You’ll be pleased to hear that this month’s theatre selections serve up a rich slice of everyone’s three favourite things: sex, swearing and scandal.
Let’s begin at Hope Mill, which – despite being only one year old – has just won a national Hospital Club award for best theatre. Co-founders Joe and William are not shy about their shared love for musical theatre, so it’s no surprise to hear that Hair will be their next sing-along sensation. It deals with drug use, sexual liberation and nudity – in other words, everything you’d hope for in a Manchester night out.
The X-rated theme continues over at HOME with Ibsen’s Ghosts. Adultery and alcoholism are the subjects at large, in a play that was controversial at the time and is now more powerful and pertinent than ever. HOME is also pushing the boundaries with its Berlin Now series that includes a healthy slice of burlesque. Meanwhile the tart-tongued Penny Arcade slaughters sacred cows in her stand-up show Longing Lasts Longer at Liverpool’s Unity Theatre.
Finally, something a touch more restrained although equally steamy: The Peony Pavilion. This ancient Chinese tale has been turned into a ballet that’s got so much lust it would make Romeo & Juliet blush.
Here are our top 5 picks
Hair deals with difficult issues – drug use, sexual revolution and political protest – but is packed full of proper pop songs, and should be another singalong success for Hope Mill Theatre.
HOME brings you the best theatre from the city of burlesque, Bowie and Brecht. Includes an intimate flick book theatre, a powerful play about love among poverty and, of course, plenty of cabaret.
Penny Arcade was born to be on stage. Her career has taken in Warhol’s Factory, AIDS activism and dozens of performance pieces along the way. In her new stand-up show Longing Lasts Longer expect gender norms to be transformed, sacred cows to be slaughtered and your sides to split just a bit.
National Ballet of China are one of the world’s biggest and best ballet companies, and their adaptation of The Peony Pavilion is even more romantic than Romeo & Juliet. For those seeking a second dose of dance to follow up on the superb Giselle – look no further.
Sex, scandal and syphilis – as you might well imagine, not everyone approved of this play when it was first performed in 1880, but Ibsen’s classic Ghosts is more powerful and pertinent than ever. Cracking creative team includes director Polly Findlay (National Theatre) and writer David Watson (Royal Court).
The very best exhibitions in Manchester and the North include a collaboration with a renowned dance company, the return of Manchester Science Festival (bigger and better than ever), a showcase of exquisite craft at the Old Granada Studios, and much more. All in all, it’s an exciting, boundary transcending time for art in the North.
With Rising Stars and World Literature, nothing says October in the Rainy City like Manchester Literature Festival. As we enter the final furlongs, there are still tickets available for some events, from creative non-fiction to a canalside special commission. And once MLF is over, Manchester Science Festival will be chemically enhancing words with poems about the periodic table.