Ballet: Le Corsaire, Palace Theatre, Closes Sat 15 Feb, 2.30pm and 7.30pm
This swashbuckling and visually spectacular ballet, based loosely around Byron’s gloomy poem of the same name (gloomy because of some ill-fated love affair, and because he had a secret club foot), is presented as a perfect introduction to those not familiar with ballet but would like their eyebrows to ascend just that bit higher up their foreheads. Somewhere between the haughty pencil brows of Stephen Dedalus and the dense slugs of Heather Trott.
That’s where Le Corsaire sits. Dashing pirates, hareems, shipwrecks, slaves and buttocks cast of steel and forced into tights. This is what they call 'testosterone-fuelled ballet'. The oxy'ist of oxymorons.
Tickets from £15.90 here. Film: Dallas Buyers Club, Cornerhouse, All Week, Various Times
Just quite when Matthew McConaughey became such a great actor remains one of Hollywood’s greatest mysteries, along with the death of Thelma Todd and how Nicolas ‘same-face’ Cage was ever paid to act, let alone how he ever won an Oscar.
Still, perched on the Hollywood top table McConaughey now is. No longer considered the Hollywood ‘take your top off and smile could ya Matt’ fodder of How To Lose A Yawn and Magic Yawn (we’ll have some of what he’s having).
McConaughey plays a rough-arse, big-drinking, drug-chuffing, womanising cowboy recently diagnosed with AIDS. Unable to receive the treatment he needs in the States, Woodford starts smuggling experimental foreign drugs to combat the virus along with an outgoing transvestite played by Jared Leto. Jean-Marc Vallee’s picture has been critically-acclaimed by just about everyone who matters.
Tickets here. Music: Parquet Courts, Manchester Academy, Sat 15 Feb, 7.30pm
New York punk rockers Parquet Courts claimed 2013 album of the year from local music aficionados Piccadilly Records with Light Up Gold. The band are a throwback to the days of 70s punk euphoria, filled with energy, humour and uncompromising guitar riffs, their promotion from gigging in Gorilla to the Academy is evidence of their growing stock.
Tickets £14.30 here.
Kids: Steam, Sweat and Sewers, Museum of Science and Industry, Sat 15 Feb – Sun 2 March
As the nightmarish half-term period descends upon parents across the land, looking for things to keep the kids quiet remains a thankless task. With the technological onslaught meaning kids need to see something flash or beep every five seconds in order to maintain any interest, a custard cream and ‘glass of pop’ while watching Countdown round Nanna Peg’s house doesn’t cut it anymore. They thirst for more.
Steam, Sweat and Sewers is a vibrant and noisy celebration of the Museum’s nineteenth century buildings and many of its collections. Its former railway station yard will be transformed by colourful nineteenth century fairground rides and a brass band. Indoor activities include the Revolution Manchester show about great Victorian engineering achievements, a weaving workshop, machinery demonstrations, and a chance to delve into a Victorian sewer and make real slime.
FREE (except for fairground rides). More info here.
Tour: The Haunted Underworld World, Begins in St Ann’s Square (by the War Memorial), Sat 15 Feb, 1.30pm
The editor Jonathan Schofield is at it again. He's taking people into the dark, the absolute dark, under the Barton Arcade and having his wicked way with them, not unlike Gollum. Sometimes he even bites. Loads of stories on this tour both of a historical and hysterical manner. You get to nod and squeal in sequence like that Churchill bulldog having a panic attack. This is the only Manchester tour taking place in the absolute dark. Easier for Ed. To bite, you see.
Tickets £8 and tours last just over an hour (minimum age is ten for these tours, but if the child is a sissy, best to wait till they're over 12) Book here.
Charity: Cinderella Ballet for Reuben’s Retreat, Stockport Plaza, Sun 16 Feb, 4pm
Reuben’s Retreat is a charity born from the memory of Reuben Graham from Mottram, who tragically died of a brain tumour at only 23 months. Reuben’s family hope to raise £1million in order to build a North West countryside retreat for those suffering from the bereavement of a child or have a child suffering from a life threatening illness. They currently stand at £700k.
Principal English National Ballet dancer Elena Glurdjidze and the British Russian Youth Ballet are travelling up to Stockport for this one-off performance in aid of Reuben’s Retreat. Choreographed by Alexander Semenchukov and Yury Demakov with music by Serge Prokofiev, this traditional fairy-tale will be brought to life with a splash of contemporary ballet.
They’ve sold around 500 tickets and could do to sell 500 more. Hands in pockets time.
Tickets £15 Adult, £12 Child, £50 Family, are available here (the vast majority goes to the charity). Booking line 0161 477 7779.
Theatre: Proto-Type: The Good, the God and the Guillotine, Contact Theatre, Oxford Road, Tues 18 Feb, 8pm
'A long walk, the beach. A fight, a murder. The heat, and the barking of dogs. We’re travelling out of the sun and towards darkness'
...I'm burning through the sky now, two hundred degrees yeah, that's why they call me Mr... No? Fine.
A show that steals its style from the gig, the opera and the recital, The Good, the God and the Guillotine is a music-driven piece of theatre crafted by a 'laptop orchestra'. Which is particularly impressive as laptops are not renowned for their dexterity.
Tickets £11, £6 concs. Book here.
Food: Torres Wine And Food Matching Evening, Sam’s Chop House, Tues 18 Feb, 7pm
'The discovery of a wine is of greater moment than the discovery of a constellation. The universe is too full of stars.' Benjamin Franklin that one.
Still, there's a fair bit of plonk around at the moment too. Not all of it good. Even the Uzbekistans are at it. Nobody knows how it tastes, mind, because nobody has ever found Uzbekistan. Probably for the best.
The Torres family, on the other hand, have been producing top quality grape grog for nearly 150 years. Sam's Chop House have joined up with the world-renowned Torres family to bring you a celebration of the evocative food and vines of Cataluña, Spain. Cristina Torres, a fifth generation Torres, will be on hand to offer advice.
Tickets £45 (including four courses and wines) available here.
Film: Confidential Film Club: The Notebook, Dancehouse Theatre, Thurs 20 Feb, Doors 7pm, Film 8pm
The biggest terk-jerker since Phil Babb performed the Nutcracker at Anfield in 1998...
The Notebook, although never veering from it's crushing sentimentality and dogged pursuit or every single romantic cliché to ever exist (just shy of Ryan Gosling actually being a stammering Hugh Grant), is the only film to have ever made Simon Cowell and a T1000 cry. Which are practically the same thing.
Tickets £4.50 here. There's a bar in the Dancehouse too.
Talk: Festival Of Imagination: Fashion, Science and Imagination, San Carlo Farmacia (LG), Selfridges, Thurs 20 Feb, 6-8pm
Join award-winning artist and designer Helen Storey and fashion expert and campaigner Caryn Franklin at Selfridges for this talk between the two long-time collaborators touching on science, art and the creative process. The talk is introduced by the director of the Museum of Science & Industry, Jean M. Franczyk and has been arranged with the support of the museum.
Tickets £10 (include a glass of wine and a tasting plate of San Carlo's signature dishes). Call 0161 838 0610 to book your ticket.
Music: Midlake, The Ritz, Thurs 20 Feb, 7pm
Characterised by their easy, free flowing and dream-like Fleetwood Maccy sound, Midlake are an interesting and at times mesmerising band. Hailing from Denton, Texas, the band is a growing commodity with an ever expanding cult following.
Tickets £21.50 here.
Art: Mark Finzel:The Ascension Of Pan, The Old Parsonage, Stenner Lane, Didsbury, Until Sun 23 Feb, 10am-5pm
Finzel's images are all based upon original photographs, manipulated, with colours and layering to create a more distinctive and dreamy form. Most of the pieces in the Ascension of Pan exhibition show faces and physiques submerged in shape, shade and texture to create meditations on human beauty, eroticism, gender and mortality.
Free. More here.
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