Skip to main content Skip to footer site map


A snapshot of class divide that doubles as a melancholic love letter to the city.

Review: A MANCHESTER ANTHEM, VAULT Festival And on the sixth day, God created Manchester. The iconic mosaic in the Northern Quarter has become emblematic. It's proudly displayed among loud synths and a vibrant nightlife in Nick Dawkins' precise social commentary that doubles as a melancholic love letter to the city. Tommy has been accepted into Oxford to study law. The first in his family to go to university, but also the first on his street.

We observe him on his last Saturday before he moves south to join the same people he's despised all along. His mum leaves him loving notes between shifts as a nurse; his brother's drug problem looms large on his perception of the world; and he doesn't like to talk about his dad. Directed by Charlie Norburn, A Manchester Anthem is infused with music and bad dancing, a snapshot of a class divide as deep as the pockets of Tommy's circumstantial posh mates.

An endearing, profound delivery by Tom Claxton introduces a deeply good young man whose struggles have centred around an undervalued society. A scholarship to a private school gave him an excellent education that carried him to Oxford, but he is now faced with leaving everything and everyone he loves behind to follow his rich classmates.

Claxton fights back the seemingly inevitable upspeak that comes from direct address, but Dawkins' deadpan backhanded comedy is effective and energises the text. He owns the space with limber command, toying with the tone of the script with the natural ease of a promising actor.

Anna Niamh Gorman sets the scene with Manchester's distinctive features on cardboard boxes in a well-executed exercise in visual minimalism. We're constantly reminded that Tommy's destiny is to leave.

The rumbles of Waterloo Station don't really suit the depth of the production, so the silences and contemplative sobriety of certain points get lost but will resonate better on a quieter stage. The fact that it remains a striking project that transcends its location is a testament to the company. We'll hear of this creative team for years to come.

A Manchester Anthem runs at VAULT Festival until 3 February.

Review: ASTORIA, Jack Studio Theatre Photo
Tony Britten's play is funny and moving if, at times, tricky to follow

Kerry Ellis Releases New Single Battlefield, featuring Sir Brian May Photo
The supremely talented Kerry Ellis has released Battlefield, the first single taken from her upcoming album Kings & Queens, out on 12 May. Featuring the legendary Sir Brian May on guitar, the track is available to stream and download now, while the album can be pre-ordered via Westway Music.

Samantha Womack, Michael Praed, Faye Tozer, Les Dennis and Nicole-Lily Baisden Will Lead 4 Photo
​​​​​​​Samantha Womack will star as Dorothy Brock, alongside Michael Praed as Julian Marsh, Faye Tozer as Maggie Jones, Les Dennis as Bert Barry and Nicole-Lily Baisden as Peggy Sawyer in the UK tour of 42nd STREET.

Special Spring Offer on NEWSIES at Troubadour Wembley Park Photo
Disney’s Newsies, the sensational family musical with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman and book by Harvey Fierstein is now playing at London’s Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre for a limited season.

From This Author - Cindy Marcolina

Italian export. Member of the Critics' Circle (Drama). Also a script reader and huge supporter of new work. Twitter: @Cindy_Marcolina

... (read more about this author)

Review: BERLUSCONI - A NEW MUSICAL, Southwark Playhouse ElephantReview: BERLUSCONI - A NEW MUSICAL, Southwark Playhouse Elephant
March 30, 2023

Silvio Berlusconi. Il Cavaliere, the knight. Entrepreneur, television mogul, right-wing leader. Famous for his scandals, fraudulent deals, chummy attitudes with despots and other questionable figures. Cruise ship singer. Laughing stock and controversial political powerhouse. Does he deserve a musical that glamorises his exploits and explains his side of history even though we’ve heard nothing but? He doesn’t, but you can leave it to the English to try and fail to spin a tale of power misuse and faded grandeur into a feminist elegy. The award-winning producing team behind Fleabag want to paint the Italian tycoon from the eyes of the women he abused. Written by Ricky Simmonds and Simon Vaughan from an original idea by Alan Hayling, it’s unnecessary and so lacking in politics that you come out of it having learnt very little about the protagonist except that he gets away with it.

Review: GONE TOO FAR!, Theatre Royal Stratford EastReview: GONE TOO FAR!, Theatre Royal Stratford East
March 29, 2023

Set on a housing estate in South London, the piece sees two brothers being sent out to the shops by their mother. Yemi was born and raised in England while Ikudayisi has just moved from Nigeria. The cultural clash is striking and, while the text has been slightly modernised with coups like the addition of face masks, 15 years are a long time and the racial discourse has somewhat become more sophisticated since then.

Review: MARJORIE PRIME, Menier Chocolate FactoryReview: MARJORIE PRIME, Menier Chocolate Factory
March 26, 2023

Jordan Harrison’s 2015 Pulitzer Prize finalist is a reflection on mortality that doesn’t dare to go into the depths of the matter. It ends up being rather stagnant philosophically and anthropologically, but Dominic Dromgoole’s latest production is a delicate take. Running at 85 minutes on paper but around 70 in reality, the piece’s greatly sophisticated performances and sleek look save it from its redundant nature.

Review: WASTED, Lyric HammersmithReview: WASTED, Lyric Hammersmith
March 25, 2023

Running at around 50 minutes, it’s snappy and positively Gen-Z in pace and subject. Fernandes crafts a script that wanders from deliciously colloquial to slightly expository, but remains solid throughout.

Review: CONTEMPT, VAULT FestivalReview: CONTEMPT, VAULT Festival
March 19, 2023

While the writing is gripping and Gabrielle Nellis-Pain’s performance is excellent, there’s something missing. Catherine’s colleagues are ancient ghosts through the hallowed corridors as she puts on a sleazy, raspy voice to portray them against her well-spoken main character.