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Culture LGBT LGBTQ+ Manchester Music Popular culture preview Preview/review The Arts Theatre

Review: Insane Animals

It’s true to say that I didn’t always know what I was watching last night.

But I know that I liked it.

Like the camp space landing that it depicted (are there any other kind?), the show launched itself on stage through plumes of smoke and a cacophony of noise, and with the arrival of ‘cult cabaret duo’, Bourgeois & Maurice.

Directed by Phillip McMahon, the premise of the show (you’re best not to question, just accept) is two glam aliens arrive from a faraway galaxy to rescue present-day earth from impending political, environmental and social doom.

Now, of course this show was written, created, conceived of before we all entered the realms of (brace yourself for the c-word) Coronavirus. Yet, I can’t have been the only one in that audience more than aware of the …well not so much irony, more literal coincidence, of the statements delivered to the audience along the lines of ‘we’ve come to save you, you’re all doomed,’. They raised more than a little nervous laughter as we coughed into our elbows, having performed hand-washing duration top trumps with fellow theatre-goers in the toilets beforehand.

Being accidentally reminded of world-wide health crisis aside, the show was a riot, a pure joy.

The best thing with shows such as Insane Animals, is not to attempt to explain it (and with that, she was off the hook), but just to feel it, absorb it, embrace it and really, really enjoy it.

The satirical double-act were joined by 6 other actors and musicians (and self-described misfits) as they sang, played, danced, gyrated, wrestled, gurned and glitter-bombed their way through a story of time-travel and mortality (oh yes, they weren’t messing about).

The songs were catchy (I’m not the biggest embracer of musicals but i was all over this one) and the costumes as extra as the country’s current penchant for stockpiling loo-roll.

At the time of writing, there are four more chances to bear witness to this ‘queer unravelling of past and present, fact and fiction’. Just watch yourself on that front row…

For more details and to book tickets, visit https://homemcr.org/production/bourgeois-maurices-insane-animals/.

Pic credits: Drew Forsyth.

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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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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 Manchester Popular culture Preview/review The Arts Theatre

Theatre review: SparkPlug

There are plays, productions, shows that you appreciate the work of, admire, praise, write about, commend.

Then there are those that you actually want to frogmarch people into the theatre to see.

You almost don’t want to write about it, lest it spoil the experience. You want to write of it, of course. But not a breakdown of it, as it were.

If it didn’t make me look like a lazy little blogger, I’d have titled this post

Go immediately and see SparkPlug, written and starring David  Judge, on at HOME Mcr until 23 February

and just post some pictures.

img_2851
credit: author’s own

But I’ll say a little more.

Brought to the stage by Manchester-based theatre company, Box of Tricks, and directed by Hannah Tyrell-Pinder, SparkPlug is autobiographically inspired, telling the story of ‘a white man who becomes the adoptive father, mother and best friend of a mixed race child.’

A single-hander by the astonishingly talented David Judge, we’re taken straight to Manchester 1983 onwards by Judge, the frame of an old Capri (which goes on its own journey of transformation as the narrative develops), Rod Stewart, Michael Jackson and some impassioned and incredible storytelling.

David Judge (Dave), credit: Alex Mead, Decoy Media.

For 80 minutes, we were swept along with the beautiful, rhythmic, poetic dialogue as Judge told the funny, tragic, sometimes shocking story of race, sexuality and those who act as judge and jury on the two.

The energy in the dialogue was matched by the way Judge cleverly commanded the stage, every inch of the car frame interrogated as he swung, lay, sat, drove and decorated his object of amour.

There were other props seen, touched, but Judge, through his delivery, accents, stature, dancing, singing and display of emotion, gave the audience everything they needed as we travelled through the 80s with him. Young, old, man, woman, black, white, mixed race…Judge had it covered.

 David Judge (Dave), credit: Alex Mead, Decoy Media

A Manchester audience will obviously appreciate and understand more the cultural references which can be drawn simply by utterance of the word

Wythenshawe

but the setting of the story is largely irrelevant, the story is the thing.

I think that’s all I’m going to tell you about the performance and it’s more than I wanted to. I just want you to see it and be entertained, educated, moved and open-mouthed as one very talented man tells us a story of love.

David Judge (Dave), credit: Alex Mead, Decoy Media

Visit https://homemcr.org/production/sparkplug/ for more details and, importantly, access to your tickets.

Seeing this production on Valentine’s Day, I’m inspired to say that whilst it’s true that money can’t buy you love, £12.50 can buy you a ticket to a brilliant evening at the theatre.

PS SparkPlug is not just for Manchester; at HOME until 23 February,  it will next move onto an extensive 18-venue tour, ending in Birmingham in April. Don’t miss out.

 

 

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Culture Literature Manchester News preview The Arts Theatre

Preview: Jackie Kay – She’s coming HOME…

Scottish writer, poet and patron of HOME Mcr, Jackie Kay, is heading back to Manchester and bringing with her, the gift of theatre!

September 2019 will see Red Dust Road, Jackie’s memoir of her life growing up as a mixed race adopted Scot, brought to life on stage at HOME, after its premiere at the Edinburgh Internal Festival.

Red Dust Road

Adapted for the stage by Tanika Gupta and directed by Dawn Walton, Red Dust Road will bring to life Jackie’s story of self-discovery – from her realisation as a young, adopted little girl, that her skin was a different colour to her peers, to the tracing and finding of her Highland mother and Nigerian father birth parents.

Jackie Kay

Jackie says,

I’m truly delighted that HOME – a place dear to me and close to my heart – is to put on the National Theatre of Scotland’s co-production with HOME of my memoir Red Dust Road.

The book explores belonging and adoption and the many roads that lead us to where we are, and what makes us who we are, genes or porridge, and it seems so fitting to me that it should be on at HOME, a place, as a proud patron, I feel I belong to, and where I always feel entirely at HOME.

Red Dust Road was first published in 2010, winning Scottish Book of the Year and the London Book Award.

A patron of HOME since it opened in 2015 , Jackie has picked up numerous other awards for her novels and story collections throughout her career, including an MBE in 2006. Her connections to the area also extend to her position as Chancellor of the University of Salford.

Tickets and more information can be found at https://homemcr.org/production/red-dust-road/

Check back here in September for a review of what promises to be a moving and adventurous tale of soul-searching and belonging.

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

Theatre Review – DollyWould at HOME

And people say she’s just a big pair of tits.

(David Brent).

Yes, I’ve said tits in a blog post. But there’s no point being polite as the Theatre Company I had the good grace to see perform this evening are called Shit Theatre. Although for polite publications it’s written Sh!t Theatre.

I’ve already written tits and not t!ts. So I may as well write Shit and not Sh!t.

And it’s my blog so ner.

Childish comments and profanities done with, it’s time to speak of the wonder that is DollyWould at HOME theatre.

The themes of this performance are Dolly Parton, Dolly the sheep, Cloning, Originality, Sexuality and Death. With much crossover to boot.

Following their sell out run at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Louise Mothersole and the marvellously named Rebecca Biscuit (sorry, I’m going to be obvious and allude to it as it’s just too wonderful not to), take us on a journey both metaphorical and literal to Dolly Parton’s life and theme park (literal in that they went and showed us their holiday snaps, although I’m sold and planning my own literal, literal trip).

Dressed part Dolly Parton, part Dolly the Sheep, we learn through video, song, interview extracts, slide and performance art just what makes Dolly so unique and original. And Dolly the sheep so unique and original – the latter somewhat ironically due to being cloned.

But then we hear of the time Dolly Parton experienced cloning of her own. She entered a Dolly Parton Drag Competition, exaggerating all her famous features including making her

rhinestones rhinier

Predictably she didn’t win. Her uniqueness was done better by others.

There’s much to enjoy from DollyWould. I tittered (or t!ttered) much at the device where we hear the dulcet tones of American interviewer extraordinaire Barbara Walters asking Dolly (Parton) in a 1977 interview where she wanted to be, what she wanted to achieve, Mothersole and Biscuit (is the surname thing ok? I always feel a bit rude) replicating the answers through the medium of song.

Through an audio montage which bizarrely left me feeling quite emotional (granted I’ve not had much sleep this week) we hear a long list of questions and comments from interviewers past (including our own growly nation’s sweetheart Michael Parkinson) about her appearance and weight.

We don’t hear the retorts but we don’t need to.

Dolly’s got a theme park and a gift shop.

Dolly the Sheep will live on through her clones. Dolly the Parton will live on through her merch and her Drag army.

They are both the same as they are both unique.

There is also the giant mammary glands, descriptions of cadaver rotting and tattoo shop philosophy but even if you believed me, I still want you to see it for yourself.

I believe it’s sold out but there is still hope and a waiting list for cancellations.

DollyWould is at HOME until Saturday 5 May – click here for info and ticket queries.

I Would. Well I did.