The Lost Carnival – Review

Step inside this imaginative and wonderful world


Over 100 years ago, this darkly strange circus disappeared, only to reappear last month in all it’s weirdly compelling glory in Burrs Country Park in Bury.

I can only assume that during the intervening century they’ve been spinning though the galaxy in a huge intergalactic big top, rubbing shoulders with Red Dwarf and the Tardis!


The Lost Carnival image credit credit Brett Harkness


The Lost Carnival is an immersive, spectacular experience that invites you to step into a world unlike any other.

From 22nd – 25th May 2015, The Lost Carnival treated visitors to a magical extravaganza. There were mermaids, a strong man, mind reader, ring master, acrobats and bearded lady to name but a few.

As we transitioned through the big top into the imagination of organisers Wild Rumpus (who are also behind The Just So Festival), we discovered that our mission was to collectively generate energy on an hourly basis. Thankfully no static bikes were involved in the making of this show – instead the aim was to harness the power of communal singing!




When we emerged from the big top into the carnival there was plenty to keep us busy. Mask making, mermaid chatting, the fabulous band Rum Buffalo and a banquet of street food meant that the time just flew by.

The programme of live music, acrobatics, dancing ladies and swinging balls meant that there was always something going on, without feeling over faced.

Our four year old daughter particularly loved getting dressed up – face painted like Pierrot she looked adorable. I on the other hand looked more like a cross between Heath Ledger’s Joker and Kizz! I got some interesting looks on the M60!

She also loved chatting with the mermaids (“They weren’t real though mummy, I could see their feet”), playing games with the strong man, the music and just the overall spectacle.




Us grown ups loved all of the above – plus Ginger’s Comfort Emporium’s mint and fennel ice cream, which was spectacular!

We were blessed with great weather which contributed to a fantastic event which we thoroughly enjoyed. And although our tickets were complementary, I would have happily paid the £10 ticket price and felt like I’d got good value for money. Under 3′s go free.

My only query would be about the timing of The Lost Carnival. Starting at 4.00pm and running through until 9.30pm, it didn’t quite work for us. As a family event and with a 4 year old we’d have preferred it to start earlier. When I asked the organisers for the rational, their answer was:

“We like being outside on warm summers evenings, we like the transition from daytime through dusk to dark and staying up beyond bedtimes, not sticking to the routines and the excitement that brings with it.  

“I appreciate it’s not for everyone but we find it works for us and hopefully for those who can’t manage to hang on until the end we hope they’ve had a really exciting and brilliant experience before they have to call it a day”.

Coming at the end of term, with a tired little girl we didn’t manage to make it to the end. Hopefully next year will be a different kettle of fish. We can’t wait to see where and when The Lost Carnival lands next year.

For more information about The Lost Carnival visit


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Brett Harkness

Disclosure: Although our tickets were free, this does not ensure a positive review. We did genuinely love the event and look forward to it’s return.




Review – The Ghost Train

Brilliantly funny, the audience loved it – at The Royal Exchange


four stars


It’s a strong 4/5 for The Ghost Train. Our theatre reviewer Lorna loved it – in her view it’s definitely going to be a popular one!


Over to you Lorna ……

Lorna McBride


Ghost Train is a frightfully funny affair!

On a dark and stormy night in the 1920s a group of strangers find themselves stranded at a railway station in the middle of nowhere.

And a beastly night at the station it turns out to be too, when they find out there’s not a train until 7am the next morning.


Station Master Saul Hodgkin, brilliantly played by Amanda Hadingue, is in a hurry to get going himself – because come 11pm strange and supernatural things start to occur.




Saul tells the group of a rail disaster that happened years before – seared into local folklore, where the stationmaster before him dropped down dead at that very station from the shock of it all, his lamp still lit in his hand.

For newlyweds Peggy and Charles Murdock it isn’t how they imagined starting their honeymoon – stranded with strangers! Strangers which include bickering couple the Winthrop’s, know it all cad about town Teddie Deakin and Mrs Bourne, the eccentric parrot-wielding spinster.


THE GHOST TRAIN Royal Exchange until 20 June. Photo Jonathan Keenan


Paranoia quickly sets in as the group quickly start to believe old Saul’s tale was true. Cue a rip-roaring night of hysterical – hysteria that will have you laughing and checking over your shoulder in equal measure.

The staging and sound is brilliantly done and Told By An Idiot theatre company certainly excelled at bringing the play to life in the round. The whole cast are strong throughout, although a special mention should go to Javier Marzan, who puts in an excellently comedic performance as the character of Mrs Bourne.


Calum Finlay as Teddie Deakin in THE GHOST TRAIN by Arnold Ridley - Royal Exchange Theatre until 20 June. Photo Jonathan Keenan (3)


Amanda Hadingue as Julia Price in THE GHOST TRAIN by Arnold Ridley Royal Exchange until 20 June. Photo Jonathan Keenan


And another top tit bit – Ghost Train was originally written by Arnold Ridley, aka Priavte Charles Godfrey of Dad’s Army fame.

Jump aboard and don’t miss what is set to be one of the best shows at the Royal Exchange this year!

The Ghost Train runs from 14th May – 20th June 2015. For more information and to book tickets click here.


Lorna x


Photographs: Jonathan Keenan for The Royal Exchange






The Lost Carnival is coming

We talk to organiser and Director of Wild Rumpus, Sarah Bird


I’ve been a fan of the Just So Festival for quite some time now, so when I heard that it’s little sister The Lost Carnival was coming to Burrs Country Park (Bury, 22/23/24/25 May 2015) I gave an enormous squeal!

We spoke to Sarah Bird, Co-Director of Wild Rumpus, the company behind these family festivals which can only be described as imagination explosions, to find out just how it all began. Sarah is pictured below (left) with Co-Director and friend Rowan Hoban.



Wild Rumpus


Standing on the verge of The Lost Carnival – taking place in Bury over the bank holiday weekend – it’s quite something to think that the partnership that has become so important to mine and Rowan’s lives only came into being  a few short years ago.

As we wander round the Burrs Country Park site where the event is all set to take place, telling the story of a once great carnival which strangely and mysteriously disappeared in 1915, and filled with incredible acrobatics, Balkan gypsy music,  mechanical contraptions and astounding sideshows – our initial playground conversations seem a lifetime ago.


lost carnival billboard


School mums and book groups


Our kids were at the same school, we were in the same book club, occasionally had lunch with the same group of mums, but we didn’t know each other that well when we decided to team up and set up a weekend camping arts festival for families.

It went something along the lines of:

Sarah ‘I’ve had an idea for a festival, where it’s all about families, playing, singing, dancing and creating together’

Rowan ‘Come on then, let’s do it.’

Sarah ‘Really?’

Rowan ‘Really. Here, I’ve already set up the website!’

Sarah  ‘Really? That was quick!’


Wild Rumpus


Wild Rumpus


The perfect mix of cautious and ambitious


We were incredibly naïve but also (it turned out later) the perfect mix of cautious and ambitious, practical and creative.

Our first venture, the Just So Festival, began small and has since become an annual extravaganza attracting thousands of families into the wild spaces of their dreams.




Lost Carnival


Lost Carnival


It wasn’t long before we took the big leap of faith that all such adventures seem to require, giving up our day jobs as bookshop manager and science co-ordinator at MMU. Our lives became ever more intertwined, running a marathon together, if only to allow us more time to hatch up our plans.


Never let your imagination get the better of you


If nothing else I’d say the lesson of our partnership is that you should never feel afraid to let your imagination get the better of you.

One of the things we said to the audience at the very first festival was that it would be what they made it, they needed to bring their singing voices, their dancing feet, their stories and their capacity for wonder. We wanted them to feel like it was their festival and from the get go they wowed us, they dressed up, they played, climbed, sang and danced their socks off.


Pendulum 1


The Lost Carnival


We are saying the same thing again with The Lost Carnival. Yes, we’ve worked our hardest and dreamed our wildest dreams in order to provide something special for them to turn up and enjoy, the real excitement, though, is the prospect that they will not only just turn up, but will do so determined to fully enter the extraordinary spirit of the event.

The Lost Carnival will appear in Burrs Country Park in Bury on the evenings of 22/23/24/25 May 2015. The carnival will be open from 4-9pm, with the audience entering on timed tickets.

Tickets cost £10 per person (under 3s go free). Carnival goers should dress for the weather, and wear sturdy shoes. Tickets are available at

See what else Wild Rumpus are planning including details of the 2015  Just So Festival and an incredible opportunity to release your inner wild thing at the Whitworth in Manchester in June


Competition time




We’ve got a family ticket to give away for The Lost Carnival, for the evening of Friday 22nd May for two adults and as many kids as you have (that are yours!). The event runs from 4pm – 9pm.


The Lost Carnival


All we want to know is if you ran away to join the circus, what would you be and why?

Pop it in the comments box below – but only one comment per person please.

Will it be Lion Tamer, Trapeze Artist or something different altogether.

So don’t be shy – tell us what you’d be?

Good luck!


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Wild Rumpus


By taking part in this competition you are agreeing to 4Manchester Womens Terms & Conditions for competitions and prize draws.


Competition closing date: 9pm Sunday 17th May 2015.

The winner will be the first name selected at random from all respondents. No purchase necessary. No cash alternative. The Editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Closing date is 9pm Sunday 17th May 2015. The winner will be notified immediately. Only one entry per person. UK entries only. No automated entries. Supporting ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions, loquax and  Competitions Time. If you are the lucky winner, your contact details will be forwarded to the providers of the prize, strictly for the purpose of fulfilling the prize and not for any other purpose.
Please note: Should you be notified as the winner, and you do not respond within 24 hours of our notification, we reserve the right to re-draw the winner.











The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Review – Children’s Touring Partnership at The Lowry


three stars


Our theatre reviewer Lorna expected to be in floods of tears, but none of the characters quite got her there.


Over to you Lorna ……

Lorna McBride


Brought to the stage for the first time, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a Second World War tale of an unlikely friendship between two young boys.

Bruno, the son of a German Commandant finds himself and his family uprooted from Berlin to Poland for his father’s job promotion and desperately missing his ‘three best friends for life’.


In search of adventure and someone to play with, Bruno comes across a high barbed wire fence and on the other side of it, a boy his own age but much thinner and smaller called Shmuel.


Boy in the striped pyjamas


Shmuel tells Bruno there are hundreds more people on his side of the fence, all wearing scruffy blue and white ‘pyjamas’ just like him.

He tells Bruno how he was forced to leave his home and brought here with his family – ‘just like what happened to me’, Bruno remarks.

Bruno sneaks away from his house to see Shmuel as often as he can, and starts taking Smmuel food as he always seems hungry. In his naivety Bruno wishes he could be on that side of the fence too and have people to play with.


Boy in the striped pyjamas


With over 6 million Jewish and up to 5 million more minority groups killed during the Holocaust, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas should serve to bring a human aspect to those unimaginable statistics as it narrows in on the individual stories of Bruno and Shmuel as their friendship forms.

The staging is minimal and should also serve to let the powerful story break through.

However, sadly this adaptation does not seem to illicit the emotional response I expected it to, as it is difficult to empathise with any of the characters, even Shmuel.  It seems to scratch the surface but no character truly grips you – even my hatred for the Commandant was minimal as isn’t portrayed as dark or imposing enough.


Boy in the striped pyjamas


The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, while a fictional novel, is a Key Stage 3 level school text for 11 – 14 year olds. Difficult as it must be to portray anything Holocaust related on stage and for a young audience to fully understand the horrors of the genocide, it is none the less important that there should be an accessible starting point. I just think this adaptation seems to be more on the safe side rather than provoking what may sometimes be challenging but none the less important questions of humanity and morality.

For more information about this production of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, click here.

Lorna x 


Photographs: The Lowry




Rebecca at The Lowry

Review – amongst the best we’ve seen


5 stars


Our theatre reviewer Lorna absolutely loved this production of Rebecca at The Lowry, giving it our top five star rating!


Over to you Lorna ……

Lorna McBride


Daphne Du Maurier’s bestselling 1938 novel Rebecca is brought to life in all it’s wicked jealousy by Kneehigh Theatre Company.

The evocative staging brings to life Manderley, the looming estate by the sea which is home to Maxim de Winter and his young new wife Mrs de Winter II.



Penned by Du Maurier as ‘a study of jealousy’ Rebecca explores what it is like to be a second wife living in the shadow of first – all the more difficult given that the memory of the first Mrs DW is not easily forgotten, especially by the sinisterly devoted housekeeper Mrs Danvers.


Rebecca at The Lowry

Rebecca at The Lowry


Young, meek and inexperienced, seemingly the polar opposite to the vivacious and carefree original Lady of the Manor, wife number two struggles to see how she can live up to a life of running an estate and managing an army of staff.

She is soon to discover that not all is what it seems and that Rebecca’s shadow cannot loom over her indefinitely.

The play encapsulates both darkness and humour in just the right balance, with the comedic butler’s assistant Robert (excellently played by Katy Owen) sure to be a firm favourite with audiences.

While director Emma Rice’s vision for Mrs de Winter (Imogen Sage) to be portrayed as more than just the one dimensional victim/wife to a man/ female is achieved with stark clarity.


Rebecca at The Lowry

Rebecca at The Lowry


The sound and staging alone makes the play worth going to see. A challenging and brilliant set visibly energises the cast. While the musical accompaniments will have me humming twisted, dark sea shanties while dancing the Charleston for days to come.

If you love the novel you’ll love the play. If you’ve enjoyed the Hitchcock film version of Rebecca – and you’re not my boyfriend – then this is definitely one to see!


Rebecca runs from 7th – 11th April 2015. For more information and to book tickets, click here.



Lorna x


Photographs: The Lowry via Flickr









Cirque Surreal The Voyagers

Review – Circus theatre that didn’t quite hang together at The Lowry


three stars


After a short break, our regular theatre reviewer Lorna is back – and this time it’s to review a performance that’s all tied up in knots!


Over to you Lorna ……

Lorna McBride


Cirque Surreal The Voyagers is described as a dynamic fusion of circus, dance, drama and comedy.

Leading performance artistes from over 10 countries have come together for the first time in this internationally acclaimed production, which follows the modern fable of five Voyagers travelling through space and time under powerful mystical lunar influences beyond their control.


While the artists and performers are undoubtedly fantastic in their own right, the show didn’t feel like it hung together well and it was very much like watching separate acts in a variety show.


Cirque Surreal


The concept of immigration and integration which started and ended the show felt very much like misplaced bookends rather than a comprehensive narrative woven throughout.

Having said that the show is geared for a primarily family audience and the children in the audience loved the comedy of the clowns and the daring elements of the other acts in equal measure.


Cirque Surreal


The aerial acts and acrobats were amazing and had me on the edge of my seat. It would be unfair to say that I was not impressed by the individual performers themselves, however having seen various circus performances elsewhere I feel that the performers were let down by the overall weakness of the ‘voyager’ concept, which just didn’t come through strongly enough.

Part of my issue may have been that I think that this type of artistry works best in settings other than a theatre with the stage at the front, as the more angles you can see the more you feel involved and amazed. While a more traditional Big Top setting is never fully in the round, the extra degrees it allows the audience, all add to the experience of appreciating how incredible the performers are at what they do.

I would recommend seeing Cirque Surreal if you have children and they’ve not seen anything similar before as an introduction to circus theatre.


Cirque Surreal runs from 2nd – 6th April. For more information and to book tickets, click here.


Lorna x


Photographs: The Lowry


Review – Anna Karenina

A bit confused – at The Royal Exchange


three stars


I can’t confess to having waded through Tolstoy’s 900+ page monster.


But I have read Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. It took me a year, which I think shows that I’m not one to give up on something lightly.

The same Dostoyevsky declared Anna Karenina to be “flawless as a work of art” and even now it’s often described as the greatest novel ever written.

I had huge hopes for this adaptation by Jo Clifford of Anna Karenina, but unfortunately for me and several others with me on press night, it just didn’t quite manage to pull it off.

I was hoping to be as spell bound as I was by The Royal Exchange’s production of Orlando last year which was magical from it’s acting (Suranne Jones), costumes and staging to it’s music and dance. But I was left feeling a little bit sad and confused at such a missed opportunity.



Anna Karenina at The Royal Exchange



Even if you haven’t leafed through Tolstoy’s tome, most will know that it’s the story of Anna (Ony Uhiara), young wife, aristocrat and socialite who embarks on a passionate and scandalous affair with Count Vronsky (Robert Gilbert) which sees Anna shunned by Russian society. Consumed by paranoia she sees no alternative but to fling herself under a train.


Anna Karenina at Royal Exchange



Tolstoy’s face has been described as the face of every Russian at a time when there was great social unrest and revolution in the air. I was hoping for a production with a deep, dark heart which was as perfect and complex as a blood red rose, with beautiful sumptuous and imaginative costumes at juxtaposition with the earth of mother Russia.

Sadly I just didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel the heat between the two main characters, whose contemporary dance routine left me feeling a bit uncomfortable. And while habitual worrier Levin (John Cummins), philandering Oblonsky (Ryan Early) and rigid government official Karenin (Jonathan Keeble) all provided comedic light relief which was well received, it left me confused as to just what this play was.

Confusion compounded by the fact that the cast play multiple characters, and that I suspect the performance is laced with oodles of symbolism that went over my head.


Anna Karenina at Royal Exchange


Having said that I did enjoy Gillian Saker as Levin’s wife Katy, whose story is the reverse of Anna Karenina’s, from heartbroken girl destroyed by Count Vronsky to dutiful and respectable wife living in the country. And that of young Anna – who whilst only on stage for only a moment, shone brightly.

It’s a tough call to distill such a massive work into a two hour play. I did really want to love it, but it just wasn’t for me.

Anna Karenina runs at The Royal Exchange from 19th March – 2nd May 2015.

For more information and to book tickets click here.


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Jonathan Keenan for The Royal Exchange









Manchester International Festival

MIF15 launches an exciting programe of familiar faces and new commissions (2nd – 19th July 2015)


While the Manchester International Festival has been on my radar, I’ve never really engaged with it, assuming that it was for those with better groomed beards.

And I’ve always found out about things way too late – only to discover that the tickets have all gone. Not that I’ve known many names in the programme. I’ve smiled and nodded and then had to go away and Google, feeling like a most uncultured numpty.

All of which have conspired to make me believe that the Manchester International Festival was intimidating and not for people like me.


MIF15 launch


So this year I bit the bullet and got myself on the guest list for the 2015 programme launch event.


Ten years old and counting


However, just as I finally make it to the party, Alex Poots, the festival’s founding CEO and artistic director announces his move to a new role in New York.

Although he says that he leaves our city with a heavy heart, he’s leaving an incredible legacy – an internationally renowned festival which brings art lovers from right around the world to Manchester.

It’s a festival which will soon find a new home in the newly announced multi-million pound  Factory which is due to be built on the Old Granada Studios site.

Running thought the programme, it’s full of exciting new collaborations which push the boundaries to their extremes.

With the lights dimmed and ambient tunes turned up, the anticipation was palpable. By the end of the presentation I was sold!



There is something for everyone in the MIF15 programme, and my advice is would be – if you don’t recognise some of the names, just go with it anyway, try something different and trust that Alex Poots has found something spectacular.

Across a range of Manchester venues, in an attempt to counter criticism that the festival is elitist, it’s allocated 10% of tickets to low waged people (under £14,000) with a Manchester postcode. Performances from Mancunians also weave through their way through many of the commissioned pieces. is a new musical inspired by Alice in Wonderland, adapted to modern day. Poots was looking for a project which would lure back festival favourite Damon Albarn, which was both English and eccentric, but which would translate internationally.

A collaboration with The National Theatre and with War Horse’s set designer, this new musical is a modern story of a modern family with an  internet addiction to the computer game While all the usual characters will be there – some will live in the real world, while others will lie in the audio visual world within cyber space.


Albarn describes it as an “electro musical”. It sounds amazing! will be performed at The Palance Theatre (29th June – 12th July)

To find out more and to book tickets click here



High Tea in Wonderland


Continuing the ‘Alice’ theme, acclaimed chef Mary-Ellen McTague will create a magical food event behind the scenes at Manchester Museum.


High tea in wonderland


High Tea in Wonderland can be found at Manchester Museum on Sundays 5th,12th and 19th July.

To find out more and to book tickets click here



The Skriker at The Royal Exchange


Festival and Manchester theatre royalty, Maxine Peake and Sarah Frankcom will be bringing The Skriker to the Royal Exchange. This play, which was last seen in the UK 20 years ago centres around a shape shifting fairy which hovers between fairytale and nightmare. Described as the earth’s last cry, it promises to be a production which makes enormous demands on it’s performers and on it’s audience.


Skriker MIF15.

The Skriker will be performed at The Royal Exchange (1st – 18th July)

To find out more and to book tickets click here



Björk one-off gig at Castlefield


Björk is coming back to the festival to preview her new album in a spectacular gig at the Castlefield Arena (8,000 capacity).



The concert is on Sunday 5th July.

For more information and to book tickets, click here



Tree of Codes – new contemporary ballet


A new ballet by acclaimed choreographer Wayne McGregor has been commissioned for the festival – with a kicking sound track by producer and remix artist Jamie XX. Soloists and dances from The Paris Opera Ballet (arguably the best in the world) will perform alongside Wayne’s own dance company and will feature Marie-Agnès Gillot ….. the French Darcey Bussell.

Tree of Codes will be performed at The Opera House (2nd – 10th July)

For more information and to book tickets, click here



Arvo Pärt and Gerhard Richter collaboration


Acclaimed visual artist Gerhard Richter and Arvo Pärt (the most performed living composer in the world) have made work inspired by and dedicated to each other.

Several years in the planning, these works will be united for the first time at The Whitworth art gallery (five paintings and choral music) and accompanied by an evening of Pärt’s music performed by Manchester Camerata at The Bridgewater Hall.

The Whitworth (9th – 19th July). For more information (free event) click here

Manchester Camerata at The Bridgewater Hall (12th July). For more information and to book tickets click here



The Tale of Mr Tumble


Families and children will be treated to The Tale of Mr Tumble at Manchester’s Opera House. It’s hoped that this new production will spark a life long love of theatre in children.

Following a long tradition of vaudeville performers (think Charlie Chaplin), CBeebies’ Justin Fletcher will be introducing us to many new members of his family. The show will also feature 400 Manchester children (including those with special educational needs) in a massive Makaton / sign language choir.


Mr Tumble

The Tale of Mr Tumble will be performed at Manchester’s Opera House (11th – 19th July).

For more information and to book tickets, click here



Ed Atkins – Performance Capture


Manchester Art Gallery will host three rooms dedicated to computer-generated moving image work. Performers from the festival will don motion action suits which will collectively be distilled into one avatar, thus documenting the festival in an extremely innovative way.

This is a free performance at Manchester Art Gallery (4th – 19th July). For more information, click here


The Immortal by Mark Simpson


Prepare to be spooked! Mark Simpson is one of Britain’s brightest young composers, winning both BBC Young Musician and Young Composer of the Year.

The Immortal, which will be performed at The Bridgewater Hall by the BBC Philharmonic, explores obsession with death inspired by notes from 19th century seanses. The programme, which will be the premier of his first large scale commission, will be completed by Mozart’s Requiem.

The Immortal will be performed at The Bridgewater Hall (4th July). For more information and to book tickets, click here



Neck of the Woods


Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon and celebrated pianist Hélène Grimaud will create a portrait of a wolf in a collision of visual art, music and threatre at new arts centre HOME – with words provided by Charlotte Rampling.


Neck of Woods


For more information and to book tickets (10th – 18th July), click here



Mercury Prize winner FKA twigs


FKA twigs will be making her MIF debut with a residency at Old Granada Studios, making seven short films over the week, with audiences invited to observe the process.


FKA twigs


For more information and to book tickets (9th – 15th July), click here



FlexN Manchester


Flying in from Brooklyn especially for the festival launch, Reggie ‘Roc’ Gray and three of FlexN dancers certainly made a statement. If you are FlexN you’ll be bone breaking, pausing, flexing and generally leaving your audience wondering how on earth a body can make shapes that just don’t seem normal. It was breath taking!




Ten dancers from Manchester will visit the FlexN team in Brooklyn to share styles and ideas – bringing them back to Old Granada Studios for a very special performance for the Manchester International Festival.

For more information and to book tickets (11th – 12th July), click here



The Age of Starlight


Festival Director Alex Poots described this as his riskiest ever commission as the piece of technology at the heart of it is still in the process of being created. The Age of Starlight will be a world first show about the origin of the universe, bought to life by incredible new cinematic technology. This 21st century planetarium will use glasses which bring CGI images into your field of vision.

The collaborative team includes Prof Brian Cox – the project will be announced and presented at this year’s festival with a full premier of the finished article in 2016.

Google are apparently investing gazillions into this technology which is predicted to eventually find itself on over 1 billion mobile hand sets.

You saw it here first!




For more information, click here



Festival Square in Albert Square


There will be 18 days of free entertainment in Albert Square. 125,000 people visited last year from all walks of life. There will be a BBC studio on site, music, DJ’s, Heathcotes restaurant and a variety of street food.

If you’ve got a comedy itch that needs scratching, then Festival Square is also the place to head with a full programme of fun and frivolity including late night cabarets and a comedy reworking of Dostoyevsky’s The Crocodile!


Festival Square MIF


For more information, a full programme and to book tickets click here



Club Culture


Traditional show closer – Yellow, will once again be rocking Festival Square with Hacienda DJ Dave Haslam and guests (18th July). For more information and to book tickets click here

However, for it’s 10th anniversary and to close the show this year, there will be two nights of clubbing at Mayfield Depot with the Warehouse project (17th -18th July). For more information and to book tickets, click here


So it’s something for everyone, with both familiar and new faces bringing some really exciting collaborations to Manchester – consolidating our fine city as a major international arts hub.


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Alison Staples, MIF






Manchester Theatre Awards 2015

Nominations announced


Manchester has delivered some amazing theatre over the past 12 months. The best of the best will be revealed on Friday the 13th March at the Royal Northern College of Music.

There are nominations in 20 categories, with the winners being chosen by a panel of 11 of the region’s leading theatre critics.


Nominations for the MTA awards include


Best Actor

Rob Edwards – Duet for One and Separation, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton
Michael Hugo – Around the World in 80 Days, at the Royal Exchange
Harry McEntire – Billy Liar, at the Royal Exchange
Dan Parr – Britannia Waves the Rules, at the Royal Exchange
Michael Shelford – Early One Morning, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton


Best Actress

Clare Foster – Duet for One and Separation, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton
Natalie Grady – Hobson’s Choice, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton
Suranne Jones – Orlando, at the Royal Exchange
Maxine Peake – Hamlet, at the Royal Exchange
Lauren Samuels – Love Story, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton


Orlando, Suranne Jones


Best Actor in a Supporting Role

David Birrell – Journey’s End, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton
Colin Connor – Early One Morning, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton
Daragh O’Malley – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, at the Royal Exchange
Michael Shelford – Hobson’s Choice, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton
Nuno Silva – Little Shop of Horrors, at the Royal Exchange


Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Claire Benedict – Hamlet, at the Royal Exchange
Gillian Bevan – Hamlet, at the Royal Exchange
Molly Gromadzki – Orlando, at the Royal Exchange
Katie Moore – Billy Liar, at the Royal Exchange


Best Actor in a Visiting Production

Joshua Jenkins – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, at The Lowry
Robert Lindsay – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, at the Opera House
Cassidy Little – The Two Worlds of Charlie F, at the Opera House
Steven Miller – Shakespeare’s Othello, at The Lowry
Antony Sher – Henry IV Parts I and II, at The Lowry
Al Weaver – The Pride, at the Opera House


Best Actress in a Visiting Production

Jane Asher – Moon Tiger, at The Lowry
Emily Butterfield – An August Bank Holiday Lark, at Oldham Coliseum
Lisa Dwan – Not I, Footfalls and Rockaby, at The Lowry
Katherine Kingsley – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, at the Opera House
Emma Williams – Annie Get Your Gun, at the Opera House


Best Production

Angel Meadow, at Edinburgh Castle, Ancoats
Around the World in 80 Days, at the Royal Exchange
Close the Coalhouse Door, at Oldham Coliseum
Journey’s End, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton
Romeo and Juliet, at Victoria Baths
Separation, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton


Best Musical

20th Century Boy, at the Opera House
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, at the Opera House
Jersey Boys, at the Palace Theatre
Little Shop of Horrors, at the Royal Exchange
Love Story, at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton


Gunnar Cauthery as Seymour Krelborn in LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (Royal Exchange Theatre until 31 January 2015). Photo - Jonathan Keenan


We’ve been lucky enough to review quite a few of these – and our big thumbs up go to Orlando and Little Shop of Horrors!


Good luck to all the nominees and well done Manchester for excelling once again.


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Jonathan Keenan for The Royal Exchange


Family friendly Jan-Feb 2015

On the look out for family fun


Family Friendly


Read on to find out about the exciting family events for January and February, bought to us by our friends at Family Friendly North West.


Free family activities at IWM North


Grandmother & Grandaughter


IWM North, The Quays, Manchester

Every Saturday and Sunday throughout January 2015

FREE entry, all ages

Discover this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day theme Keeping The Memory Alive by decorating a fabric square with your favourite memory, to add to IWM North’s patchwork Memories quilt.

Join in with storytelling every weekend at:

10.30am: Hear about a group of shapes who learn to get along despite their differences.


1.30pm: Meet Nancy and hear her tales of life in the Land Army in the Second World War. Learn about her wartime experiences away from home and making new friends, especially with a timid horse called Rufus.

For more information please visit


The Tiger Who Came To Tea


The Tiger Who Came To Tea


The Lowry, Salford

Friday 23rd & Saturday 24th January 2015

Tickets: £15.00

Suitable for ages 3+

The doorbell rings just as Sophie and her mummy are sitting down to tea. Who could it possibly be?

Following a smash-hit West End season, the tea-guzzling tiger is back on the road in this delightful family show, packed with oodles of magic, sing-a-long songs and clumsy chaos!


A stunning stage adaptation of Judith Kerr’s much loved picture book. This is the classic tale of teatime mayhem!


For more information and to book visit

or call 0843 208 6000


Siberia Big Saturday at Manchester Museum




Manchester Museum, Oxford Rd

Saturday 24th January 2015, 11am – 4pm

Drop-in, FREE*, suitable for all ages

Visit the Museum’s Siberia: At the Edge of the World exhibition.


Discover more about the culture and unique nature of this vast, mysterious land; one and a half times bigger than Europe. Enjoy activities for all the family, from traditional music and arts to a guided tour of the exhibition. Meet curators and see objects from the Museum’s stores.

If you can’t wait until the Museum opens at 10am, you can come along to the Museum’s Early Opening for Early Birds – enjoy self-led tours of the Siberia: At the Edge of the World exhibition, object handling and craft activities. (Just the temporary exhibition will be open at 9am – you can explore the rest of the Museum from 10am).

Suitable for families with children under 5s and their older siblings.

For more information visit


I Believe in Unicorns


I belive in unicorns


The Lowry, Salford

Thursday 19th – Sunday 22nd February 2015

Tickets: £15.00

Captivating theatre this half-term!

Tomas didn’t like books or stories. Stories were just for “Little Snotties”.

He was happier clambering in the mountains like a goat or tobogganing with his Dad. That was until the Unicorn Lady came to town and reeled him in with her irresistible magic tales.


But then disaster struck and put everything that mattered most in Tomas’s life in terrible danger….I Believe in Unicorns is a spellbinding and moving story by one of our greatest storytellers.

For more information and to book visit

or call 0843 208 6000


The Cat In The Hat


The Cat In The Hat


Palace Theatre, Oxford Road, Manchester

Tuesday 7th – Wednesday 8th April 2015

Tickets: £11.90 – £13.90

Suitable for ages 3+

From the moment his tall, red and white striped hat appears around the door, Sally and her brother know that The Cat in the Hat is the funniest, most mischievous cat they have ever met.


With the trickiest of tricks and craziest of ideas, he turns a rainy afternoon into an amazing adventure. But what will mum find when she gets home?

Based on the much loved book by Dr Seuss, The Cat in the Hat is a lively and engaging first theatre experience for young children aged 3+.

For more information and to book visit or call 0844 871 3019


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)




  • A A A