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Manchester International Festival: Day 9

  • Richard Fair
  • 6 Jul 07, 09:14 AM

It’s like banging your head against a brick wall. Honestly, some people. You rave about something and then they ask you if you really liked it. And marks out of ten? Nine, no ten. Really? OK, eleven or twelve. Look, I really hate marking things out of ten. If I give something top marks then there’s nowhere to go when something better comes along. I gave Monkey: Journey To The West a nine.

Then along comes Dead Wedding and I’m forced into giving it a ten. Don’t get me wrong, it deserves it. Not that it’s any better than Monkey, it’s just amazing for a Waitrose trolley full of other reasons. The puppetry, the story adaptation, the visualisation and the music (more about that in a moment) were all outstanding. But by giving it the perfect ten, I’m left high and dry if something better comes along. So from now on, I’ll not be engaging on a scoring system. If I’m asked to mark out of ten I shall make a mockery of the whole scoring system and respond with something really funny like – “marks out of ten, um, fifteen.” Unless it’s crap then I’ll say something even more funny like - “marks out of ten, um, have you heard the one about the man who sticks his fingers up your nose?”

So anyway, Dead Wedding. It’s a fantastic theatrical adaptation of the Greek Myth telling the story of Orpheus. Putting into words what Faulty Optic did with their wonderful sets and puppets is almost impossible, what I will say is that it was like an opera without words.

Mira Calix’s music provided the perfect canvas for the characters to paint the tragic tale of Orpheus searching for his dead bride in the underworld. What followed was a dark, nightmarish performance with Heath Robinson-like stage props mixed with surreal film and gentle animation. And the music, did I mention the music? Always just enough to set the scene or to submerge us into a fantasy of electronic effects mixed with live music.

I did say on BBC Radio Manchester last night that after Monkey, this is the next ‘must see’ at the Manchester International Festival and I wasn’t kidding. But hurry it’s only here until tomorrow at the Library Theatre.

Johnny Vegas
Are Kevin Bourke from the Manchester Evening News and me the only two people on the planet who ‘got’ the whole Interiors thing? We sat next to each other last night at the Library reliving some of the highlights of Interiors. Kevin was rather amused to learn that the much talked about pan-rack of Mr Vegas’ performance was in fact really his and to add to the irony it was bespoke. Of course you’d need to see the performance to get all of that and can I suggest you ignore all the other reviews and what people may have told you and what you may have seen on the telly and try your hardest to get hold of a ticket.

I met up with Kapital director Greg Hall last night. I don’t think I gave him too hard a time over his film, which I didn’t really enjoy (and I’m not the only one – see Reel Review). I did question his portrayal of Manchester and suggested that he could have filmed the kind of ‘underbelly’ in any town or city and that by suggesting that Manchester was central to the themes was perhaps a tad unfair. To a certain degree he concurred. “I was asked to make it in Manchester for the Festival”. So it’s our own fault.

Sadly those expecting to see Kapital at Zion Art Centre were disappointed and so was Greg. Apparently they had to scrap the screening as the venue had been double-booked. Ooops.

Other blogs
It’s not really part of the Manchester International Festival, but Stephen Newton has been to see the Kylie exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery. “I’ve always thought of Kylie Minogue as the poor person’s Madonna. They share a nasal whine and make disposable pop that’s sometimes quite good and often quite bad.” Read his full review here.

I’m not sure my body could take another night in a theatre or cinema so I’m off to have a look at some of the visual art and installations around Manchester for the Festival. I may even tune in to a bit of Art Radio, the Cornerhouse’s short-term experimentation into alternative radio.

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