

Whilst Cleopatra could be lauded as a symbol of a strong independent women, some may take issue with her tactics to secure her position – that is with feminine wiles and good old ‘female of the species’ straightforward seduction of Caesar.

Credit: Alastair Muir

Nobody’s coming out of this registering strong on the moral compass so, moving on…

Sung in Italian, Tim Albery’s production of Handel’s sweeping and passionate operatic tale is accompanied by a wonderful orchestra conducted by Christian Curnyn.

The set is simple, allowing for the marriage between the voices and the music to flourish and entertain without distraction.

Forgive me for perhaps lowering the cultural tone here but I couldn’t help but equate the spirited, competitive and sometimes downright troubling relationship between brother and sister, Tolomeo and Cleopatra, to that of, what for it, the ice-skating, scheming siblings in the very deep and seminal film…Blades of Glory. Even aesthetically.

DO forgive me – I mean this without any of the slapstick but with all of the heart, passion and downright devilment of both pairs.

It’s a pocket of time that is revisited, referenced and paid tribute to both in the history books and in popular culture repeatedly. But whilst time moves on, human passion, ambition and indeed ruthlessness remains.

And with a wonderfully talented cast and production (a statement which will come as no surprise to those who are familiar with the work of Opera North), Giulio Cesare delivers on this age-old story of tyranny and passion in spades.

Cast:

  • Giulio Cesare – Maria Sanner
  • Cleopatra – Lucie Chartin
  • Cornelia – Amy J Payne (special mention who stepped in for Catherine Hopper)
  • Sesto – Heather Lowe
  • Tolomeo – James Laing
  • Noreno – Paul-Antoine Bruno’s-Djian
  • Curio – Dean Robinson
  • Achilla- Darren Jeffery

Opera North continue at The Lowry this week with performances of La Boheme tonight (15 November) and The Greek Passion tomorrow (16 November) at The Lowry.

Have a thousand questions on Opera-going that you never dared ask? Find out more here at https://www.operanorth.co.uk/your-visit/new-to-opera/.

My reviews of previous Opera North productions can be found below:

Review: Aida at the Bridgewater Hall

Theatre review: The Magic Flute at The Lowry