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New Season Theatre Highlights

Nicola Mostyn checks out what cultural delights lie ahead. Once you’ve bought your pencil case.

Published on August 29th 2007.


New Season Theatre Highlights

Ah, it will soon be September. A time for sharpening pencils, buying elaborate protractor sets and promising that, this term, it is all going to be different. It doesn’t matter if you left school thirty years ago, the sense of a fresh start that September implies never really fades. And since those new term resolutions almost always include a determination to experience a bit more of Manchester’s cultural life this also chimes in nicely with the re-awakening of Manchester’s theatres as they launch their Autumn seasons.

So, is there anything in the brochures to tempt you away from Dog Borstal, that packet of chocolate Hob Nobs and the crevice on the sofa where your bum fits so nicely? Of course there is.

First, may we suggest you ease yourself in gently with Private Lives (Library Theatre, 7 Sep to 6 Oct). Your jollies may be coming to an end but Noel Coward’s fizzing comedy will instantly transport you to the South of France where a newly-married woman finds she’s sharing her romantic honeymoon experience with her ex husband and his new wife. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

Having placed yourself firmly back in the theatre-going mood, it may be time to tackle a full-on folk musical in the shape of Blood Brothers (Palace Theatre, 17 Sep to 22 Oct). Willy Russell’s moving and much loved story of twin brothers separated at birth who feud with each other little knowing their roots returns to the Palace after a sell-out run in April, produced by Bill ‘Any Dream Will Do’ Kenwright and starring Linda Nolan as Mrs Johnstone. Those pesky Nolans get everywhere.

Continuing the twins theme, over at The Lowry The Royal Shakespeare Company present their version of The Comedy of Errors (The Lowry, 19 Oct to 27 Oct), the bard’s earliest comedy in which brothers, sisters, masters and servants are totally bewildered as identities are mistaken, hilarities evoked and families eventually reunited. Phew.

Over at the Royal Exchange the main theatre will, this season, be home to several contemporary productions which received a great reception in the Studio Theatre in previous years, including Bridget O Conner’s tale of two hapless lifeguards, The Flags, (Royal Exchange, 23 Oct to 10 Nov). Meanwhile, the studio offers a double bill of works based on the writings of Manchester’s Jackie Kay. Straw Girl and The Adoption Papers (Royal Exchange Studio, 1 Nov to 24 Nov) are adapted from her children’s novel and poem cycle respectively and promise a warm and witty exploration of the notion of identity, belonging and the female experience.

If you prefer actions to words and the gothic to the contemporary then resolve to catch The Snow Queen (Palace Theatre, 28 Nov to 2 Dec), a grand, atmospheric fairy tale inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s story, performed by English National Ballet and backed by their full orchestra. Or if you want to twist your mind whilst the dancers twist their bodies, go and see Knots (The Lowry, Nov 22 to Nov 23) in which psychoanalyst R.D. Laing’s book about the complexity and near-insanity of relationships is acted out in high-octane choreography. But don’t take your new girl/boyfriend.

Bolton Octagon celebrate their 40th anniversary this year and their programme is particularly impressive, with almost every production grabbing the attention including a newly commissioned play about Bolton Wanderers And Did Those Feet (27 Sep 27 to 20 Oct). But if you don’t manage to catch anything else make a note in your diary for their festive show A Christmas Carol (23 Nov to19 Jan) which once again harnesses the talents of Neil Duffield and promises to continue the Octagon’s virtuous habit of offering witty and innovative family friendly entertainment at Christmastime. And no Gary Wilmot.

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