Lionman (Footlights theatre, GM Fringe 2018)

Fringe theatre is, by its very nature, meant to challenge its audience. Lionman, from Dapertutto, at the Footlights theatre, Media City is certainly that.


Starring Tom Hardman as Leonard and Cameron Jones as pretty much everyone else, this is a piece of physical theatre the likes of which you probably don’t see often enough outside of fringe.

From the surreal outset, we follow Leonard as he attempts to complete his screen play, fall in love with the woman upstairs, fight the man in the flat below and all the while there is so little dialogue, you are drawn ever closer to the edge of your seat to see just how Hardman manages these feats of physical theatre.

The use of multimedia is brilliant. From the opening mashup to the awards ceremony, the technical aspects of the show could easily detract from whats going on elsewhere on stage, but its a credit to technician Leon Hardman and sound designer Kris W Laudrum that they add to the actors presence, and don’t overpower the piece.

The lighting is subtly muted, and the staging for such a physical piece works wonders. Sometimes less truly is more. I have no idea how long the performers have rehearsed this, but they hit every mark and made it seem so easy.


Footlights, Lionman, GM Fringe


It may be a cliche, but this really was a work that made you stop and wonder at times.

The scene where Leonard and the neighbour rewind after a lengthy fight is so well done, that both actors deserved an ovation just for that.

Hardman must come off stage every night both physically and mentally drained! How he’s managed an entire week of shows is a testament to his skills as an actor.

There are dream sequences, which Leonard thinks are real, an awards ceremony that actually IS real and an off stage love interest who has no idea our hero even exists.

Even Casablanca gets a look in.

I went into this only having the preview on the GM Fringe website, so had very little as to what to expect.

I came away from the show filled with admiration for the lead, and the whole crew that they could so easily draw an audience into the world of Leonard so fully and with such aplomb as to leave me feeling as breathless as the performers must have been as they took their bows.

In the end, our hero appears to overcome everything that stands in his way, but at what cost?


Lionman runs for the next two nights at Footlights theatre, Kansas Avenue, Media City, Salford.

4*/5 Easily a must see piece of work from a promising new company.


How do you promote a sport full of power and passion?

By not bothering to show any of the sport itself according to the new RFL Super League 2018 launch video.

Recently, the RFL marketing department have managed to get a couple of things spot on. The new OuRLeague app is fantastic. Superb content, really engaging and easy to use. During the World Cup it became the go to app for info on England and what the players were up to.

Then we get the 2018 launch video…

We know that professional rugby league players are supremely fit. We also know that the Brownlee brothers are superb athletes as well.

What we dont see is any reason for watching the sport when the season starts in just over a week.

Where are the big hits, the jinking runs through defences, the offloads and the magic? Apparently, the public dont need to see the skill of the players, but images of them running up and down in the snow tell you all you need to know about the lack of imagination shown by the RFL marketing department.

The RFL have some superb staff, but marketing needs a shake up.

Why advertise along the M62?

You’re playing into the hands of those who look down their noses at the sport and call it parochial!

Advertise along the M6 and the M1. It’s a summer sport, entice people heading to Bridlington, Scarborough, Blackpool and the Lake district to take in a game, not those who already know where games are played.

What does this video tell anyone who accidentally happens upon it about the game these athletes play?


I appreciate that there is an air of change at Red Hall and Media City with Nigel Wood leaving, but if we allow the game to continue to stagnate at every level, which is what we are in danger of doing if we don’t look for a candidate for his position from outside of the sport, we are in danger of the sport as a whole dying.

Thats not just my view, but one given to me by one of the most respected writers on the sport. As it was a private conversation, I’m not going to name him here, but it shows just how far those who write about the sport feel the game and it’s leadership have sunk.

Indeed, he felt that by the time of the 2025 World Cup, the UK version of the game may well be entirely amateur.

REVIEW: The Marriage of Kim K.

As someone not overly well versed with the comings and goings of the Kardashian family, We sent Andrew Riley to 53Two to see the culture clash between reality TV and opera…

I will admit to not knowing a great deal about reality TV, but I do enjoy a good opera, so was pleased to find this on the Greater Manchester fringe.

Written by  Leoe & Hyde – a northern musical-duo who live and work together in central Manchester, Leoe Mercer and Stephen Hyde have really got an underground fringe hit on their hands if the audience reaction is to be believed.

Based around Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro”, this show brings together the queen of reality TV during her 72 day marriage to basketball star Kris Humphries, a married couple who fall out over wanting to watch reality TV or opera and the central figures in the Mozart opera.

All three couples occupy the small stage at 53two at various times, and although there were some initial sound problems, once they were cleared up and we could hear the cast over the wonderful string quartet Echo Chamber, the fun really began.

The cast of "The Marriage of Kim K"

The cast of “The Marriage of Kim K”

Anyone who has ever argued over the remote control will sympathise with both Stephen and Amelia. In the end, we get a TV rota, then two TV’s, a break up or three, and all accompanied by a wonderfully eclectic mix of live music.

Every single player on the stage is possessed of a superb voice, and although there is very little in the way of dialogue, it is the blending of the voices that really marks this as such a complete piece of work.

It would be all too easy for a voice to become “lost” in the mix, but initial problems aside, in this production, it really works.

Overall, this is a very polished production, in one of the more unusual spaces in the city centre, it being a former Bauer Millett showroom.

Its the subtle things, like Stephen switching the subtitles on for the opera and the move from the original into English that marks out just how well crafted this work is, and why it deserves to go from fringe to mainstream.

The production heads north to Edinburgh for August, and is at Greater Manchester Fringe as part of a two month UK wide tour.

Overall, I’d give it a 7 out of 10 rating, and look forward to seeing more of Leoe&Hyde productions in the coming years. for more information, and for tickets head to