I personally blame Porridge. Their cute array of loveable rogues. Fletcher. Godber. Even the bad guy, Harry Grout, is played with a sentimental kitsch that has the audience guffawing in sentimentality. In fact there’s a whole host of dramas that give prison life a bit of sappy saccharine schmaltz. Think Shawshank Redemption. Green Mile. Heck, even Midnight Express is packed with maudlin idealism. So, when the Jumper Factory comes along, a play about what it really is like to be inside prison, it shatters our dewy-eyed illusions.
Where did the Summer go? It’s been a whirlwind few months that has encapsulated the joys of a typical British season. A cornucopia of malevolent weather, heroic sporting triumphs and a calendar chock-a-block with festivals that cater for every whim and fancy. So, here we are at the start of September and the onset of Autumn, when the nights start to get longer, the days become colder and it all feels less hazy than it once was. Therefore, its with keen feverishness that we welcome Hive City Legacy, currently playing at HOME Manchester, for one last chance to enjoy that feeling that only the Summer months can bring. That outlandish splash of colour, the base-thumping grooving beats and the lyrical machinations that let me have one last chance to be utterly indulgent.
Recently HOME Manchester have been knocking it out of the park. They’ve received rave reviews for their summer festivities, with Incoming and Horizon festivals proving to be a hit with audiences and critics alike. Their latest offering – One Night in Miami – is hoping to be just as popular, which sees the imagined account of a fabled real-life event that sees four icons come together in a downtown Miami motel room.
Incoming Festival 2019 is a celebration of the best emerging theatre companies from the UK and beyond and is currently showcasing a week of shows at Home Manchester. If anything sums up the spirit of this festival then it would be Strictly Arts – a young, black-led theatre company – and their production of Freeman, which examines the unspoken link between mental health and systemic racism. It was an evening of brutality intertwined with beauty that left the audience totally and utterly blown away.
Hope Mill Theatre is one of those artistic establishments that are just too good to be true. Just off the beaten track, a hidden treasure for true theatre enthusiasts to find and rave on about for eternity. Their program often resonates with the audience and become firm favourites with those that extravagantly indulge in a good old fashioned stage production. Their latest offering is another sure fire hit, teaming up with Elysium Theatre Company and Queen’s Hall Arts Centre, they are reviving the August Strindberg’s classic tale of Miss Julie.