Talawa Theatre Company has been making theatre since 1986 and to mark their 30th anniversary year, and to commemorate 400 years since Shakespeare’s death artistic director Michael Buffong returns to the play he first directed in 1994, King Lear. In this co-production between Talawa Theatre, Manchester’s Royal Exchange and Birmingham Rep, Don Warrington steps into the royal breaches and takes on the title role.
The Royal Exchange Theatre provides the perfect performance space for this compelling drama about a mining community living in a small village in Nottinghamshire in 1911. Following the lives of three different families over a period of three weeks, Husbands & Sons interweaves three of DH Lawrence’s masterpieces into one new play – and the result is nothing short of an absolute triumph.
Wit is Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, a humorous, emotional and ultimately devastating story set in the final few hours of Dr Vivian Bearing’s life.
With a notoriously challenging musical score that makes even highly accomplished musicians run for the hills, the Exchange makes Into the Woods look like a walk in the park. Laden with wit, plenty of trees and stellar performances throughout – the execution and delivery of this contemporary fairytale adventure is superb.
There is the eerie flickering of candlelight and the faint sound of Edwardian music hall as we walk into Manchester’s Royal Exchange Studio and take our seats. Barber Owain Sawyers (Gary Lagden) is tending to his client – he’s comfortable with using a cut-throat razor as he spruces up his latest victim customer and it soon becomes apparent that Sawyers doesn’t shy away from a spot of dentistry either…
Inspired by the Salem witch hunts of the seventeenth century, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible offered a commentary on McCarthyism and the House Un-American Activities Committee when it first premiered in 1953 on Broadway. Now, playing at Manchester’s Royal Exchange it is remarkable how much these themes still resonate loudly within our society today. Aside from modern-day witch hunts on social media for the latest shamed celebrity or the fear of terrorism and National Security, The Crucible also raises ideas surrounding the cuts to Legal Aid and those perceived as vulnerable, having to represent themselves in court.
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