Manchester has never been short of options for theatre aficionados. Whether it’s HOME’s cutting edge contemporary arts, reinventions of the classics at The Lowry and The Royal Exchange, or song and dance at The Palace, there’s always something for everyone. Our top five Manchester theatre shows for the first half of 2018 include the RSC’s latest reimagining of Hamlet starring Paapa Essiedu, a double-bill of Maxine Peake at The Royal Exchange, and a queer cabaret courtesy of Dancing Bear at The Palace. Here’s our round up of the best theatre shows the city has to offer in the coming months:

1. Award-winning contemporary drama at HOME
Opening at the beginning of March, Circle Mirror Transformation is a touching and humorous piece written by Annie Baker and directed by Bijan Sheibani. Baker is considered one of the most talented playwrights to emerge in recent years and Circle Mirror Transformation won the 2010 Obie Award for Best New Play. Now bought to HOME’s stage by Sheibani, it explores the relationships between five strangers in Vermont as they take a creative drama class for adults.
Fri 2 – Fri 16 Mar, HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester, M15 4FN. Tel: 0161 200 1500, times and prices vary,

2. Hamlet refreshed by the Royal Shakespeare Company at The Lowry
The Royal Shakespeare Company is bringing Hamlet to the Lowry after a successful run in Stratford-upon-Avon. Paapa Essiedu who takes up the title role, is said to be riveting and fresh in his approach. Having gained a long list of 4* reviews, this is not one to be missed.
Mon 26 Jan – Sat 3 Feb. The Lyric Theatre, The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford M50 3AZ. Tel: 0843 208 6000, times and prices vary,

3. Maxine Peake double-bill: historical drama and one-woman show at The Royal Exchange
Maxine Peake will be taking to the Royal Exchange stage twice in 2018. Her first gig will be in Samuel Beckett’s one-woman play, Happy Days, before she embarks on her own play, Queens of the Coal Age, which she wrote and stars in. Following four women as they take a stand against the closure of the coal mines in 1993, the play is said to be full of Northern wit and charisma.
Happy Days: Fri 25 May – Sat 23 Jun, Queens of the Coal Age: Thu 28 June to Sat 21 July, Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, M2 7DH. Tel: 0161 833 9833, times and prices vary,

4. Political power play from Juliet Stevenson at The Lowry
Mary Stuart with Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams will open at The Lowry. This follows a critically acclaimed run in the Almeida’s 2016-17 season. Taking place during the 16th century’s political turmoil and exploring the relationship between Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I, Stevenson and Williams explore the two women at the helm of British power. The two stars exchange roles, deciding with the toss of the coin each evening. In doing so, this performance explores the pure chance that may have saved Mary from her execution.
From Tue 17 – Sat 21 Apr, The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford M50 3AZ. Tel: 0843 208 6000, times and prices vary,

5. Queer cabaret with Divina De Campo at Contact
Part of the Queer Contact Festival of 2018, Dancing Bear is a musical exploring the intersection between faith, identity and sexuality. Featuring Divina De Campo, this cabaret styled play is both humorous and heart-breaking. Audio-described and signed performances are also available.
Tue 6 – Wed 7 Feb, The Palace Theatre, 97 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 6FT. Tel: 0844 871 3019, times and prices vary,

For more things to do when it comes to art and culture in Manchester, click here.

Fri 26 Jan - Sat 21 Jul
William Felix Robinson
Published on:
Sun 8 Jul 2018