Manchester Theatre – February 2018

01 RET The Almighty Sometimes L-R Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Vivienne), Norah Lopez Holden (Anna) & Mike Noble (Oliver) - Image Manuel Harlan

There’s no shortage of new shows in Manchester this month. Here are three productions I’m looking forward to, all of which match strong contemporary writing with some amazing acting talent.

The Almighty Sometimes

Manchester theatre’s big news this month is Kendall Feaver’s ‘The Almighty Sometimes‘ at the Royal Exchange. The play was a winner of a Judges Award in the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2015 and is built around a young woman’s decision to come off the medication she has been taking for her mental health condition since she was a child. Norah Lopez Holden (who impressed in the Exchange’s ‘Our Town’) plays the young woman and the (always) mighty Julie Hesmondhalgh is her mother. While the central premise is rich with dramatic potential, Feaver promises us more than that. Even if you took the issues out of the play, she says, “these characters would still find a way to ruin each other’s lives”. Look out too for Sharon Brewster-Jones who delivered an award-winning performance in the Exchange’s ‘A Street Car Named Desire’.

‘The Almighty Sometimes’ runs from 9 February 2018 to 24 February 2018 at the Royal Exchange.

The Kitchen Sink

Over at Oldham, Chris Lawson seems to be livening things up a bit as Associate Director at the Coliseum. His latest production is ‘The Kitchen Sink‘, Tom Wells’ much praised slice of family life in an East Yorkshire seaside town. Premiered in 2011, the play follows a lollipop woman, her milkman husband and two children as their lives play out over one year. It promises to be both entertaining and moving. The strong cast includes Sue Devaney (who seems to be on an unstoppable roll after ‘The Threepenny Opera’ and ‘A Christmas Carol’ at Bolton Octagon) and the always watchable David Judge.

‘The Kitchen Sink’ runs from 9 February 2018 to 24 February 2018 at Oldham Coliseum.

Sue Devaney and David Judge

The Newspaper Boy

Back in Manchester, and in the welcoming arches of 53two, Simon Naylor directs a revival of Chris Hoyle’s 2009 play ‘The Newspaper Boy‘ as part of this year’s Queer Contact Festival. Set in 1992 and inspired by writer Hoyle’s real life experiences, it’s the story of a 15-year-old soap opera star who is ‘outed’ by the tabloids. There’s an experienced contingent of soap alumni in the cast, including Karen Henthorn (deservedly nominated for a Manchester Theatre Award for her performance in ‘Spring and Port Wine’ at Oldham Coliseum last year) and Eve Steele (who provided two stand-out performances at HOME’s recent PUSH Festival).

‘The Newspaper Boy’ runs from 13 February 2018 to 24 February 2018 at 53two.

Two other shows worth seeking out this month are Straight Acting Theatre Company‘s D’Eon at Hope Mill and Actors Touring Company’s Winter Solstice at HOME.

1 c. Richard Kelly

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