Manchester theatre preview: He Had Hairy Hands returns to The Lowry

Polly Checkland Harding
Shot of four cast members

Manchester theatre company Kill the Beast brings its macabre brilliance back to The Lowry for two nights only.

“It’s a werewolf detective mystery…yeah, you know, that genre!” jokes Kill the Beast’s Natasha Hodgson. While it may not be the most well-known hybrid, pairing mystery with horror certainly sounds promising. Hodgson is talking about a stage creation by the energetic, inventive production company she is one fifth of – Kill the Beast will again be grossing out The Lowry’s stage with He Had Hairy Hands for two nights only this month (15 and 16 May). The show is a grotesque comedy with an original score – and quite an important pigeon.

Hemlock-Under-Lye is a placid town, where tea is perhaps the most important time of day, but the dwellers’ serene routines are being disrupted by werewolf attacks. And you can just imagine how terribly inconvenient those would be. The “exceptionally upsetting mystery” that unfolds has been every bit as successful as their previous show The Boy Who Kicked Pigs, winning Best Studio Production at the Manchester Theatre Awards 2015. With He Had Hairy Hands comes a stage transformed into a dank and crooked little town – and whoever came up with the name Hemlock-Under-Lye definitely deserves some credit. Minus points for any of you who (like me) Googled it, just to check.

It’s s a grotesque comedy with an original score – and quite an important pigeon, apparently

Kill the Beast became The Lowry’s Associate Artists last year, having upped sticks to Manchester from London. Hodgson explained why they’d decided to become part of the theatre scene in the north: “none of us work full-time anymore,” she said, adding that, “the only way you make time in London is to pay for it.” Following on from their brilliant and bizarre debut production – a play about a highly unpleasant 13 year-old boy – Manchester is again to be wooed with some darkly comic, supernatural slaughter.

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