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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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cinema film Manchester preview Preview/review The Arts

Film Preview: Military Wives

I will be honest, and I don’t mean this to be offensive to any film that is based on a true story about real people, with real life events and feelings, but I generally, and admittedly cynically, run a mile from anything that has a whiff of ‘feel-good’.

But I’ll happily (yes i can do happy) admit upfront that this film actually made me feel good. Very good.

Credit: Lionsgate UK

Starring the wonderful Sharon Horgan alongside the equally wonderful Kristin Scott Thomas, Military Wives is inspired by the true story of the world’s first military wives choir, and directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker, Peter Cattaneo.

Credit: Lionsgate UK

Read my review of Military Wives on my sister blog What the Projectionist Saw https://whattheprojectionistsaw.wordpress.com/2020/02/29/review-military-wives/

Now in cinemas across Greater Manchester, including:

Everyman Manchester

Vue Cinemas

Odeon Manchester

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Culture film Manchester Music Popular culture preview The Arts Theatre

Pics: Rehearsals in full flow for Back to the Future The Musical

If you haven’t yet heard that Back to the Future The Musical (no less) is coming to Manchester’s Opera House on 20 February 2020, great Scott, you’d better make like a leaf and get outta here!

Yes, I did that homage and I’m very proud of my little self…

Starring Olly Dobson as Marty McFly and and Roger Bart as ‘Doc’ , you’ll have 12 weeks to catch the show and from 17 March they even have Sunday matinees (before then, they sleep in on Sundays…)

Oh yes.

As these behind the scenes pictures show, the actors have hit rehearsals at a rate of 88mph (yes it works), with (and this surely stamps quality all over it) original creative team Co-creators and Producers, Bob Gale and Robert Zemekis.

Olly Dobson in rehearsals for Back to the Future The Musical, credit Sean Ebsworth Barnes

Bob Gale in rehearsals for Back to the Future The Musical, credit Sean Ebsworth Barnes

Robert Zemeckis in rehearsals for Back to the Future The Musical, credit Sean Ebsworth Barnes

Olly Dobson and Hugh Coles in rehearsals for Back to the Future The Musical, credit Sean Ebsworth Barnes

Rosanna Hyland and Olly Dobson in rehearsals for Back to the Future The Musical, credit Sean Ebsworth Barnes

Hugh Coles and Cedric Neal in rehearsals for Back to the Future The Musical, credit Sean Ebsworth Barnes

Roger Bart in rehearsals for Back to the Future The Musical, credit Sean Ebsworth Barnes (2)
For full details visit http://backtothefuturemusical.com/

Buy tickets here: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/back-to-the-future-the-musical/opera-house-manchester/

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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 Current affairs Events Manchester News preview The Arts

Preview: Manchester Jewish Museum to mark Holocaust Memorial Day with two premiere performances

2020 heralds 75 years since the liberation of the Nazi death-camps.

On Monday 27 January, Manchester Jewish Museum will mark Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), with two premieres of musical and theatrical performances, staged at Manchester Central Library.

Songs of Arrival

During the afternoon, music by acclaimed Israeli composer Na’ama Zisser,the first to introduce cantorial music into opera, will be performed together with a premiere of brand-new songs in a free pop-up performance installation, entitled Songs of Arrival, from 4pm in the Music Library. 

Pic credit: Manchester Jewish Museum

The Museum’s very own community song-writing group – who have been working with musician and composer Joe Steele to create original compositions – will also perform. These brand new songs will premiere at the Library, and bring to life the Museum’s oral history collection from where stories of arriving in Cheetham Hill in the 1930s and 40s originate. 

Of the four brand new songs written and performed for HMD by the Museum’s community writing group, two are based directly on stories from the museum’s oral history collection. The other two draw on themes of migration and cultural integration more generally; a song created with ESOL students at the Abraham Moss Adult Learning Centre takes as its inspiration the ubiquity of the phrase ‘Thank you, love’, which the students observed after arriving in Manchester, weaving together different translations including Arabic, Portugese and Welsh. Meanwhile, Celebration of Love, written by group member Andy Steele, brings a positive message of ‘making peace, not war’.

Opera Singer Peter Braithwaite, who is also the Museum’s Artist in Residence, concludes this interactive musical installation and line-up with one of Na’ama Zisser’s song Love Sick – performed in Hebrew and based on the Song of Songs (Shir Hashirim) a book in the bible which explores love.

Holocaust Brunch

In the evening of Monday 27th, the Museum’s commemoration of HMD continues with the Northern Premiere of Holocaust Brunch by London based, Canadian theatre makerand performer, Tamara Micner. Fusing and using comedy with beigels, this funny and brave solo show brings to life the true stories of two Holocaust survivors connected to Tamara, and pries open an intergenerational wound to explore why we remember the Holocaust and what it is like to live in the shadows of genocide and displacement.

Pic credit – Holly Revell

Holocaust Brunch tells a remarkable true Holocaust survival story. Micner reflects on her experience of growing up as a descendent of survivors, and explores how communities can heal from ancestral trauma. Holocaust Brunch is a dark comedy, recounting a story not typically told, and Tamara Micner serves up beigels and cream cheese as she pries open an intergenerational wound and asks why we remember, and what it might look like to forget.

Pic credit: Holly Revell

Created with a team of Jewish and non-Jewish artists, Micner’s moving, funny and thoughtful solo performance invites audiences to reflect how, as the next generation, we can keep memories alive. As part of the creation of Holocaust Brunch, Tamara Micner has collaborated with London-based printmaker Yael Roberts, who has made a series of original prints, The Trauma Documents, which respond to parts of the story and appear throughout the show as video projections. These will be on display at Manchester Central Library alongside the performance of Holocaust Brunch.

The Manchester Jewish Museum is currently based at Manchester Central Library until 2021 whilst work is underway to extend its original Cheetham Hill site.

Songs of Arrival is a free drop-in event between 4-5pm – more information is at https://www.manchesterjewishmuseum.com/event/holocaust-memorial-day-songs-of-arrival/

Holocaust Brunch stars at 7.30pm and tickets can be purchased at https://www.manchesterjewishmuseum.com/event/holocaust-brunch-by-tamara-micner/

 The Manchester Jewish Museum is currently based at Manchester Central Library until 2021 whilst work is carried out to extend its original Cheetham Hill site.
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Preview: NQ Jazz – 21.10.2019 – Sue Rynhart & Huw Warren

NQ Jazz is one of my favourites things.

Yes we have Matt and Phred’s and I give thanks to the gods of live jazz that we do.

But Manchester needs even more and NQ Jazz gives us that more in a gloriously dark, underground befitting location that is The Whiskey Jar.

The rather marvellous Richard Isles Trio at The Whiskey Jar

To speak in New York terms (because, of course), if Matt and Phred’s is Birdland, The Whiskey Jar is Smalls (I’m basically using this opportunity to show off about the fact that I’ve been to both).

This Monday 21st October sees Dublin singer and composer, Sue Rynhart, take to the atmospheric Whiskey Jar basement bar, with pianist (and composer) Huw Warren.

Sue previously visited our fair city with a performance at the Manchester Jazz Festival and brings sounds which are an edgy blend of modern jazz mixed with contemporary sounds.

Credit: Karl Burke

Welsh pianist Huw, a BBC Jazz award winner, carries with him an international reputation for innovative music making.

Fresh from the release of their new single We Are On Time (Flower Seeds), join them (and me!) this Monday 21 October and kick start the week with a little NQ Jazz therapy.

For more details, visit https://nqjazz.com/

To hear Sue and Huw’s new single, visit Spotify – We Are On Time (Flower Seeds)

NQ Jazz is every Monday at the Whiskey Jar, 14 Tariff Street, Manchester.

Entry £5 (£4 students with ID), doors at 8pm, live music from 8.30pm…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 https://www.thefishermanstable.co.uk/poulton/.

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 http://foodanddrinkfestival.com/awards/

 

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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.

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

Review: First Time (Refract Festival 2019)

A funny and frank autobiographical solo-show, First Time (from Dibby Theatre) is written and performed by theatre-maker and HIV activist, Nathaniel Hall and returned to Sale Waterside Centre as part of Refract Festival.

Diagnosed just two weeks after his 17th birthday and only months after coming out as gay to his family, Nathaniel kept his HIV status from almost all for over 14 years.

In late 2017, Nathaniel ‘came out again’, as it were, and is now advocating for better contemporary representation of HIV in popular culture. The show is a vehicle to break down HIV stigma and contribute to the UNAIDS aim of ending HIV within a generation.

With humour, honesty, a great deal of both heart and heartbreak, Nathaniel Hall stood (and danced – nice Ketchup song moves) before us and told us his story.

Like all the best Fringe theatre, the set was simple, tube lighting in the form of a colour changing triangle (my favourite being blue to depict Stockport – that god forsaken pyramid!).

Accompanied by beats and bantz (yes I did that – I just needed a bit of alliteration) we were in his flat, on that bench where he met his first, at his prom, on his holiday when he first fell ill, in his doctor’s waiting room, in the clinic when he got his diagnosis…

The diagnosis that he wasn’t to share with his parents for another 14 years.

Like everyone else who was around at the time (I was very young though, ok?) the AIDS advert was terrifying in itself without me really understanding the substance behind it.

AIDS advert – 1986

We were asked not to die of ignorance – whilst things have improved medically and concerning awareness there is still ignorance surround HIV and AIDS to this day.

  • Whilst not in the realms of Dot Cotton in Eastenders circa 1987 not wanting to wash Colin’s smalls in the launderette because a) he’s gay b) he must have full blown AIDS c) she’ll ‘catch it’ through touching his pants – yes I’m currently OBSESSED with classic Eastenders on Gold – there’s still lots for us all to learn.
  • And so, thank god (or who/whatever) we have people like Nathaniel who having contracted HIV at 16 has dealt/is dealing with his diagnosis in such a selfless, giving (funny and entertaining – no really, First Time is a one-man show of two halves, as it were) way.

    An immersive experience, we took part in an HIV quiz – no we did!

    Speaking of first times, I had one shouting

    I love orgies

    in Sale.

    Like the candlelit vigil in Sackville Gardens at each Manchester Pride, we were shown images of those who had lost their fight whilst we held candles of our own.

    Getting to me good and hard was the picture Nathaniel showed to us of himself in his cream suit at his High School Prom. You see he was waiting to pick up that suit when he met his first time encounter ‘Sam’ on a bench in Stockport in 2003.

    It may be me applying the knowledge of what was to come when I saw that picture (and my failing eyesight) but I saw the little boy at the end of the film Big as he walks down the road in his too big Tom Hanks suit.

    I’m sure Nathaniel’s cream suit fitted perfectly and he looked amazing. You get where I’m coming from.

    I have a copy of the letter in my bag that Nathaniel wrote to his parents and eventually even gave them (not before it was anonymously read to crowds at one candlelit vigil by an actor).

    I’m not crying you’re crying.

    Yes Nathaniel is HIV+, contracting this from his first time (he doesn’t blame ‘Sam’ by the way). But do you know what? He’s a bloody good actor, writer and performer – funny, witty, creative and giving.

    Heading to Edinburgh Fringe, you can go see the show there (thanks to those who contributed to the Crowd-Funder to help take solo show First Time to Edinburgh Fringe).

    If First Time ever returns to Sale Waterside Centre for a third time – go see it there.

    Find out what else is on at the brilliant Refract Festival here…Back with a Bang! Refract festival returns to Sale this Summer and of course here…Refract 19