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Re:Play Festival

Nicola Mostyn enjoys a bracing blast of new works at The Library Theatre

Published on January 17th 2008.

Re:Play Festival

It is an exiting few weeks at The Library Theatre with the venue showcasing some of Manchester’s freshest new works.

Different Perspectives follows Wayne as an innocent favour goes awry and includes moments of humour and, be warned, some eye-watering violence.

The eight plays, showing now until January 26, are from up-and-coming writers and directors and were originally seen in non-theatre venues such as Salford’s King Arms and in The Printworks as part of the city’s 24:7 theatre festival.

We’ve already had Different Perspectives and Mind the Gap, which offered two dynamic but very different pieces of theatre.

Different Perspectives (Wed 16 and Thu 17, 7pm) is presented by Hercules Theatre and was written by Marcus Hercules who is the sole actor in this piece. Hercules plays the part of a Jamaican father whose son, Wayne, is in danger of being dragged into a life of crime by the company he keeps. With only one live actor, Different Perspectives makes use of mixed media with a large screen as a backdrop on which Wayne (also played by Hercules) and his friends are seen going about their business. Including monologues, song and rap, Different Perspectives follows Wayne as an innocent favour goes awry and includes moments of humour and, be warned, some eye-watering violence. If the script comes across as a little heavy-handed, the play gets into its groove as it goes along.

If Different Perspectives attempts to tackle the hefty topics of street crime and disaffected youth, Mind the Gap keeps its target small and is all the more successful because of it.

Set on the last Tube home in a blackout, Mind the Gap (Wed 16 and Thu 17, 8.45pm) is a taut, gripping piece of theatre about the communication between two seeming strangers. The play’s writer, Luke Walker, plays the tube passenger Dismus who finds he is stuck in the dark with fellow passenger Dawn (played by Louise Morris).

Flipping fluidly between what the characters are thinking and what they are saying, Mind the Gap is a brilliantly written, excellently-acted piece, with real control and humour and a surreal, disturbing edge which is expertly handled.

As the two characters connect in the pitch black and events begin to get less and less fathomable, the play’s focus is all on words – what is said and not said, the different personas people present and what lies underneath.

This is an example of a play using its limits to its advantage. The set is simple: just two tube seats set under occasionally blinking lights. There are no scene changes, only two characters and little action but it is this starkness and claustrophobia which makes Mind The Gap an intense and riveting piece of theatre, a definite must-see.

And there is plenty more to look forward to in the Re:Play run, with each play offering something different to the last. In An Englishman's Home (Fri 18, Sat 19, 7pm) a man who has just been released from prison tells his story: homophobia and football are the topics of The Game of Two Halves (Fri 18, 8.45pm, Sat 19 3pm): In The Lullaby Witch (Mon 21-Wed 23, 7pm) a rock journliast hunts for a serial killer; and there’s a play within a play in Pigeon Theatre’s The Rehearsal (Tue 22 and (Thu 24 to Sat 26, 7pm) which is set in a local pub and, in Concrete Ribbons (Thu 24 – Sat 26, 8.45pm), a couple stuck in their high rise flat put on performances for passing motorists, with moving results.

Added to these eight productions there will also be a script-in-hand reading of Father’s Day (Fri 25, 4.30pm and Sat 26, 3pm) the play by Manchester’s Steve Gardner which was runner-up in Channel Four's The Play's The Thing in 2006, in which a nine year old is desperately hoping his father will visit.

With more variety in the next ten days than you might normally find in an entire theatre season, this is a great chance to catch the best new theatre in the city, a pic’n’mix of innovative and entertaining productions, not to be missed.

Re:Play Festival, until Jan 26, £8 each. www.librarytheatre.com 0161 236 7110, St. Peter’s Square, Manchester, M2 5PD

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