REFRACT:21 at Waterside

Part of our Theatre guide

Kristy Stott, Theatre Editor
Cocoa Butter Club play at Refract: 21 Festival.
Image courtesy of Cocoa Butter Club / Waterside.

REFRACT:21 at Waterside Arts, Manchester, 22–31 July 2021 - Book now

Lockdown restrictions have largely been lifted, all of our favourite cultural venues are reopening and the summer festival season is upon us. Waterside Arts have further bolstered the good news by bringing us their fourth Refract Festival, taking place over ten days this July.

A unique and eclectic ten-day arts festival.

Refract:21 is a unique and eclectic arts festival packed with a handpicked programme of experiential performance, comedy, dance, live music and family activities.

The festival is based in Sale with all of the events taking place inside and outside of Trafford’s canalside creative hub, Waterside. Bringing together audiences of all ages, Refract:21 has been carefully curated and aims to push audiences and challenge attendees to see things differently.

Visitors to the festival will be able to enjoy free ‘al fresco’ entertainment on the Waterside Plaza, experience the tender and exhilarating aerial duet and physical theatre piece Why? plus a lively and vibrant dance show, Grow, by Kapow Dance Circus Theatre. Hawk Dance Theatre will also present a new work created in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Dynamic and emotive, watch on as dancers climb, leap and weave their way through a maze of metal bars.

Visitors can enjoy free ‘al fresco’ entertainment on the Waterside Plaza.

Inside the building, the festival continues with a superb line-up of comedy, music and theatre events. Catch the hit Edinburgh Fringe solo show, Friend (The One with Gunther) by acclaimed comedy actor Brendan Murphy, which reimagines the entirety of cult sitcom Friends (yes, all 10 seasons and 236 episodes) in just one hour, through the eyes of Gunther, the legendary fictional coffee guru. Audiences can also experience the ridiculous and anarchic world of clowning in the hilarious and unnerving Coulrophobia, and a night of traditional and heartfelt folk songs from England’s finest Jim Moray and Mr Wilson’s Second Liners with a New Orleans and Haçienda, ’90s club culture musical mash-up.

Don’t miss award-winning cabaret from the fierce and phenomenal Cocoa Butter Club and the interactive Solve-Along-Murder-She-Wrote, a unique night featuring games, prizes, audience participation and an interactive screening of the classic Murder, She Wrote episode ‘Broadway Malady’.

With events for all ages at Refract:21, little ones and their grown-ups can enjoy a selection of engaging and lively theatre shows. Groove into the Woods is an animated live-action musical adventure for the under 7s, and The Noise Next Door brings their lively audience-led improvised show Run Wild!

From award-winning comedy to top-notch cabaret; genre-smashing music and a parody performance of the Friends sitcom; striking outdoor dance displays to an interactive murder mystery. Packing in ten days of cultural delight, Refract:21 has got everything covered.

Check out the full festival listings and do remember to book early.

REFRACT:21 at Waterside Arts, Manchester

22–31 July 2021