Manchester Theatre Awards

> Independent informed reviews by the region’s most experienced critics

News: Actress in a Visiting Production

The Royal Shakespeare Company and Chichester Festival Theatre visited the Opera House with Love’s Labour’s Lost. Modern audiences don’t always appreciate the Bard’s speeches here but this cast rose to the challenge. The venue is “modernised” to an Edwardian stately where Lisa Dillon captured the essence of a French royal lady-in-waiting valiantly coping with the seemingly eccentric English toffs.

Also at the Opera House, but what a contrast – Lisa Maxwell took on the punishing role of Judy Garland to The End of the Rainbow. Despite Garland’s demanding personality Maxwell imbued an aura of childlike neediness and her singing voice certainly matches the legendary power of a great entertainer.

The Palace brought a sizzling production of Mary Poppins with Zizi Strallen in the lead. Zizi is the beating heart of the show transforming from her mysterious nanny arrival to a broomful of mischievous fun singing , dancing and joyously flying off under her famous brolly to the upper circle – not a role for vertigo sufferers!

The Irish have an hereditary gift of holding an audience spellbound. Aoife Duffin lived up to the promise at The Lowry as she took on the multi-roles of A Girl is a Half-formed Thing the moving story of a young Irish lass, unwanted, and abused.  Aoife revealed an eye-watering talent adopting every character, changing voice and  body language, often mid-sentence.

Diana Stenson
17 March 2017