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Taurus plays: Fringe Theatre rising

Joan Davies reviews a couple of shows at Taurus bar on Canal Street and then gets on a soapbox about Manchester's fringe

Published on February 5th 2010.


Taurus plays: Fringe Theatre rising

Organised Chaos Productions, a brand new fringe theatre company, present a double-bill at Taurus on Canal Street.

here’s a real buzz about Fringe Theatre in Manchester these days. 24:7, Manchester’s annual summer festival of new one hour plays, goes from strength to strength. JB Shorts merely through word-of-mouth has queues forming at Joshua Brooks twice a year, and both get serious billing at the Library Theatre’s Replay event.

The first offering ‘Seconds Out’ is a new departure for writer Helen East who has previously written for Channel 4’s Brookside. Local actors Drew Hancock and Andrew Madden play two boxers. Al, played by Hancock, runs a gym and has invested time, belief and dreams in Danny who is now on the verge of international success and who, inevitably, has moved on, but in unpredictable as well as predictable directions.

Both actors give convincing performances, and the ending is particularly strong. This has the makings of a good taut piece of drama but at over an hour is too long to be watching two boxers, a profession not particularly known for its verbal communication skills. It’s more interesting when they don’t talk in clichés, but the call for realism does seem to demand that the characters do talk ithis way, often to hide their true feelings.

The second piece ‘The Benefit of Time’, written by Terri-Ann Brumby, is a real gem. Entertaining, unpredictable and funny it is immediately engaging thanks to the sure yet quirky writing, the originality of the piece and two skilled actors.

Direction by Chloe Lang makes full use of the tiny space, highlights the comedy and keeps the pace flowing. Suzanne Roche and Hamish Sturgeon as patient and therapist are well cast and make a superb team. Suzanne’s performance in the main role of Debbie is confident and convincing from the start.

Therapist Donald takes Debbie through a regression procedure and Debbie, who essentially is the office wallflower with an even less exciting private life, becomes someone very different, someone we’ve all heard of, someone whose fate we all know. Suzanne convincingly switches from one to the other and back again and at the same time portrays the more gradual change the ‘regression’ produces on Debbie’s everyday character. A superb performance.

Eye on the world of Fringe

This double bill is the first production from Organised Chaos Productions, a company headed by Gayle Hare, Kirsty Fox and Mark Creamer. If they can produce this standard of work on their first outing they’re definitely worth watching in the future. The word is that this short run is already sold out.

There’s a real buzz about Fringe Theatre in Manchester these days. 24:7, Manchester’s annual summer festival of new one hour plays, goes from strength to strength. JB Shorts merely through word-of-mouth has queues forming at Joshua Brooks twice a year, and both get serious billing at the Library Theatre’s Replay event.

There are some great venues too, the sort of places you’re happy to have a drink in even when there’s no show scheduled, such as The King’s Arms in Bloom Street, near Salford Central, and Taurus Bar’s basement space Sabai Lounge.

Mainstream theatre plays its part, hosting small-scale touring and home-grown productions from innovative companies like Hulme-based Coal, which creates original theatre in collaboration with other artists, and the inventive and entertaining Manchester-based company, Quarantine. The latter put people who have never performed alongside experienced performers, thus blurring the distinction between spectator and performer. Quarantine’s great. You might get to dance on stage, eat sandwiches or cradle a cuddly toy during their performances: you might also cry.

On Saturday Manchester Library Theatre is hosting a debate on the future of fringe theatre in Manchester and there’s even a new Facebook group for Manchester Fringe Theatre networking. Definitely worth investigating, fringe theatre is generally cheaper too and sometimes even the programmes are free.

The two plays ’Seconds Out’ and ‘The Benefit of Time’ are presented as a double bill at the Taurus Bar on Canal Street from the 3rd to the 6th February. For further information see click here

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Harvey PFebruary 5th 2010.

Good article, Fringe Theatre is indeed flourishing. Although finding out where it's taking place can be a problem.

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