Manchester is a vibrant theatre city which plays host to a number of national touring productions as well as housing some of the great producing theatres. So What’s On In Manchester? If you are visiting Manchester we can recommend any of the following productions and look forward to hearing your feedback. SEPTEMBER 2015 Annie The classic children’s musical starring Craig Revel Horwood. Lesley Joseph plays Miss Hannigan on 25/26 September. 15 – 26 September Manchester Opera House Book Tickets Facing the Music with Patricia Routledge An evening with Patricia Routledge in conversation with Edward Seckerson. 9 September 2015 Stockport Plaza Book Tickets The Crucible Arthur Miller’s stage classic comes to the Royal Exchange. 18 September – 24 October 2015 Royal Exchange Theatre Book Tickets Handbagged Moira Buffini’s high-spirited and shrewd piece cleverly explores the nature of history – and what might have gone on behind closed doors 15 – 19 … Read more
There is no doubt that Mrs Henderson Presents should transfer to the West End. The material is first-rate and superior to many new musicals that have played there in recent years. It will need a bigger orchestra (and, accordingly, bigger orchestrations) and it could do with some casting fine-tuning and a larger ensemble (another dozen dancers at least) so that a grander sense of scale was permitted. In Bath, it comes across as a superb chamber piece, perfectly suited to the gorgeous Theatre Royal. In the West End, its aim can be higher.
I doubt anyone could hope for a finer, more delicate production of this great play. It is genuinely funny in parts, full of melodramatic touches which are not silly but insightful, and incredibly moving when the final scenes play out. Davies is at the top of his game here- this is a symphony of theatrical pleasure. It should transfer to the West End and play and play. Producers should not be fearful of a good old-fashioned triumph.
Ball is an exceptional, utterly convincing Mack. He completely gets under the skin of the character, finding precisely the right level to pitch every moment of anger, driven determination, and offhand callousness. The passion for making comedy films that can see people of any race and creed laugh in any place on the planet is the backbone of Ball’s characterisation. He is entirely unsentimental in his delivery and never seeks the approval of the audience. Musically, Ball is exceptional. He uses his big, bright voice deftly, producing clear, strong notes, ringing phrases of great colour, and perfectly supported passages of soft and delicate singing
This is a curious production of Othello. You get the bones of the story, clearly, but the flesh, the marrow, the heart – all of which depends upon the rich characters of the central trio and the way the actors approach their motivations, fears and tempestuous feelings – is thin on the ground. As Othello says: “Certain men should be what they seem”. In appearance, word and action. In Khan’s hands, and with this casting, none of Othello, Desdemona nor Iago are what they seem according to Shakespeare’s text.
Henry Goodman is assured and magnetic as the titular Volpone. He gives a larger than life performance which suits – entirely – Johnson’s larger than life character. In the extreme, absurd comedy, Goodman is very good indeed. His fake almost-dead patient is a riot, not the least because when Goodman has his wig and hospital gear in full flight, he bears an uncanny resemblance to Worzel Gummidge as played by Jimmy Savile. There is something splendidly repulsive yet unsettlingly endearing about him in this mode.
As with so many theatres of a certain age, the bar at the Theatre Royal is proudly lined with photos of bygone productions from the golden age of repertory theatre; and there, sure enough, were the production shots of a 1986 production of this very play, Joking Apart – all duffle coats, cravats and tweed jackets, floral print dresses, and big, frizzy hair-dos, taking you straight back to the 1970s. But the lesson of this fine production is that this is a timeless play that holds up as true a mirror to our foibles now as ever it did before.
This is a play where the inhabitants of a Nunnery are slain by poisoned porridge; where the daughter of a Jew becomes a Christian Nun, twice; where, having purchased a Thracian slave, owner and slave engage in a bout of one-upmanship about the vile deeds they claim to enjoy; where Friars are referred to as “religious caterpillars”; where the Jew inquires if theft is the basis of Christianity; where a Friar casually asks if the Jew has been “crucifying children”; and where no one, really, has any redeeming features. It all but screams farce, even if some of the subject matter is repugnant and, sadly, deadly accurate.