Januarys in Manchester have long been a busy time for theatre thanks to Re:play Festival – now rebranded as PUSH since it became part of HOME. We’re big fans, not only because it’s an opportunity to revisit your favourite works from the previous year, but also because it gives you the chance to catch shows you might have missed.
Firmly in the first category for us is The Trial, which was originally on at Hope Mill Theatre. Not many fringe shows are worth five stars, but this one really was – a quick-witted and clever adaptation of Kafka’s novel from People Zoo Productions. William J. Holstead was a rubber-faced revelation in the lead role, while director Craig Sanders’ imaginative staging added to the absurdist humour.
Another one we’re looking forward to enjoying again is Pen:Chant. Hosted by Ben Mellor, this mix-and-match evening of music, theatre, comedy and cabaret is one of the best nights out in Manchester. You never know quite what you’re going to get, but you know it’s going to be good.
Finally, a couple that we missed first time around: Debs Gatenby’s A Place Called Happiness and Morale is High (Since We Gave Up Hope) from Powder Keg. Debs’ work can make you cry with both laughter and sadness, while Morale is High (Since We Gave Up Hope) is the best show title we’ve heard in ages…so we definitely don’t want to miss it this time.