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24:7 Theatre Festival, Manchester - 2011

Published by: Caroline May on 23rd Jul 2011 | View all blogs by Caroline May
24:7 Theatre Festival, Manchester
21-29 July 2011

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The International Festival has barely finished debuting an eclectic assortment of artistic commissions around the city, when Manchester’s original festival of new writing returns for its eighth consecutive year. 

The 24:7 Theatre Festival has selected 13 pieces from several hundred submissions for its annual showcase of freshly minted plays performed in unconventional spaces.  The 2011 season, extended to nine days this year, also encompasses rehearsed readings, skills workshops, 24 hour plays, after-hours music sessions, a comedy film night and a sketch show (all details on the website).

Activities have expanded over three venues.  As well as the extensive facilities of New Century House, and a welcome return to the plush surroundings of the Midland Hotel, there’s a new outpost at quirky Sachas Hotel on the fringes of Manchester’s Trendy Northern Quarter™.

Friday 22 July

The Crimson Retribution - New Century House

This is writer Steve Pearce’s third outing at 24:7, and also his most ambitious.  The Crimson Retribution is a mixture of live theatre and animated graphic novel that appears to be the bastard love-child of Sin City and Coronation Street. 

The arresting opening scene of a young woman being assaulted on the mean streets of Manchester plays against a projection of the city as imagined by artist and illustrator Hammo, and the dance-like fight sequence is choreographed by Laura Asbury in the same cartoony style.

In that context it seems only natural that our heroine (Amy – Emily Fleeshman) should be saved by a super-hero in a red face mask – though it’s slightly more unusual for said masked hero to take up residence in the flat she shares with her boyfriend Sean.

In fairness, Amy’s domestic arrangements are already pretty dysfunctional – the rent on the flat is being paid for by petty gangster Kyle, Sean’s half-brother, who in the best Pinter tradition is muscling in on Sean’s territory, namely, Amy. 

Steve Pearce’s script exploits all the comic possibilities of this wacky scenario, in addition to ramping up the drama with the sado-masochistic sibling relationship and the constantly shifting sexual tension.

Paul Sockett’s hilarious turn as the Crimson Retribution is absolutely in keeping with the classic square-jawed, all-American action hero, albeit one who makes a nice cup of tea.

David Degiorgio is delightfully creepy as the cruel and manipulative Kyle, and Alex Rogerson makes Sean both weak and sympathetic. 

Director Clare Howdon has clearly worked hard with her creative team to fashion a technically impressive and highly imaginative production.  It’s only budgetary and spatial considerations that stop this show from being as slick and flash as something staged by the National Theatre. has all the show information including video trailers

£8/£6 (conc): book online from the 247 website (or turn up at the venues)


New Century House, Mayes Street entrance M60 4ES (200 metres from The Printworks, a stone’s throw from Victoria Station and Shudehill interchange)

Midland Hotel, Peter Street, M60 2DS (opposite St Peter’s Square tram stop)

Sachas Hotel, Tib Street, M4 1SH (just off Piccadilly Gardens)



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