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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke



PREVIEW By Steve Cooke

A new production for our times of Arthur Miller’s classic, A View from the Bridge, will open on Friday 8 September at the Octagon Theatre Bolton.

On the Brooklyn waterfront, where the fierce passions of ancestral Sicily linger, the orphaned Catherine falls for her handsome, newly arrived cousin Rodolpho – an illegal migrant. Their romance is encouraged by her aunt Beatrice but stirs complex feelings in her uncle, Eddie Carbone. As tensions rise, their story spins inexorably beyond control.

Acclaimed stage and screen actor, Jonathan Slinger (Hamlet, Macbeth at The RSC, Crave at Chichester Festival Theatre, Charlie, and the Chocolate Factory in the West End) will play the role of Eddie, marking his first time on stage in an Arthur Miller production. He is joined by Nancy Crane (Inside Man BBC, Suspicion Apple TV, Summer & Smoke, Chimerica at the Almeida / West End) who will be the first woman to play the role of Alfieri in a new production that looks at the psychology of the play and its gender politics afresh.

Jonathan Slinger said, “I am thrilled to be working with the highly acclaimed Headlong Theatre and Artistic Director, Holly Race Roughan on what will be my first time taking to the professional stage in a piece by the great Arthur Miller. Being from Lancashire myself, Bolton’s Octagon Theatre is a theatre close to my heart and the ideal venue for us to debut this fascinating new production that examines Arthur Miller’s classic text.”

Nancy Crane added; "Holly’s production is going to be a new perspective on one of Arthur Miller’s best-known plays. I’m excited to be the first woman to play Alfieri and can’t wait to see what it does to the play’s themes of masculinity and toxic masculinity. A modern-day Greek tragedy about love and identity and belonging and revenge, it seems to me incredibly relevant in 2023.”

They are joined by Kirsty Bushell (Richard III at the RSC, Angels in America for Headlong, King Lear at Chichester) as Beatrice, Rachelle Diedericks (The Crucible, Our Generation at the NT/Chichester, Andor for Disney+) as Catherine, Elijah Holloway in his professional stage debut as Louis/Immigration Officer, Luke Newberry (When Winston Went to War with the Wireless at Donmar Warehouse, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Macbeth at The RSC/Barbican) as Rodolpho, Tommy Sim’aan (Vigil, The Tempest at The RSC, Starcrossed at Wilton's Music Hall) as Marco and Lamin Touray (Bouncers UK Tour, Shakespeare in the Squares, Coronation Street) as Mike/Immigration Officer.

The brand-new production will be directed by Headlong Artistic Director Holly Race Roughan. Holly said, “Quite honestly, A View from the Bridge remains one of the most extraordinary plays I have ever read, and it is an honour to be co-producing it alongside some of the country’s most important theatres.”

“Mounting the first major revival in the UK for nearly a decade, I am eager to explore its startlingly relevant themes with today’s audiences: the human price of a country’s immigration policies, ripping into the personal roar of suppressed feelings and the tenderness of romantic love. As with all my work, I am very interested in the thin membrane between the unconscious and the conscious.”

“I am also excited by the play’s brutal and honest exploration of masculinity and how that sits with a modern audience. By casting Alfieri as a woman I hope to illuminate further the presence of the ‘feminine' emotional intelligence in the play, and its offer to help build a new kind of masculinity.”

The full creative team includes Emily Ling Williams - Associate Director, Moi Tran - Set and Costume, Mona Camille - Set and Costume Associate, Max Perryment - Composer and Sound Designer, Keegan Curan - Sound Associate, Alex Fernandes - Lighting Designer, Malik Nashad Sharpe - Movement Director, Aundrea Fudge - Voice and Dialect Coach, Kev McCurdy - Fight Director and Yarit Dor - Intimacy Director.

Friday 8 - Saturday 30 September

Octagon Theatre, Howell Croft South, Bolton BL1 1SB


Phone: 01204 520661

Toad Lane Concerts in July - A month of choral, piano and violin treats - Just what the doctor ordered.

REVIEW By Dr Joe Dawson

July 05: More than Melody Ladies Choir In a week where community singing was highly recommended by the BMA for general wellbeing, here was a living example of what the doctor ordered. Conducted by Jonathan Gibson and accompanied by Brian Milligan they delivered a full and varied programme of song. Their unbounded enthusiasm meant that the audience left humming their favourite numbers feeling healthily entertained.

July 12: Duncan Glenday piano The TLC audience was delighted to welcome back pianist Duncan Glenday. Incidentally, the vintage 1933 Challen grand piano was the one he played as a promising young teenager back at the old Art Gallery’s ‘Music at Lunchtime’ before it moved here to St Mary in the Baum. He subsequently graduated first class from the joint course of the RNCM and Manchester University and returned today as an accomplished recitalist, concerto soloist, chamber musician and teacher with Schumann, Ireland, Maxwell Davies, and Chopin in a typically elegant and moving recital, with lively Granados and Albeniz for good measure.

July 19: Tim Kennedy tenor (Cambridge University & RNCM staff) is a gifted organist and pianist as well as lyric tenor soloist. He was accompanied superbly by international solo pianist John Gough (former RNCM & Chetham’s staff) and examiner (incidentally, a teacher of both Duncan and Jonathan Ellis!).

Their expressive delivery of Classical, Victorian, and popular tenor solos culminated in Golden by Cliff Richard, the pop song transferring to the concert platform well, as substance won over style with these consummate artistes.

July 26: Duncan Reid violin & Jonathan Ellis piano Two popular regular performers at St Mary in the Baum produced a sensational recital that would have graced any festival or concert venue.

Violinist Duncan Reid and pianist Jonathan Ellis have worked closely together at this high level for many years, since studying together on the prestigious ‘double,’ the joint course of the RNCM and Manchester University.

Duncan engages in several ensembles and orchestras, teaches in schools, conducts the Xaverian College Chamber Orchestra. He plays an 1890s violin by Joseph Hel of Paris.

Jonathan continues as a soloist and in chamber music as well as accompanying extensively. He also works for ‘Music in Hospitals’ and ‘Live Music Now’ charities. He made the most of the 1933 Challen grand piano today.

Beethoven’s beautiful Romance Op. 50 in F major and Brahms’ Sonata Op. 100 were beautifully explored and performed with Duncans expressive soaring tone and Jonathan’s supportive and sensitive accompaniments.

Bartok’s sparkling suite of 6 Romanian Dances, full of strident raw folk rhythms and ethereal harmonics made a stunning contrast and demonstrated the range of interpretation of which these fine players are capable.

Jonathan introduced the concluding Spanish Dance by de Falla (pronounced ‘fire’) with an hilarious pun, ‘Goodness gracious, great balls of de Falla’ and it was a scorching performance of which Jerry Lee Lewis would have approved. The final applause was thunderous and well-deserved.

The Queen’s Award-winning Toad Lane Concerts are every Wednesday at 12.30pm at the Grade 1 listed church of St Mary in the Baum, Toad Lane, Rochdale, OL16 1DZ. Entrance fee is £6. No refreshments available now. Contact 01706 648872 for further information.


Aug 09: Voci Voices - Elizabeth Ambrose soprano, Isobel Jenkins mezzo, Eric Cymbir tenor, David Cane bass and Jonathan Ellis piano

Aug 16: Angela Rowley soprano (MD + adjudicator) and Tim Kennedy piano (Cambridge + RNCM staff) [concert number 1050 since taking over from the council)

Aug 23: Lewis Kingsley Peart piano (Trinity and Laban Conservatoire)

Aug 30: ‘Opera for the people’ Nicola Mills soprano (Royal Scottish Conservatoire) Glyndebourne, Dutch, Flemish & Monte Carlo Opera

Sep 06: Isabel Williamson cello and Jonathan Ellis piano (both RNCM and Manchester University)

Sep 13: Anne Butterworth soprano Stephen Taylor baritone and Elaine Marsden piano

Sep 20: Maria King piano (RNCM)


Friday 11 August

Ace Lips Events: Comedy Show at the Old Court Room 11

Another fantastic line up sees some of the very best on the circuit here in Rochdale.

Dean Coughlin

Since starting comedy in 2017, Liverpool comedian Dean has performed all over the UK including Edinburgh, and overseas in Australia and New Zealand.

Harriet Dyer

Harriet is an actor, comedian, and writer.

Sarah Johnston-Hale

Sarah is a borderline comedian on the edge of pure filth. Even though she hasn't actually got a clue where the edge is and has gone so far past the edge she is in a different continent. Joking about her own life and sexuality, she makes her life situation into one big joke.

Alfie Carter

Alfie’s got a good energy level and is an original thinker. Alfie makes everyone sit up and listen during this performance.

Dave Twentyman

Affable, quick-witted banter merchant, Dave Twentyman survived a childhood in St Helens by evolving rapid, startlingly-bright patter and a smile that he somehow stole from Barry Manilow.

Phone: Richard Attwood 07720 849866


Doors 7.45pm, start time 8.30pm

The Old Court Room, The Flying Horse, 37 Packer Street, Rochdale OL16 1NJ

Thursday 10 August - Saturday 12 August

Visit Fireground Museum

Join us at Fireground this week to discover Greater Manchester's firefighting story.

Fire museum attractions are on show inside the museum including our collection of historic firefighting artefacts from the 18th century to present day, plus home-made refreshments in the new Fireground Café, and souvenirs from our fantastic new gift shop! We have a wide choice ranging from toddler to collector.

Under 4s are free, Children (aged 4-15) and Concessions £5, Adults £7, and Family (4 people) £20.

Phone: Fireground 01706 341219


10am - 4pm

Fireground, Maclure Road, Rochdale OL11 1DN

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

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