Manchester theatre: HOME's housewarming

Polly Checkland Harding

Angel Meadow and Romeo & Juliet were both sell out productions – we found out what’s next in HOME’s opening season of theatre.

In June, Angel Meadow led us around the alleyways of Ancoats and into a building heavy with grit misery. Then there was Romeo & Juliet – the romance you never quite get over – filling Victoria Baths with bacchic, riotous spirit. Now, it’s time for a theatre season that brings us even closer to HOME. From this October onwards Number One First Street , an office block opposite the HOME building site, hosts its very first productions, beginning with The Best of BE Festival.

For two evenings only, four short plays selected from Birmingham’s BE Festival will be performed in Manchester. “It’s like going out for tapas,” says Miguel Oyarzun, Co-Director of BE Festival, referencing both the bite-sized nature of the productions and the edible element of the night. During the interval between the second and third plays, a meal will be served, giving audience members a chance to eat alongside cast and crew.

It’s time for a theatre season that, finally, brings us HOME

This seems the ideal way to explore four performances from across Europe, in a collage of film, sound and striking physical feats. The plays range from a comic exploration of being a younger brother (and a bad loser) in Beating McEnroe, winner of the BE Festival Audience Prize, to an examination of the human experience of waiting, in – you guessed it – Waiting.

Next comes a production with a more tragic bent: David Greig’s award winning new play The Events looks at how we grapple with human tragedy, and how the questions that it raises can consume us. This critically acclaimed play is both choral and chillingly personal. Each performance will feature a different local choir from Manchester, while the trailer for the production evidences a dangerously narrow voice. “By the time he was my age, Bob Geldoff had saved Africa. By the time he was my age, Gavrilo Princip had fired the shot that started World War One. If I’m going to leave a mark on the world, I have to do it now. The only means I have are art, or violence. And I was never any good at drawing,” it says. Shivers, no?

Less desperate in tone, but no less gripping, is Insomnia at the start of November. This “pas de deux for two girls and a piano man” is a comic and, at times, absurd medley of dance, music and theatre – a kind of dream in which the performers provide evolving excuses to stay awake. It’s exactly this sort of playful blending of genre and form that best captures what HOME will be: a place where theatre, dance, music, art and film live side by side. And, with all this in store, we can’t wait to go along for the housewarming at Number One First Street, across the road.

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Kamila Shamsie. Photo Alex von Tunzelman

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