Tag: Manchester

TUC in Manchester: delegates back calls for “people’s vote” on Brexit

Trades unionists meeting in Manchester this week have backed a “people’s vote” on Brexit if the Government fails to negotiate a good deal.

Some trade union leaders oppose a second referendum on whether to leave the European Union.

But the TUC’s Europe spokesman, Steve Turner, called on delegates at the annual congress to “rise like lions” if the deal is bad for British workers.

He told the conference: “This is not a call for a second referendum, a place some outside our movement want to push, but a vote on the terms of our departure if parliament fails us.”

Mr Turner, Unite’s Assistant General Secretary described the attempts by the government to negotiate a Brexit deal as shambolic.

But he warned that the Labour and trade movement must work to heal divisions left by Brexit to avoid the rise of the far right in communities that feel abandoned by the political elite.

He said: “A betrayal of the Brexit vote without answers will only add to a crisis of belonging and identity that could find its way onto our streets with a rapid and dangerous rise of the far right.

“It demands we rise like lions to the challenges for our class, to the threat of a hard-right Tory attack on working people as well as the threats from bosses who think they can use Brexit to shed jobs, relocate and off-shore our work or put a match to hard won terms and conditions, rights and protections.

“It demands MPs reject a disastrous no deal and send a defeated, broken government back to the country in a general election. It demands we extend Article 50 to give an incoming Labour government time and opportunity to negotiate a deal for the many, not the few. And if the politicians can’t do that, then we demand we go back to the people so they can vote on the deal on offer.

“It’s our deal, our future, not theirs.

Congress we need a better, fairer Britain. We need to heal the wounds. Only our movement is capable of doing that.“

Read Steve Turner’s speech in full, here

So, if Dominic Raab returns from Brussels with no deal, or with a deal that’

REVIEW: The King’s Speech @ the Opera House, Manchester

Raymond Coulthard (King George VI) & Jason Donovan (Lionel Logue). Picture by Hugo Glendinning (1)With the memory of the film still fresh in most people’s minds it was always going to be a tough task bringing the hugely popular King’s Speech back to the stage.

But one thing some less than imaginative direction of this production did achieve was to expose what is in fact a fairly flaky script and it wasn’t helped by the fact that some of the lines were thrown away, losing their impact.

Surprisingly, for me, one of the show’s strengths was Jason Donovan, who did a competent job in the role of Lionel Logue, the Australian speech therapist tasked with giving the reluctant King (Raymond Coulthard) the voice needed to rally a nation.

But too many performances fell short of the mark in this production and often appeared tired. OK, we know Edward was the baddie and a Nazi sympathiser – but did his portrayal have to be so caricatured? And whilst the take on Churchill was often bordering on the caricature, that of the Arch Bishop aiming to expose the disconnect between a stuffy establishment and the will of the people, was not enough of one.

The use of the panelled wall with doors at various levels was a good staging device, but for me, frustratingly, the production did not make the most of it.

And at times there was a touch of the AmDram about it, especially the scene at the party where characters seemed to be thrown onto the stage aimlessly in what reminded me of a drama student exercise.

There were times when the production had its moments and  looked as though it could be great but fell short at a number of points. Dare I say it, it stuttered.

REVIEW: Calamity Jane @ the Palace, Manchester

CJ-064_CalamityJane-39 (1)by Eddie Toomer-McAlpine

A class act ensemble of singing and dancing musicians gave the Palace Theatre a hoe-down it will never forget.

A thoroughly enjoyable and engaging performance of the western classic saw stand out performances from BBC’s “I’d Do Anything” star Jodie Prenger (Calamity Jane) and Bobby Delaney (Francis Fryer).

Imaginative direction from Nikolai Foster transformed pianos into stagecoaches and saxophones into shotguns.

Squeals and squeaks in supreme comic timing was what set Jodie Prenger apart from most. Her ability to trust her own comedic instinct and not simply follow the script hooked me in from the start right up until the finish.

Led by the comical prowess of Prenger, the cast exuded charisma and likeability. Charming performances from Paul Kissaun (Rattlesnake) and Matthew James Hinchcliffe (Buck) in some of the smaller but very memorable roles.

Runs till March 28

REVIEW: Rigoletto @ The Opera House, Manchester

I have to confess I’m not the sort of bloke who does a lot of opera. What I know about it I can fit on the back of a stamp.

In fact, until last night I thought Rigoletto was probably a mid-field dynamo Manuel Pelligrini had his eye on in the January transfer window.

And my wife thought it was a posh pasta dish on the new Pizza Express menu.

But last night’s lavish production of the the Verdi masterpiece based on the Victor Hugo play of love, betrayal and revenge blew us both away and put paid to the myth that opera is not us mere mortals.

It had everything – a timeless score, conducted to much applause by Nicolae Dohartaru, a live golden eagle, greyhounds and nudity – bringing to life the opulence and decadence of Renaissance Italy.

And there were some stunning performances – particularly, Maria Tonina as the tragic Gilda.

As this strong cast took their much deserved plaudits from an appreciative audience, I thought “Yes, I could this again.” In fact I am. I’m of to Madama Butterfly tonight.

You should too. You might think all that culture is bound to be expensive. But it costs about the same as watching Manchester City at Eastlands or United at Old Trafford and unlike watching football, you are guaranteed to be entertained.

REVIEW: The Producers @ the Palace Theatre, Manchester

The Producers UK Tour 2015 - Jason Manford as Leo Bloom - photo credit Manuel Harlan

If there were any doubts about a relatively untried and untested cast  in one of Mel Brooks’ most iconic productions, they were well and truly dispelled after just ten minutes into what was a rip-roaring success.

And by the final curtain an appreciative audience roared their approval at a triumph for Manchester comedian Jason Manford, who was a revelation as the timid accountant turned fraudster attempting to become a millionaire by staging a Broadway flop.

There’s always a little trepidation amongst fans of much-loved comics when they take to the stage, but Manford stepped up to the plate well and delivered a performance that will live long in the memory.

The Producers UK Tour 2015 - Cory English as Max Bialystock and company - photo credit Manuel Harlan

However, it was Cory English who deserves greatest praise who was perfect as the the scheming, unscrupulous Max Bialystock.

The Mel Brooks magic could be felt throughout a production which did justice to the raucous outrage which has made the story such a huge success.

Phil Jupitus could have perhaps given the role of psychopathic neo-Nazi writer Franz Liebkind a  little more oomph and Louis Spence basically played himself.

But there were some amazing performances from all sections of the cast with David Bedella’s Roger de Bris and Tiffany Graves’ Ulla particularly strong.

Runs till Saturday March 21