Reviewed today: The Best Of The Mark Thomas Comedy Product, Too Much Information?, Warren Ellis.
Reviewed today: Black Box: Interconnections, Pauline's Song Swap-O-Rama, Polly Barton & Eley Williams.
Reviewed today: Faceless, Songs From Scotland, A Young Man Dressed As A Gorilla Dressed As An Old Man Sits Rocking In A Rocking Chair For 56 Minutes And Then Leaves 13.
Reviewed today: Shortcuts - Views From The Four Nations.
Reviewed today: Funny Place For A Window, Stories In The Stone, Trevor Lock: Community Circle, A Toast To The People: Inua Ellams & Saul Williams, Your Tomorrow.
Reviewed today: Archie Brennan: Tapestry Goes Pop!, Black Country New Road, Gerald Finley & Julius Drake, No More Jockeys, Peter Buckley Hill And Some Comedians XXI, Two Cents Worth Of Hope.
Reviewed today: The Deer King, Jeanette Winterson, Ray Harryhausen: Titan Of Cinema, The Unthanks.
Reviewed today: Best Of Scottish Comedy, Mad God.
It all seemed so cut and dried two years ago. Edinburgh in 2019, Edinburgh in 2020, somewhere else in 2021, back in Edinburgh again 2022. Two years on, one year off, you know how we roll here when it comes to attending the greatest arts festival in the chuffing world.
But let's be honest, we weren't expecting any of the stuff that's happened since then. Least of all that I'd be back in Edinburgh in 2021 with four programmes' worth of events to consider.
In previous Manchester International Festivals – look, just go back to part one of this piece and follow the links in there, I can’t be bothered typing them again – anyway, back then the hub of the event was Festival Square. For the other 102 weeks of the bi-year it was Albert Square, the big public space in front of the town hall. But at MIF time, it became a riot of food stalls, bars and tented stages offering mostly free entertainment.
This year was always going to be different, and not just for the obvious reason. Manchester Town Hall is in the middle of a massive refurbishment programme, meaning that Albert Square is closed off. So for 2021 (and probably 2023), Festival Square has relocated to the space outside Manchester Cathedral. It’s still offering booze, food and entertainment, but this time round entry has to be carefully controlled, with all visitors carefully spaced out into meticulously organised bubbles.
They would have managed it, too, if it hadn’t been for the inhabitants of Twat Island.