The Mighty Walzer at the Royal Exchange, preview: Ping pong & comedy

Daniel Jarvis
The Mighty Walzer poster image

We preview Simon Bent’s witty adaptation of Howard Jacobson’s best-selling novel.

“Why it was that every Jewish boy growing up in Manchester in the 1950s played table tennis with some degree of competence I can’t explain…” The worlds of table tennis and Manchester’s Jewish community intertwine in an adaptation of Howard Jacobson’s The Mighty Walzer at the Royal Exchange, accompanied by an exhibition at Manchester Jewish Museum.

The Royal Exchange brings the sharp and witty world of Howard Jacobson to life; like a bookish, Jewish version of The Who’s pinball wizard Tommy, central character Oliver Walzer transforms his dysfunctional world with the discovery of ping-pong in this achingly funny coming-of-age story. Directed by Jonathan Humphreys and starring Elliot Levey as Oliver and Tracy-Ann Oberman as his overbearing mother, The Mighty Walzer promises a warmly nostalgic and hilarious night out.

Oliver Walzer is like a bookish, Jewish version of The Who’s pinball wizard Tommy

To accompany the production, Manchester Jewish Museum are running their own programme of events. Throughout July there will be guided walking tours running from Cheetham Hill’s Jewish Quarter through to the Royal Exchange. In addition to the tours there will also be an exhibition titled Chess in Shorts – Table Tennis and growing up in Jewish Manchester at the theatre, in collaboration with Howard Jacobson and Jewish Museum. Finally, the multi-award-winning Jacobson himself will be in conversation at the theatre on Monday 11 July.

Manchester’s Jewish community is one of the largest in the country: its roots lead back to the 18th century and Manchester’s rapid expansion. The community’s heritage is well represented in the Jewish Museum, which covers over 200 years of community history, and is housed in the city’s oldest surviving synagogue. As well as a vast collection of photos, documents and ephemera, the museum also boasts a huge oral history archive, keeping the stories and experiences of Manchester’s Jewish community alive.

Culture Guides

Backyard Cinema


It only takes a quick glance at the film listings to realise that Christmas is coming, and quick. We’ve rounded up some of our festive highlights alongside standout seasons and festivals.


Pause in the hustle and bustle of festive prep to take in some inspiration from this month’s top exhibitions.

The Ocean at the End of The Lane at the lowry


It’s the most wonderful time of the year and Manchester is bursting with fun, family activities to keep the kids entertained in the run up to Christmas!

Writer Nicholas Royle. Photo by Zoe McLean


There are spooky stories, Christmas crime thrillers and plenty of books for stocking fillers as December unfolds and Manchester and the wider North region switches on the live literature lights.


The festive season is here, and whether you want to escape it or embrace it, we’ve got you covered.

Theatre in Manchester and the North


Contemporary cabaret, powerful monologues and world premiere musicals. Our theatre guide spans the festive season and beyond.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester and the north.

Food and Drink

Explore the best restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North for autumn.

Tours and Activities

We’re deep into Autumn now but don’t let that stop you from finding a new tour or activity to get stuck into.

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
Activity Until 3 December 2022, from £35.00

Wreath Making Workshop at Leeds City Museum

Image credit: Maryna Makarenko, Sun-Eaters, 2022
Cinema Until 4 December 2022, from £5

HOME Artist Film Weekender 2022

Red Squirrel at Lightwaves
Festivals Until 4 December 2022, FREE

Lightwaves at Salford Quays

Cinema Until 8 December 2022, from £7.95

Aftersun at HOME

Elizabeth Gaskell's House garden. Photo by Chris Tucker
Literature Until 11 December 2022, from £4.50

Book sale at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Cinderella at Hope Mill Theatre
Families Until 11 December 2022, from £27.00

Cinderella at Hope Mill Theatre

Music Until 17 December 2022, from £5

RNCM Autumn Season

Flecky Bennett’s HALLOWEEN 2018 Ghost Walk
Activity Until 17 December 2022, from £15

Flecky Bennett’s Ghost Walks