Mancunians know a thing or two about protests. We’re famous for it. The city still remembers the Peterloo Massacre in 1819, where the city’s inhabitants had gathered to campaign for reform. The resulting tragedy, in which 15 people died, was enough to prompt change in the folks that sit in the Houses of Parliament.
Martin Scorcese once said “Your job is to get your audience to care about your obsessions” and for me nothing could be more true of Javaad Alipoor’s much acclaimed fringe festival feature The Believers Are But Brothers. A play about political extremism, digital technology and male violence, it formed part of HOME’s Orbit Festival, a collection of innovative new work that seek to explore today’s world.
“You’ve got to love life to have life, and you’ve got to have life to love life…It’s what they call a vicious circle.” These are the words spoken by the fictional Stage Manager, a character from Our Town, a revival of Thornton Wilder’s classic play which is currently starting its run at the Royal Exchange Theatre. Those words epitomise the spirit of this production. Looking at life in it it’s many shapes and forms through the lens of an American small town set in the early 1900s. The dull drabness of everyday life that is put under the spotlight is illuminated, partly through an engaging way of storytelling and partly through the darkness of death.
I must confess that I was bit of a Smiths fan in my youth. I remember purchasing the Japanese import EP on compact disc (yes I am that old) of the classic ‘This Charming Man’ and spending a whole weekend listening to every version on a loop. To this day I could still convince myself of retreating to a commune to ponder on the significance of the lyric “Why pamper life’s complexities when the leather runs smooth on the passenger seat”. I am not sure why I feel the need to confess, after all The Smiths and Morrissey are critically acclaimed. Yet, it is exactly that sentiment that Gary McNair so wonderfully taps into in his one man show ‘Letters to Morrissey’ at HOME.
Regular readers of Caught in the Act will no doubt know of my guilty pleasure of musicals. I love a good song and dance, I do. However, the story of young Pippin and his quest to find meaning and purpose to life must have passed me by. It may not rank amongst the classics in my songbook, but a bit of digging and I’m astonished to learn that it has more than a bit of theatrical stature.