On Corporation Street

On Corporation Street from ANU and HOME, Manchester, is an immersive performance looking back to the 1996 Manchester bomb.  Set up as promenade, the action moves from the main theatre through the workings of the building and into several scenes set up within theatre 2.  Quite a challenge to set a play based on events twenty years ago in a building barely one year old.  But they pretty well pull it off.

This production takes real stories and uses established theatrical techniques, film and performance art methodology to deliver the performance.  You’re in the room – a living room, a nurse’s canteen, a bedroom, a room full of keys.  But this is not one that you can sit back and expect to be entertained.  You have to give yourself up, internalise it all, get involved.  You have to see the extraneous sounds as part of the show, and not just ‘spill’ from another room.  Across several scenes, but not necessarily the same for everyone, we witness key events and people, and hear their stories, their memories from the day of the bomb.  There are particularly moving sequences involving a bride in the rubble, and a surreal mannequin room.  It’s not just the words that matter here, but the emotional response to the situations each character experiences.

GC_Home_ANU_OCS_A-498But the production does have its faults, and top is the constraint of setting it in HOME.  Too much of the environment breaks the spell.  Having watched the preview, the company have learnt to live with the building, and worked the production into what there is, but it’s not the ideal location.  The Corn Exchange may have been better.

Angel Meadow, ANU’s last collaboration with HOME, dealt with the past, presenting a vivid portrait of what life was like in historic Manchester.  On Corporation Street takes a key event in Manchester’s recent history and encourages you to ask where the city is going.  It’s all about the emotional response to the place and the people of Manchester.  You have to buy into the production, but it can be deeply moving.

On Corporation Street, presented by ANU Productions and HOME, 10-25 June 2016. This review from the 20 June performance, and I saw the preview on 10 June (which was very different).  Photo by Graeme Cooper

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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