top of page
  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


Previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke

PREVIEW of Sarah Kane’s iconic and defiant Crave running beneath Manchester’s independent theatrical arches.

Following the demise of Oldham Coliseum Theatre, Artistic Director Chris Lawson will be returning to the rehearsal room this spring to direct Sarah Kane’s Crave at Manchester’s 52two, presented by HER Productions.

Premiered in 1998 at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, the heart-rending play’s poetic nature transformed writer Sarah Kane’s critical reputation. A lyrical and non-linear style favours emotional truth over clear storytelling and evokes the sensation of a mind reeling from trauma, love, craving, hope, and hopelessness.

In a damaged world, four characters search for the light… “Here I am, once again, here I am, in the darkness, once again.”

Crave is presented in Manchester by HER Productions, directed by Chris Lawson, marking a return to the rehearsal room amidst the heart-breaking closure of Oldham’s historic theatre company.

Hannah Ellis Ryan, founder of HER Productions, said: “We are so proud to be presenting Sarah Kane's iconic work at 53two in 2023; a time where we feel our world is ready to grieve, reconnect and heal from the global pandemic.”

Director Chris Lawson added: “It’s been an incredibly difficult couple of years for everyone, and especially painful for us in Oldham over the past few months. Whilst I’m still fighting for theatre in Oldham and supporting our team as we face redundancy together and begin to clear our building, directing Crave is medicinal. I believe whole-heartedly in the power of theatre to make us confront our emotions and begin to heal, and I’m really looking forward to getting back to what I love – making theatre.”

Writer Sarah Kane is known for works that deal with themes of redemptive love, sexual desire, pain, and torture; her early work was marked for its use of extreme and violent stage action. In contrast, Crave is characterised by a purely poetic intensity and openness to creative theatrical interpretation.

‘Angry, funny, defiant, kind and cruel, Crave is a deeply personal meditation on the meaning of love.’

Crave runs at 53two from Wednesday 31 May – Sunday 4 June 2023

To run beneath Manchester’s independent theatrical arches 31 May – 4 June 2023 at 53two

HER Productions

HER is a female-led theatre company, founded by Hannah Ellis Ryan. The company stage regular new writing showcasing female writers and annual Shakespeares at Hope Mill Theatre in Ancoats.


Chris Lawson, Director

Chris, Oldham Coliseum Theatre’s Artistic Director and Chief Executive and a proud Trustee of ThickSkin Theatre.

Chris joined Oldham Coliseum from London’s Almeida Theatre as Associate Director in 2015. He became the Coliseum’s Artistic Director in 2018 and additionally Chief Executive in December 2022.

At the Coliseum, Chris has directed acclaimed productions including Maxine Peake’s Beryl, James Fritz’s Four Minutes Twelve Seconds, Martin McDonagh’s A Skull in Connemara, Tom Wells’ The Kitchen Sink and Jumpers For Goalposts and pantomimes: Jack and the Beanstalk, Aladdin, and Robin Hood. Chris also directed Christopher Eccleston and Maxine Peak in excerpts from Dave Johns’ stage adaptation of I, Daniel Blake in a script in hand performance for the Coliseum’s closing event Encore on 31 March 2023.

His most recent production outside of Oldham was the international tour of Gypsy Queen by Rob Ward (Emmerson and Ward Productions).

Alongside directing, Chris has overseen Coliseum co-productions with Queens Theatre Hornchurch, Hull Truck, York Theatre Royal and Salisbury Playhouse, launched a number of initiatives and opportunities for theatre makers including the Main House Takeover, Cultivate Festival and the Associate Artists program, developed a number of partnerships with universities and Drama Schools including Rose Bruford, and led the Coliseum’s innovative digital output during the pandemic, including a co-commission with HOME, a series of Micro Commissions and interactive online production Whodunnit at the Coliseum?


53two was grown from acting school Manchester Actors' Platform, MAP, which was established to provide affordable, professional services for actors. In 2016 the team transformed two arches of the old Bauer Millet Garage, Albion St into two of the most exciting spaces in Manchester for new theatre productions, events, and private parties and 53two was born. 53two’s aims are to provide affordable professional services and performances for EVERYONE with a fully accessible space.

Now based just 50 yards away, beneath Manchester Central Convention Centre, in 150-year-old Grade II* listed arches, 53two is a brand new, fully accessible hideaway for creatives. Its gentle gradient throughout, lowered bar, disabled toilet, modular, removable table system and more, mean that the space isn't just adapted for people with a disability, it's just the norm that every part of it is accessible for all.


PREVIEW of TLC [Toad Lane Concerts]

An update on the upcoming feast of concerts by top class performers at Toad Lane Concerts, St Mary in the Baum. Beginning with a sensational set of song recitals; then a classical guitarist, complete with the Rodrigo Concerto; a first-class choral ensemble and an international violinist. Tell the world and take a friend!

Apr 26 Margaret Ferguson soprano (Ghana, Poland & RNCM), Jonathan Ellis piano (RNCM & Manchester University)

May 03 Richard Haslam guitar (Hull University & RNCM), George Strickland piano (Leeds University & RNCM) partnering the Rodrigo Concerto

May 10 The Nightingale Singers, conductor Ken Greaves accompanist J Edward Rigg

May 17 Dimitra Ananiadou violin (Univ of Greece, York, and Manchester), Richard Whalley piano (Universities of York and Harvard)


Thursday 20 April - Chaand Raat

The traditional night before Eid when you can all get together, get your henna done, buy last minute gifts and food items.

Join Castlemere Banqueting Hall and support the local stallholders: Food, Tombola, Desserts, Henna, Clothing, Toys, Charity Information Stall and much more.

For stall bookings please call 07837 828754 or pop into the hall and speak to Zareena.


Phone: Tasneem 07837828754

4pm until late

Castlemere Banqueting Hall, 8 Castlemere Street, Rochdale OL11 3SW.

Saturday 22 April - One Night in Dublin

One Night In Dublin is coming to Middleton with one glorious night of high-energy Irish Music and more than a little bit of Irish Craic!

The multi award-winning Irish tribute band The Wild Murphys features the very best traditional Irish musicians playing a thrilling mix of traditional and contemporary tunes guaranteed to get your hands clapping and toes tapping all night long.

The seven-piece live band is headed by lead singer Middi Murphy armed with blarney, banter, and an accordion, alongside Trevor Brewis (Jimmy Nail) on drums, Tony Davis (Prelude) on keys and the BBC award-winning fiddle player Sophy Ball on fiddle.

In their own inimitable style, The Wild Murphys celebrate Irish classics with tracks including Galway Girl, Tell Me Ma, Dirty Old Town, The Irish Rover, Brown Eyed Girl, Seven Drunken Nights, Sally MacLennane, When You Were Sweet Sixteen, Whiskey in the Jar, Wild Rover and Molly Malone, to name just a few.

So, kick back in Murphy’s Pub, sing along and imagine yourself back in Temple Bar as Middi and his band entertain you all night long – “Ah, go on, go on, go on!"

Tickets from £22

Phone: Middleton Arena 0300 303 8633 



Middleton Arena, LCpl Joel Halliwell VC Way, Middleton M24 1AG

Saturday 22 April - Rochdale Music Society concert: Patrick Hemmerlé

Rochdale Music society presents Patrick Hemmerlé on the piano.

Bach: Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland

Bach: Fantasia BWV 906

Chopin: 12 Etudes opus 25

Albeniz: Iberia, Book I

Liszt: Venezia e Napoli

Rochdale Music Society has been providing the best in live music played by great artists for the people of the borough of Rochdale and beyond since 1980.

Adults £15, Over 65s £13, Students £5, Children £1

A booking fee of 5% will be charged on all bookings other than those made in person.

Phone 0300 303 8633



Heywood Civic Centre, LCpl Stephen Shaw MC Way, Heywood OL10 1LW

Saturday 22 April - Reflecting on Queer Feminisms and Modernism

Sarah-Joy Ford and Veronica Slater will discuss the history queer art, starting with the work of Gluck, whose painting, The Devil’s Alter, 1932, will be included in the exhibition. Sarah-Joy Ford is an artist working with textiles to exploring queer communities and lesbian histories. Veronica Slater is an artist; she participated in the exhibition Along the Lines of Resistance at Rochdale Art Gallery in 1989.

Part of the events programme for current exhibition A Tall Order! – Rochdale Art Gallery in the 1980s.




Touchstones Gallery Rochdale, The Esplanade, Rochdale OL16 1AQ

AATA celebrating creative arts and artists - an oasis of positivity supporting individual and community wellbeing.

8 views0 comments


bottom of page