Review: The Manchester Project @ Push Festival, HOME

  • 19 two minute shows about what makes Manchester great
  • Northern Quota reporter Jess Stoddard reviews this brand new commision

Monkeywood Theatre Company have commissioned 19 Mancunian writers to write 19 tiny but titanic new plays exploring Manchester and its people.

The plays take us from Moss Side to Middleton, Flixton to Failsworth, Droylsden to Didsbury and ask, when we push the clichés aside, what does it really mean to be part of this city?

Through two-minute scenes, with the music that has shaped our city playing in between, the Manchester Project celebrates all that we are as a city.

Little Hulton is all swings and roundabouts, and Reuben Johnson embraces his childhood of growing up here. Using the blocks like a playground, hopping from one to the other, the poem results in a rap, with rhythm and repetition fuelling the piece.

Gareth George creates a wonderful short scene between an artist looking to move to Levenshulme, in love with its famous signs and the atmosphere. Only a local could highlight the delights of this neighbourhood, including its meat raffles.

You then end up at Prestwich Hospital, or the Lancashire Lunatic Asylum as it was called, as Becky Prestwich shows us the art of “just being”.

A controversial piece by Andrew Sheridan describes Timperley, where you can be “whatever you want, whatever makes you happy, you’re special”.

Victoria Brazier allows the youth of Rusholme look “like I don’t care” as they hide behind Platt Lane field to have a cigarette. 

Rebekah Harrison describes the pub in Droylsden as a place where you can get ready to go out, have a Jagerbomb, a dance and wonder about the story behind a photo of a fallen solider on the wall. 

Cheer for your team at Old Trafford, where the tram stops and Aldi are all adding value to our lives, but Furqan Akhtar makes the audience think about the real meaning of Old Trafford.

Francesca Waite celebrates all things Manchester in Burngage, where there’s “the record shop where the Oasis fans go”.

Chris Hoyle takes you to Tommy’s Chippy, where young Tommy is afraid to be himself – he hides the fact that he goes straight from work to Canal Street, the “metropolis of Manchester”. Even in today’s day and age, he can’t be himself all the time.

Can you be a Mancunian and from Didsbury – Anna McDonald Hughes explains.

Samantha Siddall describes Denton’s green space – more like “a pond with three ducks”.

With Southern Cemetery in Chorlton being the largest in Europe, Becky Garrod describes the landmark that looks like you have just jumped into Narnia.

The Greggs has closed down for being robbed – “pastry-la-vista”, a student loses a tenner, a bohemian yummy mummy is glad it is not Didsbury – Withington celebrates diversity, and James Quinn captures the diverse area that Withington is.

If you chose not to hear something, is it still happening? While madness surrounds, Ian Kershaw allows escapism in Harpurhey.

Who actually lives in Cornbrook? Was there really a palace and tigers where the building site is? Unanswered questions by Lindsay Williams.

All the lads in Failsworth are fit apparently – only before they becoming disgusting men according to Cathy Crabb.

Don’t worry about peasants stealing your shoes or getting shot in Moss Side – there’s the carnival! Curtis Cole shouts about the multicultural nature that is Moss Side, in all it’s glory.

Rows and rows of houses and fields is all there is in Flixton – Sarah McDonald Hughes explains how “everyone seems a little bit angry all the time” here.

Town, with the punks on Market Street and the “hum of the city calling me”, Eve Steele expresses her love of the town, the “famous, notorious and ours” city. 

The shorts are performed wonderfully by Curtis Cole, Reuben Johnson, Sarah McDonald Hughes, James Quinn, Meriel Schofield and Eve Steele.

The Manchester Project is showing at HOME until 27 Jan – book here.

Watch out for pop up performances of individual plays before every Theatre 2 performance as part of the PUSH festival.

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All photos by David Fawcett