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MCR Fringe, Jazz and 24:7

Joan Davies with a MCR hive of cultural offerings

Written by . Published on July 18th 2014.

MCR Fringe, Jazz and 24:7

YOU'D need to be awake 24:7 to fit it all in

This year it’s almost impossible to choose between the ten plays. I’d recommend choosing a convenient time slot and just going for whatever is on.

Manchester must be in third place nationally for fringe events, second soon if Scotland goes it alone.

We’re currently in the middle of Manchester Fringe Festival, running for the whole of July, and Friday 18 July sees the opening of both 24:7 Theatre Festival, now celebrating its tenth year, and Manchester Jazz Festival, which doesn’t describe itself as ‘fringe’ but has many of the characteristics.

Annual fixture 24:7, brainchild of actor David Slack who wanted to provide opportunities for local actors, has grown in stature. Highly regarded throughout the industry and providing great opportunities for new and aspiring writers it’s retained Co-op sponsorship in the form of NOMA and is performing all shows at New Century House on Corporation Street.

Someone Who'll Watch Over Me, Manchester FringeSomeone Who'll Watch Over Me, Manchester Fringe

Following selection by a blind adjudication process (plays are submitted and chosen through a process where the judging panel doesn't know who's written them), 24:7 offers the public the chance to enjoy an event consisting of 100% new work, at low cost (only £8, £6 concs) without the sometimes more imposing trappings of a conventional theatre space. The selection process would rule the event out of standard definitions of fringe, but it hardly matters: it’s alive, successful and powerful. And it’s now.

The rapidly expanding Manchester Fringe Festival takes a different approach. There’s no adjudication, no judging. Anyone who wants to be included in the programme can be. It covers cabaret, comedy, music and exhibitions, as well as theatre.

Venues are non-standard, often pub-rooms (Salford's Kings Arms features heavily), and spread across Greater Manchester. Programme details are best found online. A few shows are running here prior to the Edinburgh Fringe so it's a good opportunity to see them at reasonable prices.

Finally Manchester Jazz Festival, now in its nineteenth year, opens on Friday 18 July and runs until Sunday 27 June.


Based in Albert Square but spreading to other venues it draws huge crowds and many events will sell out. The programme is of the usual mix which has ensured its success with audiences and performers. The cliché ‘there’s something for everyone’ is rarely more true. Costs vary from free to £30 for Booker-T (main image) at Band on the Wall. I can’t quite believe it. Booker-T. He’s here. 

Here’s a brief list of 24:7 plays. This year it’s almost impossible to choose between the ten plays. I’d recommend choosing a convenient time slot and just going for whatever is on. Stumbling across something is always more satisfying: 

(all plays are under one hour long)

Afterglow by Julie Burrow 

Relationships creates memories. Some you visit again and again. Some you can only remember in fragments, like sparks. 

In My Bed by Rebekah Harrison 

‘In My Bed’ is an ultra-modern look at how sex, love and relationships are changing what people really need from each other in a digital age. 

It follows the story of Sarah who is still coming to terms with the end of her long-term relationship until she meets Danny and everything changes. However, Danny isn’t looking for anything more than fun. Added to the mix is Rose, Sarah’s housemate. She’s found a friend in Sarah like she has never known but is Danny a threat to their friendship and what does he really want from Sarah? 

Set entirely in Sarah’s bed, and told in a non-linear timeline, ‘In My Bed’ is an up-close and personal view of a world where there are no strings attached but everyone still wants to be loved.

Stuff by Mick Cooper 

STUFF is a dark comedy/drama about a very modern issue. With IVF becoming more common-place as well as medical advancements, more people are looking at unique ways of becoming parents. STUFF is about the feeling relating to becoming a parent and other aspects of growing up”  

Anonymity by Gareth George 

Two men prepare to start work in a deserted building. They know little of each other or the job they are about to undertake. Anonymity explores trust, isolation and human connection by throwing us into a strange world of blowlamps, bravado, and a room divided by chalk lines. 

Three Women by Mari Lloyd

'Three women say goodbye to a life that never was.'

A contemporary drama in which the bonds between mothers and daughters are stretched to breaking point.

New Century HouseNew Century House

To the Dam by John Clarke 

To The Dam charts Lisa’s journey of self-discovery up to Gaddings Dam, England’s highest beach and to the Basin Stone, a landmark of struggle and resistance in history.

The Lives and Loves of Vera Dymond by Jayne Marshall 

Vera Dymond is a throwback to the past glamour of seaside variety performers who once sparkled on stage but have been replaced with newer, overnight sensations that can be downloaded, rather than applauded in a theatre. The play also tackles how some in the fame game have mentally and physically exploited young girls looking for stardom; something that has unfortunately emerged over the last few years since Operation Yew Tree.  

Pass by Naomi Sumner

'There are some mistakes you can't cross out.' 

Pass is the story of a young man who wants to succeed – but is caught in a collision of worlds. Yet the pressure to pass has unexpected consequences. 

Pass looks beyond sensationalist tabloid headlines and claims to offer a ‘more considered’ view of the complex boundaries of teacher/pupil relationships, exploring the possibility that adults who hold certain positions of authority are vulnerable too.   

Pass is probably going to be controversial. 

The Tongue Twister by Luke Walker

'To rhyme is sublime and should not be a crime.'

Set in a land where rhyming is banned it tells the story of Plug who, after eating a mysterious red lollipop, rhymes all the time. 

The Box of Tricks by Ric Brady and Stephen M Hornby

Written through Skype and FaceTime, this play tells the emotionally intriguing story about a man coming to terms with his brother’s death. 

There’ll be a wider article on Fringe coming later in the year. 

King's ArmsKing's Arms, Salford

24:7 runs from 18t 25 July at New Century House, Manchester 


Manchester Jazz Festival runs from 18 to 27 July. Albert Square hub + other venues 


The Greater Manchester Fringe Festival runs throughout July 


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