Two cultures, polarised in their understanding of each other, yet inextricably linked by their common goals will clash in Manchester this summer – and it’s not United or City this time.
Manchester Sound: The Massacre, the Library Theatre’s latest site-specific production, sees two underground groups meeting – one from 1819, year of the Peterloo Massacre and another from the acid house scene of the 1980’s. And their differences are not as far apart as it might first seem.
I was lucky enough to see a run through of this keenly awaited production at it’s secret location in the Northern Quarter this weekend. Upon entering and seeing the space bathed in yellow and black stripes associated with that iconic club – the Haçienda, and with the actors milling around chatting and rehearsing, it isn’t difficult to place yourself back in the club scene of the 80’s. And despite the distance between now and the acid scene, the atmosphere is overwhelmingly brought back to life.
You’ll be following the characters around during the performance as they travel to different settings and times within the venue. A performance that makes full use of its surroundings, Manchester Sound isn’t just about the music – visuals play an important part of the story. You’ll want to keep your eyes on everything; such is the rich detail with which the performance has been brought alive. Some of the execution of the visuals is extraordinarily innovative making some scenes thrive with vitality.
The polemic script addresses the obliviousness of the masses in sharp and brutal detail. Political, inspiring and moving in equal measures, I was taken aback by how affecting and sympathetic certain sequences are within the play. It will be very interesting to see how the final performances build on this solid start.
It’s a strong cast with well-defined characters all vying for your attention. Personally, I’d be keeping my eye on the ladies in the production. Well characterised and with fiery spirits, collectively they are a force to be reckoned with. Another one to watch is Stephen Fewell’s Henry Hunt – a born leader and immensely watchable.
A lot rides on Manchester Sound. The ambition to take two eras of Manchester’s past – both of which still strongly resonate today – and combine them is a brave, and some might say dangerous, move. Yet the result is a startling piece of immersive theatre that is steeped in detail. With the trademark innovation the Library Theatre is known for it should be a fitting finale to their site-specific programme. Manchester will once again move to the beat of its unmistakable sound – don’t miss your invite to the underground rave of the summer!