top of page
  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke





Skylight Circus Arts present ‘Sparrow Hill’ - A Circus Show

Review by Steve Cooke

 “Sparrow Hill”, was Skylight’s most ambitious new circus show to date, and a roaring success!

The iconic Parish Church of St Chad was transformed into a circus venue echoing times gone by with an exhilarating medieval feel.

For the past 6 months, Skylight’s large cast of community and professional performers have researched the histories and mysteries of Skylight’s home on Sparrow Hill to co-create this wonderful, uplifting, magical circus show.

From the myth of the moving stones to famous artists, the odd hedgehog and even a giant pop-up book, they took us on a thrilling journey through 1000 years of local history in a stunning setting.

The audience were delighted and inspired by a vast range of performers from 8 to 88 years old! Of all shapes, sizes and abilities, a truly inclusive troupe.

Up in the air and on the ground, Sparrow Hill stories were brought to life through spectacularly awe-inspiring circus skills.

Martine Bradford, Creative Director was central to the cohesiveness and inclusivity of Sparrow Hill, performing while ensuring that even the most challenged of participants were able to put on a great show.

Produced by Skylight Circus Arts, Director Gil Burns, Associate Director Grania Pickard, Music composed and recorded by Steven Broomhead, Design by Kerrith Ogden, Technical & Stage Management -University of Salford Technical Theatre Students.

With Special guests - live music superbly performed by award winning local young musicians ‘Chords and Fiddles’

Huge thanks and congratulations to all involved.


Northanger Abbey – Octagon Bolton

Review by Hilary Dawes

Written by Zoe Cooper and directed by Tessa Walker, this production is a playful and surprising re-imagining of Jane Austen’s popular novel Northanger Abbey. 

Catherine Morland knows little of the world, but her vivid imagination enables her to envisage one of romance and excitement through the gothic novels she devours.   She longs to escape from her family and drab northern town and mingle with the smart set at parties and balls. 

After the comic depiction of Catherine’s birth, and witnessing her progression into womanhood, we find Catherine, at 17 years old, invited to spend time in Bath with her aunt and uncle, the Allens, and her wish for balls and parties begins to be fulfilled.  At one such gathering she meets Isabella, (Iz).  A closeness develops between them and whilst Jane Austen’s heroine delights in finding a new best friend with whom to share a love of novels, clothes etc, Zoe Cooper shows us a developing attachment, turning to implicit sexual attraction, although only a kiss is seen here.  

The action moves at an energetic pace, going in many directions, which is sometimes hard to follow and, whilst the play is a re-imagining of the Austen novel, it might be helpful to already have an idea of the original plot.  A talented cast of just three actors manage to portray every character, often at astonishing speed.  Whilst Rebecca Banatvala sticks mainly to the role of wide-eyed ingénue Catherine Morland, AK Golding, as the attractive and worldly-wise Iz, also gives credible performances of Catherine’s pipe-smoking and harrumphing father, her uncle Mr Allen and General Tilney.  Sam Newton plays Henry Tilney and Iz’s unsavoury brother John Thorpe and gives a hilarious portrayal of Mrs Morland enacting Catherine’s difficult birth, as well as playing the aspirational Mrs Allen and Henry’s sister Ellie, a role he clearly relishes, in a pink dress, creepy haircut and air of menace, completely living up to Catherine’s gothic expectations of Northanger Abbey! 

Designer Hannah Sibai’s minimal set uses very few props, with piled up trunks serving as carriages, a table doubling as a bed, and Catherine’s wonder at the sight of Northanger Abbey being witnessed as a model of the abbey is produced from a trunk.  A magnificent moving chandelier evokes the grand décor and atmosphere of the Bath venues. 




Sunday 24 March 2024


An award-winning extravaganza that plays tribute to one of the leading contemporary recording artists of our time.

Katy Ellis is a self-confessed ‘Swiftie’ with an incredible live band and dancers and promises to deliver the most authentic recreation of a Taylor Swift show you will ever see.

The show has already taken Swift fans across the world by storm and features all of Taylor’s much loved hits including Shake It Off, Blank Space, Love Story, You Belong With Me, Look What You Made Me Do, I Knew You Were Trouble and many, many more.

Tickets from £20

Phone: Middleton Arena 0300 303 8633 


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


Tuesday 26 March 2024

Rochdale & District Camera Club

Tonight is practical lighting and flash/LED.

We meet every Tuesday at 8pm at Syke Methodist Church Hall.

You are more than welcome to come down to one of our club nights to see if you would enjoy joining the club.

Phone: Pete Williams 07967 969136


Syke Methodist Church Hall, Syke Road, Rochdale OL12 9TF


Tuesday 26 March 2024

Middleton Arts and Crafts Group

A social, friendly and informal arts and crafts group with a focus on wellbeing.

This group meet weekly on a Tuesday.

All people over the age of 18 are welcome.


Phone: Tom Ratcliffe 01706 392210

12pm - 3pm

Middleton Library, Long Street, Middleton M24 6DU


Wednesday 27 March 2024

Rochdale Photographic Society

Tonight's session - annual competition DPI.

We meet every Wednesday at Rochdale Unitarian Church, starting at 7.30pm prompt (doors open from 7.15pm). The door is kept locked so please ring the bell on arrival.

If you would like to see the club for yourself and meet our members, you are welcome to attend as our guest for up to 3 weeks before committing to membership. Annual subscription is £36 for single or £46 for joint membership.

A weekly room fee of £2.50 is also payable on arrival at the meeting. Refreshments are 50p.

£2.50 for room fee

Doors open 7.15pm, 7.30pm start

Rochdale Unitarian Church, Clover Street, Rochdale OL12 6TP


Wednesday 27 March 2024

Toad Lane Concerts - Rochdale's Weekly Music at Lunchtime

This week we have Music from Tonacliffe Primary School. Directed by Freda Farnworth.

The concert series has been held at St Mary’s since 2001 and was granted the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2020… during the pandemic!

Running every Wednesday, Music at Lunchtime is a weekly live classical music concert series that has been going since the 1960s. The sessions were initially run at the old Rochdale Art Gallery by the local authority, but since May 2001 have been run by volunteer-enthusiasts and artistic director, Dr Joe Dawson.


Phone: Dr Joe Dawson 01706 648872

Doors open 12noon, concert starts 12.30pm - 1.30pm

St Mary in the Baum, Toad Lane/St Mary's Gate, Rochdale OL16 1DZ




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


298 views0 comments


bottom of page