Albert Hall – a spectacular venue

Anyone who saw Maxime Peake perform the Masque of Anarchy at last year’s Manchester International Festival will have appreciated the Albert Hall as a perfect venue for theatre.

According to the website, the Albert Hall is a Grade II listed Wesleyan chapel designed in eclectic style with Baroque and Gothic elements for the Wesleyan Mission by W. J. Morley in 1910.  The chapel occupies the first floor with a stunning balcony on the ‘top’ floor.  For years the ground floor was a nightclub, but the chapel has been hidden since it closed in 1969.  Recently it has been refurbished by Trof, owners of the Deaf Institute.

IMG_5634This truly is a stunning venue, full of character, subtle architectural features, and with surprisingly good acoustics.  The layout works well, and the view from the upstairs balcony is virtually unrestricted.  It is slightly surreal to look up to the chapel roof during a song and realise what sort of building you are in.

Why then has it become primarily a music venue?  Don’t get me wrong, the gigs I have seen there have been memorable.  Manic Street Preachers, Angus and Julia Stone, Anna Calvi, Tame Impala.  All brilliant.  It is just an amazing venue.  But it could also be a great theatre venue.

I hope that the Manchester International Festival again takes advantage of this superb venue and programmes theatre here.  Perhaps others might also take up the challenge?

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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