Yesterday saw more debuts from the Manchester international festival, including Punchdrunk's Doctor Who show and an opera by Damon Albarn
The Manchester international festival is hitting its stride now, with a tranche of new work unveiled yesterday. Punchdrunk's kids-only show The Crash of the Elysium, a collaboration with the makers of Doctor Who, opened its doors in the afternoon. Mark Brown went along and loved it, saying "there are scares but there are good scares." You can read his report here.
Then at the Palace Theatre, Damon Albarn's opera Dr Dee debuted to an audience including Alex James, Paul Simonon (bassists of Blur and The Good, The Bad and the Queen respectively), New Order's Bernard Sumner and Blur drummer Dave Rowntree. The beginning saw a raven fly from the balcony onto the stage - very impressive. Albarn was onstage throughout, singing the opening and closing songs, but more often hovering over the action on a platform high above the stage. Albert Hickling greatly enjoyed the piece, giving it a four-star review. We also posted a video yesterday in which Albarn talks us through the concept.
Incidentally, Damon Albarn was at breakfast at the Guardian's hotel this morning grinning from ear to ear and surrounded by adoring women of various ages. Lucky him, eh?
In other news, Dave Simpson went to see Sinéad O'Connor at the Pavilion theatre, in the course of which she apparently had some choice words to say about Hugh Hefner. He'll be writing about the show soon. Andrew Dickson attended a special promenade performance by Alina Ibragimova and the Quay Brothers at Chetham's School of Music, in the last remaining medieval bit of Manchester. Art critic Adrian Searle and I went to the Whitworth art gallery yesterday lunchtime to see a show of film projects commissioned by Artangel by artists including Catherine Yass and Francis Alÿs. There's also an unmissable piece by Atom Egoyan called Steenbeckett, based around a John Hurt performance of Krapp's Last Tape. There's been one work made especially for Mif: 1395 Days Without Red by Šejla Kameric and Anri Sala, which restages the dangerous journeys the citizens of Sarajevo had to make under sniper attack, simply in trying to go about their business during the Balkan conflict. Adrian Searle will review it soon.
Thanks very much for all your Mif tweets and comments. cholo81 said of Björk, who played on Thursday night and plays again tomorrow, "Not always a fan of Mif but they really have the goods with this show - superb. Björk resembled a Tamarin monkey with the hair but boy that monkey can sing!"
matthirty5 is looking forward to Wu-Lyf, who will be closing off the tunnel on Great Bridgewater Street for their gig in a fortnight's time. He's also "really excited for Audio Obscura as well" , a piece of sound art in Piccadilly Station which is opening as I type.
Over on Twitter, @sebemina of Artangel has a picture of the first night of artist Tony Oursler's installation The Influence Machine. Back at Dr Dee, @squidETC says: "Dr Dee - Amazing, Synaesthetic. Albarn's constant stage presence almost too 'drama teacher during dress rehearsal' - tad distracting. Meanwhile, @t4rdis says: "Dr Dee delves into what it means to be English. It's not an 'easy' piece by any means, but it's beautifully and skilfully staged."
Please keep tweeting and commenting, and also don't forget to upload any pictures to our Mif Flickr group.
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