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Manchester Lines

Claudia Canavan chats to the director and cast of this innovative new production.

Written by . Published on May 30th 2012.


Manchester Lines

SPURNING the traditional setting of a formal theatre the Library Theatre Company are taking their latest production five stories up to a space in Number One First Street - that bit of the centre between the railway bridge and the Mancunian Way down from the Bridgewater Hall.

Whilst awaiting the completion of a new purpose built site in the same area, the company are running performances in locations around the city, in addition to three productions a year at The Lowry in Salford.

Set in a lost property office, managed by Eugene (John Branwell), this show aims to show the manner in which lives intertwine and inter- mingle, the serendipity of chance encounters, and how we are often defined by what we lose and find in the ‘sorting office of life’.

Musing on the fateful twists and turns of those who enter Eugene’s domain, the play develops the stories of the rest of the ensemble.

Adoptee Pauline struggles to come to terms with the biological family she was denied. Shanti discovers the brother she never knew, a loner whose frequent misplacing of his umbrella belies an ongoing identity crisis. While Anna simply wants to lose herself amidst the crowd and blend into total anonymity.

Director Wils Wilson is promoting the production as ‘about Manchester, and for Manchester’

Director Wils Wilson is promoting the production as ‘about Manchester, and for Manchester’: it revolves around Mancunian characters and tells their stories through a distinctly Manchester medium.

John Branwell, who plays Eugene, believes that: ‘‘The story is relatable to all Manchester residents. The variety of characters offer their perspectives from all scopes of life, which means any member of the audience will identify at some point with the happenings."

Tachia Newall, playing Omar, echoes these sentiments: ‘‘The fact that the play is set in Manchester, plus the exciting space, means it will hopefully appeal to a wide demographic’’. Indeed, the small, intimate setting is far removed from the formal realm of theatre. This production, conversely, welcomes everyone to a location in which they will feel at ease. Rather than a standard seating plan the audience will perch on pieces of set scattered around the outside of the performance space.

It's all very engaging and interesting, and comes complete with stacks of lost property (borrowed from the London Underground lost property office; to be donated to the Salvation Army once the play’s run is over).

After the performance the audience will be given the opportunity to view Manchester from five stories up - "showing the lines of Manchester", as Wilson says.

A community choir will join in to boost the experience.

Wilson hopes that the play will inspire people to think about the ways in which their own lives may overlap with the people they pass in the street; the joys and difficulties of the individual they sit adjacent to on the bus.

Manchester Lines sounds like it might be an intelligent, thought- provoking piece of theatre, with an innovative, creative edge. Just uo the Library Theatre's street in that case.

Manchester Lines will be performed from Tuesday 12th June- Saturday 7th July. Box Office: www.librarytheatre.com/ 0161 200 1500

Follow Claudia on Twitter @ClaudiaCanavan

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