“Everything could change or nothing could change,” says Jake (Ethan Rodgers) in Pass, the new play from writer Naomi Sumner that is debuting at this year’s 24:7. That single sentence is a great summation of the teenage experience: life is exciting, fresh and fun while, at the same time, it all seems so hard to grasp, slow to move and no one thinks you’re ready for it. It is this universal story of juvenile yearning that Pass follows, told through the tale of two school kids in love. The premise is pretty simple: Jake wants to go to university and get out of Manchester while his girlfriend Maddie (Natasha Davidson) is quite happy where she is, glad to be young and in love. Caught in this clash is newly qualified teacher Louise (Joanna Hinton), a tutor to Jake and a potential rival for his affections as far as Maddie is concerned. The three strong wills go to war, with inevitable break-ups, make-ups, and break downs as Jake takes his final exams. The question is, will he pass? Pass’ storyline works well and the dialogue has strong moments, as with the quoted line at the start of this review. However, the quality is not consistent throughout and is occasionally clunky rather than quick and charismatic; a drama like this needs a real feel for how young people speak and a sense of their energy. That said, both Rodgers and Davidson did well with the material and made believable teens, which is not an easy assignment for an actor. As to the direction, the pacey scene changes gave a feeling of life flashing by, but the sudden snaps of sound used to punctuate these didn’t quite work, preventing a mood from developing; it was hard to get lost in the play. It was also a tricky piece to see in the round, as several key moments happened at the far reaches of the stage where they could not be seen so well from the other side. Pass succeeds in capturing that feeling that fifteen is everything, that there is no time to lose and you’ve got to have it all right now – an impatience for life to begin. While it has some weaknesses there is also enough to suggest that this play can be improved, and that those involved have potential. Words: Andrew Anderson Image: Courtesy of 24:7
Wednesday, 23 July 2014
Sunday, 13 July 2014
It is said that if you knew when you'd die you'd go mad. But the madness of not knowing when you can live again is itself a form of death. That's what an Irishman, and Englishman and an American find out when they're imprisoned by unseen terrorists with unknown motives for an indefinite amount of time in Frank McGuinness' play Someone Who'll Watch Over Me.
Wednesday, 9 July 2014
First up there's Sugarhill Gang's show on Thursday 17 July. Best known for 'Rapper's Delight', a chart hit that sampled the break from Chic's 'Good Times' and capitalised on the growing hip hop movement, the New Jersey trio returned in the late '90s with Jump On It, a rap album for children.
Manchester's Fingathing bring their leftfield live hip hop to support.
Then on Saturday 2 August the clocks are set to clubnight as Grandmaster Flash takes centre stage on the ones and twos. Along with The Furious Five MCs, he is a man whose CV is decorated with the accolade of being in the first hip hop group to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, having cut popular tracks such as 'The Message'.
The Juicy DJs are on hand to fill your ears with their record collection at that one.
Words: Ian Pennington
Images: courtesy of Trof
For more information and tickets, click here for Sugarhill Gang and here for Grandmaster Flash.
Sunday, 6 July 2014
There's nothing humble about Grillstock, however, with the delicious smell of cooked meat and sticky sauces wafting over the city from 11 in the morning and well on into the night. Given the UK's current obsession with food from across the pond (have you seen how many hot dog and burger restaurants there are springing up in the city centre?), it will come as no surprise that the festival is popular and it's the perfect opportunity to taste test as many different ways of eating pork, beef and chicken as you can in a short space of time. It might be wise to skip breakfast and avoid bread and beer for a while once you get there though, otherwise you'll find yourself struck down by the one thing that all foodies fear – a full belly.
Saturday, 5 July 2014
Sometimes when you look up at the sky you get a glimpse of infinity, a notion of being a speck of nothingness out in the black night of the universe. Faced with this we try to fight it, try to do something that will write our name in eternity, never to be forgotten. We seek meaning and significance away from the comfort and security of home. It is this very human urge that is the subject of Icarus, a new play from Square Peg Theatre. Even the most misanthropic and solipsistic among us would surely not wish to say goodbye to everything and everyone forever. But that is the proposition facing Anna (played by Katie Robinson) as she prepares to leave for Mars, part of a one-way mission to establish the first colony there. Her journey is reality TV meets Apollo 13, with the launch funded by the sale of television rights and the crew’s every move (and mishap) broadcast back to earth for all to see. Tensions mount, intimacies build up and break apart, while the existential crisis of facing infinity lurks ominously in every shadow.
Monday, 30 June 2014
Friday, 27 June 2014
Looking at the electronic music on the bill, Beat Herder favourite Vieka and avant-garde drumming animal Paddy Steer both join the fun, while on the bigger soundsystems they have Dub Smugglers, Dub Phizix & Strategy, unreal Stockport DJ Mr Scruff and a live set for Herbal Sessions and Gnod cohort Raikes Parade. Add to the list a full band show for hip hop wordsmith Skittles and reggae stalwarts Nucleus Roots and it’s a sizeable Manchester contingent.
Wednesday, 25 June 2014
A fortnight ago we found ourselves under the Victoria railway line arches in our wellies, gazing down a chute into the depths of a mill where freshly poured malts were filtering through the first stage of Marble Beers' brewing system.
Here's Joe demonstrating.
We were still digesting an earlier brewery tour courtesy of Matthew Howgate, the Head Brewer here who has been captaining a sturdy ship since taking the position at the start of this year.
This has included increased production of the core Marble beers, including Lagonda IPA, Manchester Bitter and Pint, along with less frequent, more selective specials.
Our brewing expert and guide for the day is Slav (above), whose work behind the bar at the nearby Marble Arch pub has led to a successful transition to become a respected brewer within the company.
Also working on the Marble team was Johnny (above), who originally applied to a part-time bartending advert and subsequently became a Marble van driver, taking the finished ales to several pubs and bars both near and far. He is now embarking on a traineeship to become a brewer himself and is due to take his exams next May.
As the natural starch in the malts was converted to sugars in 66°C brewing water in the first tank, our ale was still a distant pipe dream. 50 minutes later and with a malty mash now formed, we had the basis of our future alcohol.
But after the sugary liquid has flowed from that tank to the copper kettle, the addition of hops started to offer the scent of our end product. We used Herkules, Simcoe, Riwaka and Columbus.
While all these ingredients are brewing, Slav checked a sample of the yeast under the microscope ahead its inclusion at the final stage.
The used malts were cleaned out of the first tank and deposited into barrels to be taken to a local farm and fed to cows, which apparently follow the sweet scent of the barrels in the delivery van on its arrival. I climbed inside the tank to finish the cleaning process.
Once this process has been completed, the all important final stage begins. As the nascent beer lowers to the correct temperature, it was migrated to its brewing container.
Yeast is added along with oxygen to stimulate the yeast.
Last but not least, we can have a taste of the final mixture with its week of brewing ahead.
The limited edition 3.7% pale ale brewed with oats and five hop varieties will be on rotation in pubs across Manchester from Friday 27 June. Look out for the pump clip above.
Words & photos: Ian Pennington
Tuesday, 10 June 2014
Picture the scene: 1950s London, a backstreet abortion clinic, an actor in a sailor's suit and a woman giving birth to a particularly hairy baby... It certainly doesn't sound like the start of any ordinary piece of theatre, does it? It is, in fact, the beginning of He Had Hairy Hands, the first original production to come from acting company Kill The Beast, previously known for its adaptation of Tom Baker's The Boy Who Kicked Pigs, which received rave reviews.