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Manchester Sound: The Massacre

By Polly Wiseman

Library Theatre Company

11 June 2013

Rachel Austin (Allegra) and Leah Hackett (Evie) in Manchester Sound: The Massacre by Polly Wiseman.  Photo by Kevin Cummins.

Rachel Austin (Allegra) and Leah Hackett (Evie) in Manchester Sound: The Massacre by Polly Wiseman. Photo by Kevin Cummins.

You are led to a secret location, a padlocked warehouse in Manchester city centre, where a double drama will be played out.

The play flits back and forth from the ‘Madchester’ of the late ‘80s to a recounting of the events surrounding the Peterloo Massacre of 1819.  You need to orientate yourself at the start, but it is an easy enough play to get into and to enjoy.  Towards the end there is a kind of mash-up, drugs being a facilitating device here as in real life, and people from the two periods meet.  They’re both fighting for freedom and against the shackles of authority, that’s the unifying theme, anyways: freedom to vote, freedom to have a good time.

Each actor took on two roles and Rachel Austin, as fiesty Allegra and the demure Jemina Bamford, stood out among an excellent cast.  Stephen Fewell made for a dashing Henry Hunt.

I would like to have heard more music, an opportune moment maybe being when climbing the stairs between acts (some sets are on different floors).  It would also have been refreshing to see a Manchester-set play where Moss Side is not stigmatised; but that wasn’t the case here.

Manchester Sound: The Massacre, a uniquely transporting theatrical experience, is playing until 6 July.  Further details can be found here.

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