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Refract festival livens up south-west Manchester

Waterside Arts' fifth Refract festival comes up in late July with a 10-day burst of creative energy in Sale, Manchester. Among the many family and community events is a run of massively varied theatre, dance and cabaret shows.

They include About Time Dance Company's Quite Unfit For Females (July 21), a free, 30-minute show that explores the story of the Preston-based Dick Kerr ladies football team, which in 1917 played to raise money for soldiers and local hospitals during World War One. On the festival's second day actress Selina Helliwell presents The Formidable Lizzie Boone (July 22), pulling the audience into Lizzie's world for a night of drama and dark humour. Set in a therapist's office, the show explores the intricacies of humanity through a woman who loves vodka with lemonade and a cat called Lionel, taking in the torment of school bullies, darker experiences and chaotic spirals along the way, in a play full of soul and humanity. Festival Saturday features acrobatic theatre company Mimbre in Lifted (July 23, 3pm & 7pm), another free event in which the all-female company mixes dance, theatre and circus to celebrate the expressions and impressions that appear when three strong women move, lift and balance each other. Sunday brings TrashCat Productions in Street Cat Strut (1pm, 2pm, 3pm) a short dance piece about two Manchester circus cats who climb their scratching pole, chase pigeons, dance, play and fight cat Kung Fu above your heads! On Sunday evening, celebrate one of our best-ever sitcoms as stand-up comedian Joe Rooney presents A Celebration of Father Ted (7pm). Joe has more right to the job than many: he played the rebellious young Father Damo in the classic episode The Old Grey Whistle Theft, leading Dougal astray with his bad-boy attitude. The evening will feature a screening of the episode, some behind-the-scenes insider talk from Joe, and a special Craggy Island Quiz ­and Lovely Girls contest! Ah, go wan, go wan! For those of a more serious attitude, Sunday evening also has LP Creatives in The Great Post Office Scandal (7.30pm) - which tells the true story of how hundreds of innocent postal staff were branded thieves and liars by Post Office software that claimed they had defrauded the institution - when in fact they had been victims of Post Office haughtiness and were innocent of wrongdoing. Many went bankrupt or lost livelihoods or, in some cases, went to prison. Journalist and broadcaster Nick Wallis – whose book forms the basis of the evening, will talk about the case and read from his best-selling book, followed by a Q&A session.

The festival week has masses more interesting dance, theatre and comedy dates, from a one-woman show about Julie Andrews to a look back at the Spirit of the Woodstock Festival – even an evening listening to some of the more obscure tracks and bands brought to public attention by the late, great music champion John Peel – all of which can be checked out here.

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