53two, Manchester – 30th June 2018.
Reviewed by Sally Richmond
On Saturday the 30th of June, MancMade at 53two returned in the form as a one-day celebration of some of Manchester’s finest and multi-talented performers. Earlier in the year, MancMade had been spread over three days but today it was a non-stop showcase of live acts just in one.
53two is a unique and fascinating Arts venue, being part of the mysterious Deansgate abandoned underground tunnels, it is operated as a charity and is Manchester’s largest performing space for artists. The beautiful red-bricked under-dwelling has two rooms under the one roof, which are extremely versatile as they have multi-faceted uses from being a theatre, wedding or gig venue, exhibition room and the list goes on.
Dave Viney, a very funny and also poignant local poet who performed at the festival said “This is Manchester, we do things differently here.” and I certainly agree with him as it was different to other performing arts festivals I’ve been to before, as it just seemed to run effortlessly from one act to the next with, pardon the pun, no drama – even the audience returned back on time from the mini breaks throughout.
Fresh, new and talent are some words that could be used to describe the evening, alongside a sense of new beginnings and the feeling that you may be witnessing something or someone who’ll be “on the telly” or “that new play-write” sometime soon. But at the heart of it all was Manchester; a place that has created some of the greatest pioneers of our time and the best ‘chunes’ too … (another Viney quote) and tonight the talent was evident.
There was something for everyone at MancMade as the five plays were very diverse in their delivery and content from the playful but thought provoking ‘Heart to Heart’ written by Chloe Mclaughlin and directed by Lauren Sturgess ( brilliantly performed by Victoria Oxley, Ethan Holmes, Lucy Avison and Rob Mitchell-Jones), in which we had to imagine a world with no NHS and had choose which deserving citizen got a heart transplant to the laugh out loud ‘The Anniversary’, written by Victoria Connerty, directed by Simon Naylor (performed by two hilarious ladies the charming and witty Karen Henthorn and Meriel Schofield). As mentioned earlier, Dave Viney, performed some amusing and also nostalgic poems which were both down to earth and gave a no frills description of life in Manchester but with an underlying and undeniable love for his city.
Other acts included a moving play about a young man who had the heart wrenching decision of giving up his child after his partners early demise called, ‘The Whistling Kettle’, written and performed by Joey Ellis and directed by Sushil Chadasama, ‘Cross Words’ written by John Cooper, directed by David Whitney with outstanding performances from David Howell, Patricia Jones and George Astbury exploring the complexities of human relationships and Kate Anita performing her fusion of acoustic folk and alternative pop.
They always say they save the best till last and for me and many others in the audience judging by the laughter volume, that came in the form of actress Karen Henthorn, who played Debbie in The Anniversary and never as anyone made the act of eating a chocolate biscuit so intriguingly funny since the girl in the Cadbury flake ads.
After the plays, as always with Manchester came the music with one outstanding performer, James Holt, who surprisingly blew me away with song after that I can’t wait to Spotify! MancMade is a festival that I will definitely go to again and 53two is now on the top of my list to visit when I’m next here and want to grab a bit of that lovable, Mancunian culture, in those cosy caverns in the belly of the city.