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Greater Manchester Fringe: Manchester Related Performances Coming Up This Week

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DARK comic soap opera The Salford Belles by Jack Land Noble comes to Hope Mill Theatre, 17-22 July, featuring matriarchs Queenie, Mary and Martha.

The Salford Belles will be directed by Sebastian Shaw (pictured below in Emmerdale) and staged by LS Theatre Productions, an independent theatre company founded by Sebastian in 2008.

First staged by The Yorkshireman Company at The Lamproom Theatre in Barnsley in July 2013, The Salford Belles has been adapted for the Greater Manchester Fringe, setting it in Salford’s working class community in the 1980s based on Jack’s research into local stories. 

Sebastian said: “Family is the heart of the play and both Salford and Barnsley have those large working class families that are run by strong matriarchal women.”

Sebastian compares The Salford Belles to Coronation Street, but a post watershed version with strong language and adult humour. The cast includes Sophie Ellicott, who recently appeared in Coronation Street, is a member of BAPS Theatre Company, appearing in Di and Viv and Rose at Joshua Brooks last year.

This isn’t the first time LS Theatre Productions have taken to the Manchester stage having previously had sell out runs of the play Rita, Sue & Bob Too at The Kings Arms in Salford and the Broadway musical Rent at The Dancehouse Theatre Manchester. Click HERE to read the full I Love Manchester interview with Sebastian Shaw.

Forever Changespremieres 17-22 July at 53two, using innovative staging techniques and live music by a local composer to bring to light the affects of domestic violence with Manchester based talent – including Mary Gerardine Hooton (Truth About Youth; Parents Without Children; Who Killed The Swan?) and Adrian Palmer (The Trial, The Importance of Being Earnest). For more details here.

Matchsticks, 18-19 July at 53two, written by Rachel McMurray, of Fine Tooth Comb Theatre Company, is based on a true Mancunian story – and highlights the importance of art and challenges societies views of convicts and the prison system.

Rachel ran workshops with high security prisoners in Strangeways and left with the distinct memory of one particular prisoner she met: “He was telling me about how he struggled with his anger, and one day a guard threw a bag of matchsticks and some glue into his cell and said, ‘do something with these’. He went on to tell me how it has changed his time in prison and my first thought was, I want to tell your story.” To read more click here.

The Loves of Others, 18-22 July at 53two, is being produced in partnership with two of the most exciting new theatre companies in Manchester, MAP and Manchester ADP.

The play explores the public and private displays of love of three thirty-something couples at an awkward dinner party. Written by Manchester based writer and performance poet Alex Keelan, writer of the 5* production, Angel of the House, part of the Wonder Women Festival at Hope Mill Theatre February 2017.

Alex Keelan has a wonderful ear for quotidian comedy (British Theatre Guide, The Loves of Others 2014) Great warmth and humour….the writing is really excellent (North West End Angel of The House *****) Intelligent, engaging, humane (Manchester Theatre Awards, Angel of the House 2017).

Directed by Kayleigh Hawkins (Concrete Playground), director of Home Fires (Dolly Mixtures – Royal Exchange studio) and Sour Cherries (Unity Theatre, Liverpool). The Loves of Others also features William J Hosltead, who was nominated for a Manchester Theatre Award for Best Fringe Performance in The Trial last year.

Absolute Certainty?, 19-23 July at Tribeca, is Qweerdog Theatre’s debut play, exploring the relationship between two brothers and a best friend when sexuality, a school-boy crush and drunken sexual discovery are thrown into the mix.

Stewart Campbell, a 2017 graduate from Manchester School of Theatre (MST), directs three local actors in his short play, two of which also graduated from MST – Dafydd Shaders (2017) and Barney Thompson (2015). The third cast member, is Liverpool based actor, Benjamin Longthorne, who trained at Rose Bruford (2014).

Qweerdog Theatre is a new Manchester based theatre company, created by Stewart Campbell, aiming to bring queer and quirky stories to audiences of all persuasions, up and down the country.

Our Kid, 19-23 July at Crown & Kettle on Great Ancoats Street, is a play that looks how people grieve and move on after their worlds have been shaken. But it is a comedy. Please note this starts at 6pm.

Award-Winning Vertigo Theatre returns to Greater Manchester Fringe with a brand-new production of Watching Goldfish Suffocate19-23 July at The King’s Arms in Salford, the true story of an actor with a mental health diagnosis that could have taken it all.

When it was previously performed, Watching Goldfish Suffocate, by Craig Hepworth and David Degiorgio, received five star reviews and three nominations at the MTA awards including Best Actor and Best New Play. Hepworth also won Best Drama at last year’s Greater Manchester Fringe for Porno Chic. To read more about the inspiration about the play click here.

Just Turf, Wednesday 19 July at The Met in Bury, is a poignant, original and dark exploration of one woman’s personal fantasy to dance with Michael Flately and smother him in her prize winning creamy mashed potato. This script-in-hand, work in progress performance of a play on a passion of youth, now lost in a starchy, tuberous crop and the frustration of the dance repeatedly whumped out on a hard kitchen floor.

Mint: A New Writing Night, Wednesday 19 July at Salford Arts Theatre, showcases up to four pieces that are working class, political and diverse with an opportunity of a three-night run in November – part of the Shelagh Delaney Day Event.

Following their previous MTA nomination for Best Fringe Production, Pact Productions present this UK Premier of Starke.Florida: The Final Hours of Ted Bundy20-22 July at The King’s Arms in Salford. The American writer Ken Varnold worked in law enforcement and as an investigator, which gives this a play unique authenticity and insight.

Last chance to see on Monday 17 July – The Marriage of Kim K (7pm at 53two); Wood (FREE performance at 7pm in Vimto Park); Dark Sky (7.30pm at Tribeca) and If I Knew It Was Harmless I’d Have Killed It Myself (9.30pm at 53two).

Last chance to see on Tuesday 18 July – The Dead Live by Daniel Thackery (6pm and 9pm at Tribeca).

Photographs by Liz Baker, Elspeth Moore and Shay Rowan.

Times and prices vary. Please check www.greatermanchesterfringe.co.uk for further details and to buy tickets. Please carry on reading below for children’s shows, comedy and spoken word.

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