Royal Exchange Studio – Secret Theatre 6

The Royal Exchange Studio must be my favourite venue in Manchester.  Over the years I have seen amazing, innovative theatre in this space.  And yet, tucked away in a corner, I feel that many visitors may not even be aware of its existence.

I have come to see Secret Theatre’s Show 6; I was impressed with their ‘A Series of Increasingly Impossible Acts’.  Surprisingly this production is not sold out.

IMG_5537This is a strange play, full of contradictions.  Very physical, full of clipped language and extreme characters, in many ways this is good modern theatre.  On the other hand the journey is contrived, falling halfway between story and devised theatre.  It never quite achieves either.  The central premise – that of children finding out that their real parents were opponents of a repressive regime, then adopted by supporters of that regime – is rich material, but it never seems to gain depth.  The idea that we need to know our own history to understand where we are now is important.

It is the script that lets this production down.  The acting is superb, and the characters vivid and slightly surreal.  Direction and movement are perfect.  In the production I saw, the sound failed after ten minutes and the play had to be restarted; in many ways this improved the play as it added significant tension in the knowledge that plays are rarely restarted twice.


Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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