Archived entries for Theatre

The Machine

The Machine

A play about chess and computers doesn’t, on the face of it, sound as if it would provide much potential for nailbiting drama. But those who decided on these grounds to give The Machine a miss should be kicking themselves. It’s a gripping piece of theatre, brilliantly written and featuring outstanding performances from the two leads.

Running for 11 nights at the Manchester International Festival before it transfers to New York, The Machine focuses on the famous 1997 six-game chess match between the charismatic Russian Garry Kasparov and IBM’s Deep Blue, designed by Taiwanese computer scientist Feng-hsiung Hsu. With the audience playing the role of the studio audience for the televised show-down, the action begins with the first game, and we return to the match repeatedly throughout the play, alternating with perfectly paced flashbacks that explore each man’s past and the immense personal and emotional sacrifices each made in the build-up to the historic contest. Continue reading…


Arguably the most hotly-anticipated jewel in the Manchester International Festival’s crown, Macbeth, starring Kenneth Branagh in the title role and jointly directed by Branagh and Rob Ashford, sold out in a mere nine minutes when tickets were released back in January, even before the venue for the production had been announced.

As it turns out, it’s staged at St Peter’s, a deconsecrated church in the central Manchester former industrial district of Ancoats. The audience are required to collect their tickets from another location beforehand so they can be assigned a ‘clan’ (a slightly twee gimmick that I couldn’t really embrace) and escorted in groups to St Peter’s itself. Continue reading…

Neon Neon, Village Underground (6 Jun 2013)

Neon Neon, Village Undergound

Continually inventive with two biographical electro-pop albums, Neon Neon have now taken the live music experience to another plane with their touring performance of Praxis Makes Perfect which celebrates and inspires through popular culture, while still getting the basics spot-on, by letting us all have a good dance to a brilliant sound.

Their third consecutive night at the Village Underground in Shoreditch was more much Performance Art than a run-of-the-mill Thursday night gig in London; an indication of what was to come came in an online invitation asking ticket-holders to wear an item of red and bring a copy of a favourite book to exchange with fellow gig-goes, referred to as “comrades”, ahead of the prompt 8pm start. And “comrades” seemed appropriate as once inside the atmosphere was both electric and unifying. Continue reading…

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