Ends 30th April 3015.
Runs 2 hours 30 minutes approximately.
Audio-Described performance:, 12th March 2016 (touch tour available on
this date - ask box office for details).
Captioned performance: 27th February 2016 at 2pm.
AS YOU LIKE IT (comedy)
Runs 2 hours 40 minutes approximately.
Audio-Described performance: 13th February 2016 at 2pm (touch tour
available on this date, ask box office for details).
Captioned performance: 2nd March 2016 at 7.30pm.
LES BLANCS (play)
THIS PRODUCTION IS PART OF THE TRAVELEX £15 SEASON
Previews from 22nd March, opens 30th March 2016.
Captioned performance: 4th May 2016 at 7.30pm.
Aly uses a virtual world to escape bullying and an unhappy home. Damon
Albarn and Moira Buffini provide music and words for this Manchester
International Festival co-production transfer, based on Lewis Carroll's "Alice's
Adventures In Wonderland."
As You Like It:
With Duke Daddy thrown out of the kingdom, daughter Rosalind and cousin Celia
head for the Arden woods, where Rosalind suddenly feels the need to become a
man... and fall in love. Billy Shakespeare directed by Polly Findlay. Rosalie
Craig, Mark Benton and Patsy Ferran get the tasty roles.
Les Blancs: Not set in a French infertility clinic, apparently. English
Tshenbe returns to an African country for a family funeral, and gets caught up
in both family and national crises. Yael Farber directs Lorraine Hansberry's
Wonder.land: (seen at the afternoon
performance on 19th December 2015):
Some musicals are just bad, and a very few are "so bad, they are actually good."
This falls into the "not good enough to be 'so bad that it is good' but it isn't
all bad" category. Carroll logic, but true. Simply, it really isn't good at all,
but it isn't endlessly boring, which would make it a plain bad show.
is that the entire show doesn't convince the monkey that it has a story worth
telling. Had this been a straight stage version of "Alice In Wonderland," there
would have been much to admire. The show looks superb - not so much the
projected graphics, which pall after a few minutes, but the costumes and
lighting are excellent.
Some of the stagecraft too, but even then it trips -
or rather squashes - its own logic at times. A fabulous caterpillar doesn't have
its space respected by other actors walking through it, destroying the illusion.
A Mock Turtle (Cydney Uffindell-Phillips) is trapped in a recycle bin - and thus
forced to play as a (beautifully done, admittedly) dalek. Elaborate storylines
are set up, then vanish - the bullies are a key element winking out of existence
when the story needs to fly. Father's arrest seems unresolved, and the entire
thing left the monkey wondering what the point was.
Sadly, the biggest failure was in young Aly (Lois Chimimba) choosing an online
representation of herself. Wanting to be the opposite of a young, mixed-race,
girl, she chose a young, white, girl - "Alice In Wonderland" type. The exact
opposite, as any wordsmith should know, would be "Old, single race, male." A
(seemingly hastily inserted) few lines of explanation failed to mollify the
monkey, who was pretty upset to think that the show's message to other girls of
her background was that only "Alice" types are worth aspiring to.
Nothing much to say about either music or lyric, as neither landed anywhere near
where they should, though didn't scupper the show entirely. Anna Francolini as
Ms Manxome, the teacher, only confirmed the monkey's final opinion though. This
was, pretty obviously, a desperately commercial bid by the National for a
worldwide hit in the same field as the RSC "Matilda." Instead, they have
something that vanishes without trace in a rabbit-hole of creative ennui. See
this for curiosity only, but it really isn't a treat for the kids - and be aware
they drop the "F" bomb if you do take them... which you wouldn't, unless they
have been particularly naughty this year.
As You Like It:
(seen at the afternoon performance on 6th February 2016). This is
the most curious walk in the woods since Bill Bryson recruited Stephen Katz.
Lizzie Clachan's superb transformation scene from office to woodland is
memorable - mostly for the spectacle, but at least partly because it bears
little relationship to what follows. Indeed, the opening set isn't that helpful
for the early scenes anyway... how often do you stage a wrestling match
mid-workstations... er... moving on...
The good news is some of the performances. For the first time the monkey "got"
Rosalie Craig (Rosalind). Her 'solid presence' technique worked beautifully with
Patsy Ferran's ping-pong ball Celia. Also worthy of note were Mark Benton, a
sympathetic Touchstone, Paul Chahidi finding fresh humour delivering "The Ages
of Man" as Jaques, Leo Wringer as a commanding Duke Frederick and Leon Annor as
a wrestler who has strong command of Shakespeare's rhythms.
For the rest, the play seemed insubstantial, the pacing erratic and not always
comfortable. This is pure soap opera - everybody falling in love with everybody
else for no reason, with an idyllic setting and cute sheep (actually, nicely
done by the ensemble) included. While Polly Findlay extracts the maximum from
the most famous lines in the text, the monkey was left feeling that the rest of
the play was often cruelly exposed as insubstantial around it. It's a really
decent production, but with a better reason for its setting and clearer
signalling of character motivations, the cast was there to have made it a really
Les Blancs: Not available.