The world of the silent film star seems to be a bygone era. I cannot recall the last time terrestrial television broadcasted something from that long gone forgotten age, where once upon a time we would be accustomed to the antics of Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin or that irascible double act, Laurel and Hardy. In The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel from ‘Told by an Idiot’ at HOME Manchester, we are transported back into that wonderful world where without an utterance of a spoken word, entertainers can become such captivating storytellers.
The Manchester music scene is renowned the world over. There are gigs that still remain important in the fabrics of time. People still talk of the importance of Bob Dylan going electric at the Free Trade Hall in the 19860s or when the Sex Pistols rocked up in 1976 at the same venue. Everyone seems to have been at the legendary Stone Roses gig, when they announced themselves at the Hacienda in the mid 1980s. I myself know of the importance of attending gigs by Happy Mondays or Oasis before they’d woven themselves into the consciousness of fans. And then there is Nina at the NIA in 1991, which amazingly was recreated at HOME as part of the 2020 PUSH Festival.
I’ve met Nishla Smith before. More coincidentally it is in the exact place that I’ve encountered her majestic voice doing the same festival. Smith is back, once more taking her place in HOME Manchester’s much vaunted PUSH Festival. This time round its another personal retelling, in What Happened to Agnes, she recounts a family secret, through song and animation and her own unique way of telling a simple story.
Tania Camara doesn’t utter a single word. Not one. Instead for the whole hour of the production of Oreo, she gives a tour de force of a performance in captivating the audience to her every whim. Oreo is part of HOME Manchester’s now established PUSH Festival, which not only showcases the best the region has to offer but in my humble opinion, brings a little bit of sunshine in this bleakest of months.
We’re kicking off 2020 with a powerful thought provoking production from Royal Exchange Theatre. Cuttin’ It is a story of FGM and the issues this complex and often controversial topic seems to raise. This is also a story of displaced communities and – at the heart of it that aged old tale – of teenagers just growing up and coming to terms with their place in this world.