Preview: Refract Festival, Waterside Arts, Manchester

Adam Lowe

Curated by Waterside Arts, Refract is an exciting festival of work that takes place in and around Sale in Trafford. It has a carefully crafted programme, jilted from convention, for audiences of all ages.

Back with a bang this July with the fourth edition, Refract:21 brings the opportunity to experience things differently at Waterside. Running from Thursday 22 July to Saturday 31 July, this ten day event promises the very best in live comedy, music, dance, experiential performance and theatre.

As well as a raft of events for all ages, the festival is also proud to boast a number of LGBT+ acts and performances. Check out the details below.

LAUGH RIOT: COMEDY NIGHT
Fri 23 Jul 20:00
£15 / £8 Low income

Bringing you the very best in alternative comedy this triple headliner comedy night features Tony Law, Amy Vreeke, Jonny Pelham, and MC Jonathan Mayor.

Jonathan Mayor
Jonathan Mayor sets the stage alight with his razor sharp audience banter and stunning charisma. But don’t be fooled by the glitter and glamour, underneath lies an intelligent line of socio-political humour, from a unique and fascinating perspective.

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Age 18+ | 120 minutes, including interval

In the Cabaret Club

THE COCOA BUTTER CLUB
Sat 24 Jul 20:00
£12 | £8

The award winning cabaret, that celebrates performers of colour, will be back in town, this July.

Following their (quite phenomenal) full house Manchester debut in 2019, we’re promised a serving so generous, we’ll be smelling of Cocoa Butter for days!

It’s a spirited soiree, so expect burlesque, live music, erotic poetry, comedy, drag, dance and more, all wrapped in your favourite Neo-Soul, RnB, Jazz, Motown and Blues sounds.

This one’s for you! It’s been a tough year; so trust the trailblazers of decolonising and moisturising cabaret to be a part of your super summer. We have so much to make up for!

Age 16+ | 90 mins incl interval

In the Cabaret Club

DUSTY LIMITS & MICHAEL ROULSTON
Fri 30 Jul 19:00
£14 / £12
Double bill with Jonny Woo’s All Star Late Night Cabaret £24 / £20

Dusty Limits is a singer, actor, writer, director and compere and one of the UK’s top cabaret performers, described by Time Out London as ‘The Trailblazer’ of contemporary cabaret.

Michael Roulston is a singer, composer and musical director who has worked with some of the biggest names on the scene, including David Hoyle, Meow Meow and Dillie Keane.

Together they have been writing original songs for over 15 years and this show is a celebration of that musical friendship. The songs are by turns scathingly satirical, melancholy and bawdily hilarious. Fans of Fascinating Aida, The Tiger Lillies or The Divine Comedy should attend.

Age 16+ | 60 mins, no interval

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In the Cabaret Club

JONNY WOO’S ALL STAR LATE NIGHT CABARET
Fri 30 Jul 21:00
£14 / £12
Double bill with Dusty Limits & Michael Roulston £24 / £20
Jonny Woo + Richard Thomas + Sooz Kempner + Kevin Davies

Jonny launches back into life post-lockdown with all his singing buddies in this very musical, silly, stunning and a little bit naughty cabaret.

Woo brings stars from his hit Brexit Musical show; Olivier award-winner Richard Thomas (composer & lyricist Jerry Springer The Opera) on piano; the amazing stand-up and singer Sooz Kempner, now notorious on social media for her impressions of Christina Aguilera; and Kevin Davies who delivers immaculate harmonies and silly takes on musical theatre classics.

Expect a repertoire of Woo / Thomas original songs, twisted cabaret standards, raucous sing-alongs and wild lip-syncs from Jonny that invariably end with him taking his kit off. It’s a sequin-soaked, star spangled spectacular to help us all launch back into living life to the hilt.

Age 16+ | 90 mins plus interval

In the Cabaret Club

Waterside Arts, Waterside Plaza, Sale M33 7ZF / refract.org.uk / watersidearts.org

About Adam Lowe

Adam Lowe is an award-winning author, editor and publisher from Leeds, now based in Manchester. He runs Dog Horn Publishing and is Director and Writing Coordinator for Young Enigma, a writer development programme for LGBT young people.