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Sleuth 17/07/2009

Rufus Wainwright should be arrested, hack needs re-treads, Royal Exchange turns into amusement arcade and the dead don't count

Published on July 16th 2009.

Sleuth 17/07/2009

Sleuth is a sideways glance at the city every week. We give £25 for every story/rumour and piece of absurdity you find for us to print. We ask for the money back if any legal action follows.

Manhunt for Rufus Wainwright at Manchester International Festival
Sleuth's been to loads of Manchester International Festival (MIF) events. The whole occasion's been full of gems. Sleuth doesn't think Rufus Wainwright’s opera Prima Donna has been one of them. At one point in the silly production, the heroine Regine and her maid sing in unison, “I’m going to call the Police.” They sing it in French. On his visit Sleuth decided to call the Police as well. In English, “Could you come and arrest Rufus Wainwright?” explained Sleuth. “He’s a thief. He’s just stolen two and three-quarter hours of my life.” The sergeant in Bootle Street Police Station sighed and sang tenor-like in French: “We’ve had calls asking for the Canadian songsmith's immediate deportation. His opera has no tunes and causes consternation." Then Sleuth, the audience and the Police sergeant all sang together: “We’d have preferred an opera by Alfred Wainwright, the Lancashire fell-walking man. Climbing Scafell in the rain would have been better than this sham.”

Pantomime in Albert Square
Sleuth might be being a bit harsh about Wainwright’s opera, although many people seem to agree with him. Still in a festival of premieres and special events there were bound to be a few bum notes. One person who liked the Wainwright opera, however, was the Council Leader, Sir Richard Leese. Sir RL said to Sleuth about Prima Donna: “I really enjoyed it. You obviously missed the point. It was a real entertainment.” “I disagree, it was a pantomime of the worst sort,” said Sleuth. “Oh no, it wasn’t,” said the Council Leader. “Oh yes, it was,” said Sleuth.

BBC late arrivals
There was further embarrassment on the night that Sleuth attended the Wainwright opera. This was caused by Ekow Eshun (pictured below). You might have seen him all over the TV, he’s a writer, journalist, and artistic director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. He’s also a regular contributor to BBC2's Friday night arts programme Newsnight Review. He arrived late to the opera and caused a scene demanding to be let in. He kept grabbing the auditorium door handle and pulling it open. The attendant kept wrestling it closed. Eventually the management relented and he, and the lady with him, made a ridiculously loud entry into the theatre. The Newsnight Review was until recently called the Late Review. In this instance Eshun was the Late Reviewer - ho, ho. Still he provided the most entertaining moment of the opera by causing a scene far more dramatic than anything happening on stage.

The dead can’t count
Sleuth was on his way to an event in Manchester Art Gallery on Sunday. On Mosley Street he bumped into a vast procession of zombies. The procession involved lots of Mancunians dressed up as the undead. The idea was to break the world record Zombie walk, which is held by Nottingham with 1200 people taking to the streets. Sleuth stopped one of the undead and said, “Have you broken the record?” The charming walking corpse replied in a shaky voice, “I don’t know. I can’t count. I’m dead.” Bless him. Still Sleuth reckons given the number of people he saw that they must have buried that Nottingham figure.

Nutter and the tape measure
Sleuth had a fabulous lunch at Harvey Nichols on Monday courtesy of new head chef Stuart Thomson. Sleuth was with Gordo, David Gale, the chef of the Podium Restaurant at the Hilton, and Andrew Nutter, of the eponymous Nutter’s in Rochdale. Nutter, who likes to live up to his name, had a tape measure slung round his fetching pink shirt. “What’s that for?” asked Sleuth. “It’ll come in handy measuring things later,” said Nutter mysteriously. Sleuth never did find out what he might be measuring.

Space pensioners
Sleuth gets asked to do some odd things, including recently on 6 July a guided tour for the team of the Discovery Space Shuttle, led by Astronaut Mission Commander Lee Archambault. The spacemen had returned from the International Space Station in June, and were in Britain to inspire the nation’s budding astronauts at the Museum of Science and Industry. It was the second mission for Astronaut Swanson seen in the blue T-shirt here. “They call me a veteran now. Strange in space travel how after two jobs you become a veteran. In most trades you’d still be a novice.”

Royal Exchange sells out
So Sleuth was in the Royal Exchange with James Sullivan, a well-known teacher of this parish. “Ah what a terrible shame,” said Sullivan. “They’ve had to sell out. Fruit machines in the theatre, times must be really hard if they’ve gone down that road to raise cash.” He was looking at the fruit machines in front of the theatre entrance. “Yes,” said Sleuth, “and there’s lap-dancing every Wednesday. With oiled babes I believe.” “That’s going too far,” said Mr Sullivan, not apparently too shocked. “You have to question whether this government has its priorities in the arts sorted out.” Sleuth couldn’t keep it up any more. “You daft bugger,” he said, “these machines are part of the set for the Manchester International Festival’s Everybody Loves a Winner play set in a bingo hall.”

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14 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

janineJuly 16th 2009.

Tsk tsk Sleuth. I know that beneath your grubby mac and pork pie hat you are a discerning soul with impeccable taste. Of course Rufus showed dominance from the father-like impressario...and liberty, in the same sex support between the maid and the diva. Parallels maybe with Rufus's own life? if you couldn't spot that, perrhaps you spend too long enjoying the ambience of The Pavilion or elsewhere before you went along for your review? Never mind, the most important thing is that rufus got loads of lovely media coverage and visitors for the city and the Fesitval. And everyone enjoys the furits of that. I agree his tunes could do with some titivation. So whiel we disagree on the profundity of his theme, we have common ground in thinking the Festival was overall fabulous ....roll on 2011. x.

tom eddisonJuly 16th 2009.

Where were the zombies walking from? The dead centre of town? ...hahahahahahahahaha

Oiled babeJuly 16th 2009.

Do you want to see me in the round, boys?

MarkJuly 16th 2009.

They didn't break the Zombie Walk record, alas - they were about 160 people short, with Nottingham having managed 1,400 or thereabouts. So basically, if they'd had any sort of publicity drive a bit nearer the time, they would've smashed it. There's a repeat walk planned for October - let's hope they learn their lessons advertising-wise; we should effortlessly be able to make Manchester the official, er, 'deadest' place in the UK.

SleuthJuly 16th 2009.

Nah, it was empty of everything apart from talented singers and great sets. It was a bore without even the decency to have any good tunes. There have been some exceptional events at this Festival, shame that this one - and in the end it ain't the Festival's fault - was just so limp and lifeless. Themes of dominance and bullying? Are you sure? That's like looking for profound content in Hollyoaks.

janineJuly 16th 2009.

Honestly Sleuth, of course Prima Donna was in part a silly production. Remember when the journalist sang:"it's just like being in an opera". Don't you remember those play-within-a-play techniques that you must have studied at O-level, Bottom and Titania and all of that? Granted it was a bit raw in places, could do with a bit of polish and refinement, but we had a great night out. And if you want to dig deeper to look at themes of dominance, bullying, equality, then that's all there too. In fact liberty, fraternity, equality would be a good subtitle. And so fitting to be in French? Anyway, well done Rupert and MIF. And excellent coverage with Yentob's documentary, Jonathn Ross ...this is just what MIF should be all about.

Forced to admitJuly 16th 2009.

It's a bloody good Sleuth this week!

LJuly 16th 2009.

Rupert, who's Rupert.? [see janine]We thought the opera was great, a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Rufus is completly original in all his work. We love him. The festival has been brilliant.

AnonymousJuly 16th 2009.

Dear Sleuth. aww you missed it. The MEN thinks Prima Donna is an anti opera. So a humour bi pass or maybe you agree (or is Sleuth you alter ego). Anyway be careful teasing the cops if you bald.

Judy! Judy! Judy!July 16th 2009.

Yes, i completely agree that Rufus is totally original in all his work. Hence his song-for-song revisit of Judy Garland's famous 60's concert at Madison Square Garden that he did at er....Madison Square Garden. He's a self-indulgent dirgemeister of the highest order and should, following his amateur posturing in Manchester, re-visit his own backside,where he seems happier to reside.

JBJuly 16th 2009.

I went to watch Prima Donna on Sunday and all I can say is what a load of rubbish! Rufus should stick to what he knows best and leave opera to the experts. I actually left during the interval and went for lunch at San Carlo's which thankfully saved the day!

fromthefyldeJuly 16th 2009.

Try St.Annes on Sea or Silverdale for the next zombie walk there's thousands of the living dead already there

Matthew Fronsham of WiganJuly 16th 2009.

That was a good one Tom - but I think it's more likely that they were just trying to get a 'rise' out of us - like rise from the dead - get it?!? Classic!

tomegranateJuly 16th 2009.

Hey f**k me I'm famous, that's me in the zombies photo! Uh, in the grey suit that is, not a dress.

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