REVIEW: Hamlet @ Bolton Octagon

Hamlet Production PhotosPhoto Credit : The Other Richard

David Ricardo-Pearce as Hamlet                                   Pic: Richard Davenport

If you are new to Shakespeare, trying to take in his longest and most quoted work could understandably be considered to be thrown in at the deep end.

But there can be no better introduction to the bard than this stunning production at the Bolton Octagon which presents an accessible and absorbing drama,  as gripping as McMafia or Collateral, without compromising on the themes Shakespeare sought to explore more than 400 years ago.

Hamlet is the classic revenge tragedy – the story of a young prince attempting to avenge the death of his father at the hands of his uncle who has usurped the throne and the dead king’s widow. Hamlet’s obsession is at the core of this drama and David Ricardo-Pearce portrayal is excellent.

The universal and timeless themes are brilliantly explored with Denmark transformed into a more contemporary militaristic  regime where the soldiers carry AK47s and the leaders are dictators akin to Stalin or Putin.

There are two halves of 75 minutes, punctuated by a 20 minute interval, and action flies by – such is the quality of the production.

And it is no one-man show. Brian Prothero is superb as the usurper, Claudio with Eric Potts delivering a suitably tragi-comic portrayal of the bumbling  civil servant Polonius, recast as a priest for this production. Also worth a mention is Margot Leicester whose portrayal Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude – now married to her former brother-in-law, the new King – is sensational.

The Octagon’s former artistic director, David Thacker, who was  invited back to direct this production, can  be proud of what has been achieved. The theatre’s 50th anniversary season goes from strength to strength.

Runs till March 10.

Dave Toomer

 

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Manchester’s deputy leader meeting with EU’s Brexit chief

Manchester City Council’s deputy leader, Cllr Sue Murphy, is meeting with chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier today in bid to ensure the needs of communities are met after Britain leaves the EU.

The Wythenshawe councillor is among a delegation representing the ten UK cities at the heart of the biggest urban areas outside London, meeting the EU chief negotiator today (Monday, 19 Feb). Read More…

Two arrested on suspicion of attempted murder following attack on teenager

Pic: Mark Andrews

Police investigating an attack on a 17-year-old boy in Wythenshawe which left him seriously injured have made two arrests.

Shortly before 9pm on Wednesday 14 February 2018, police were called to Oatlands Road to reports that a 17-year-old boy had been assaulted by a group of people.

The boy was taken to hospital with serious head injuries, where he remains in a serious condition.

Today, Friday 16 February 2018, police have arrested a 20 year-old man and a 16-year-old boy on suspicion of attempted murder.

Detective Chief Inspector Alan Clitherow, of GMP’s Major Incident Team, said: “Following this brutal attack on a 17-year-old boy a team of detectives set about finding those responsible.

“Today we have made two arrests.

“Our investigation is still continuing however and the team are working tirelessly to find out what exactly lead to this 17-year-old boy fighting for his life.”

Anybody with information should contact police on 101, quoting incident number 1928 of 14/02/18, or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

The geek is back for Circus Funtasia in Wythenshawe Park

Geeky clown Emilion heads up Circus Funtasia’s fiery new show this Half Term

Instead of face-paint and big wigs, comic clown Emilion Delbosq prefers a smart shirt and geeky glasses when he performs in the ring. Enigmatic and energetic, Emilion is centre-stage at Circus Funtasia with their brand new 2018 show, which opens on February 16 in Wythenshawe Park.

“Last time I performed with Funtasia was back in 2016. I’m back this year with plenty of new surprises and laughs up my sleeve!” His unique blend of nerdy humour and seamless showmanship is a hit with all ages.

Emilion says, “Thrill-seekers will love this year’s cast which includes the whip-cracking, fire-breathing Antonio Candela. He’s a hot act to follow!”

Antonio’s act fuses real flames with dramatic tricks. Antonio also performs a comedy ladder act, guaranteed to make you laugh as he falls off and sets himself on fire.

Heading up the stunts inside a giant rotating ‘Wheel of Death’ are daredevil Duo Sifolinis. Watch as they alternate between spinning wheels in the air, complete with blindfold and skipping rope. Plus Circus Funtasia’s infamous Globe of Death motorcyclists are back with new riders and new routines taking the Wall of Death to a whole new dimension.

Lucy-Louise shows off her dazzling power in a dangerous routine high in the air. Dangling from the roof of the Big Top, Lucy swings and dances over the audience. Petite Felicia performs an aerial act known as Straps, which sees her twist and hold her body into impressive positions on a long elastic strap, requiring great strength and years of experience.

Strength is the key ingredient in Hungarian acrobat Atilla’s act. Once a painter and decorator, Atilla now puts himself in the spotlight with a dramatic hand-balancing act. Balancing on poles up to 2m high to Sam Smith’s ‘Only Human’, he certainly tests the limits of the human body.

“A hula hoop and tightrope act is performed by French artist Elodie. And our teenage Harley Quinn lookalike Nia will also be back on her Segway, making everyone envious of her incredible knife-juggling skills!” says Emilion.

You won’t find any animals at Circus Funtasia. Ringmistress Tracy Jones explained “with state of the art lighting and a modern soundtrack, we’re moving away from circuses of yesteryear. We love being a contemporary family show that everyone can enjoy.”

Circus Funtasia runs twice daily from Friday 16th until Sunday 25th February in Wythenshawe Park. Visit www.circusfuntasia.co.uk or call 07706168507 for more details and to book.

Wythenshawe cancer charity set to help more families after centre’s £338m facelift

Macmillan Cancer Research Centre in Wythenshawe is undergoing a major extension to support more people whose lives are blighted by the disease.

The centre is based in the grounds of Wythenshawe Hospital and is a vital service to individuals and their families who are living with cancer.

The new-look centre in the grounds of Wythenshawe Hospital  will provide a much larger activity space and an additional therapy/meeting room, when the £338million refurbishment is complete.

The Macmillan team will be able to offer more counselling, complementary therapies, cancer survivorship programmes and benefits and financial advice sessions.

Debbie Smith, Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centre Manager at Wythenshawe Hospital, said:” This investment is a fantastic opportunity to expand the centre and, more importantly, help us enhance the service we provide to meet the needs, not just physical and clinical, but also financial, emotional and psychological, of even more people affected by cancer in South Manchester.”

In 2017 the centre supported nearly 27,000 people in various ways from supplying leaflets, CDs, books, activity support groups and counselling.  They also provided over 800 grants totaling to £178K, helping with heating and travel costs, clothing, new appliances for people living with cancer.

The charity urgently need schools, community groups and businesses to organise a fundraising event to help support this vital service for local people living with cancer.

For more information and fundraising ideas or to make a donation please contact cjenkinson@macmillan.org.uk. 

And anyone requiring  support from the centre can call the team on 0161 291 4876.

REVIEW: Dad’s Army @ Northenden Methodist Church

When a legendary classic comedy like Dad’s Army is brought to the stage a by an amateur theatre fans of the show can’t help being a little apprehensive.

But DON’T PANIC – this production by the Northenden Players is a superb recreation of the 1970s sitcom featuring the hapless misadventures of the Walmington-on-Sea home guard platoon in their efforts to defend the nation from the heel of the Nazi jackboot.

This is a very ambitious show and you have to salute the bravery of anyone who would attempt a homage to a comedy institution still shown on TV today.

But thanks to a strong cast and effective use of sets which enables swift scene changes, the Players pull it off admirably.

Everyone contributes to the success of the show, but at the centre of it all is an uncannily accurate portrayal of the pompous but heroic Captain Mainwaring.

Bill Platt just is Mainwaring and it is no exaggeration to say his performance is probably the closest thing you’ll to the brilliant Arthur Lowe’s rendition on TV.

The production comprises three classic episodes – The Deadly Attachment, featuring one of the most repeated lines in comedy history; Mum’s Army; and The Godiva Affair – rounded off with an hilarious attempt by the platoon at rendition of The Floral Dance.

The cast work well together to serve up a comedy treat and will not disappoint fans of the programme. The interplay between Mainwaring and his posh effete Sergeant Wilson, played by Peter Bowers is wonderful.

And Cyril Walker and David Hunt delight in the roles of doddery veteran Lance Cpl Jones and dour Scotland Private Frazer.

It is a hoot from start to finish and a great night out.

Runs till Saturday Feb 17.

REVIEW: Strangers on a Train @ The Opera House, Manchester

strangers-on-a-train-theatre-royal-glasgow-1It was always going to be a big ask to bring Patricia Highsmith’s tense psychological thriller to the stage and this production doesn’t quite pull it off in the way that Alfred Hitchcock famously did on the silver screen.

There is much of merit in the show, with some effective mood lighting and innovative use of sets, but the pace and direction lets it down and it is certainly a play of two halves.

The story is based around the consequences of a chance meeting on a train between  Guy Haines, an ambitious architect and alcoholic wreck, Charles Bruno. In a drink-fuelled stupour, Bruno comes up with  a hypothetical plan, where he would to murder the wife Haines is about to divorce in exchange for Haines killing Bruno’s father.  When Bruno unexpectedly keeps to his side of the bargain, pressure is applied for Haines to deliver, thus providing the main premise for the drama.

But prior to the interval, the dramatic action is laboured, slow and frankly quite boring.  When you don’t care that much about the fate of the characters, you know something is wrong. However, maybe some-one had a work in the break, because the pace picked up in the second half culminating in the dramatic conclusion at the end.

Chris Harper as Bruno and Jack Ashton as Haines deliver reasonable performances although there are one or two instances of the audience perhaps laughing when they shouldn’t as Bruno becomes increasingly psychotic.

Overall, not a terrible night at the theatre, but one that is distinctly underwhelming.

Runs till February 10

 

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