July in Manchester means theatre festivals.  And there are four main ones.

The high profile Manchester International Festival MIF returns to the city from 2 to 19 July.  Albert Square becomes Festival Square, and performances take place throughout the city.  Is it as good as previous years?  Damon Albarn returns for wonder.land at the Palace which on previous experience should be stunning.  Neck of the Woods with Charlotte Rampling should continue the fine start to HOME, and Maxine Peake will pull in the audiences to the Royal Exchange with Caryl Churchill’s The Skriker.

The Greater Manchester Fringe continues to grow at a pace, this year featuring over 90 shows at 30 venues.  Very much based at the Kings Arms, there is a mix of new writing and established productions.  Shows I’ve reviewed before are Peaceful and Safe Mode (as a work in progress), both worth seeing.

Perhaps I am most excited by Flare, which runs from 13 to 18 July across four venues and features cutting edge performance from emerging international artists.  This is a chance to see theatre that is ‘radical’ and ‘experimental’, in familiar studio venues.  Take a chance, you might see something that changes your outlook on theatre.

The 24:7 Festival returns in a smaller format than previous years, and is based around the Martin Harris Centre.  This features four full productions, a series of monologues, a children’s show and a script in hand collaboration with the Canberra ‘You Are Here’ festival, which last year brought us the brilliant War Stories.

There are a couple of other performances that stand out.  Shrine of Everyday Things, produced with Contact promises ‘an immersive, interactive journey through domestic spaces [in] houses set for demolition and regeneration’.  Potentially amazing.

Stuff, at the Lowry Studio on 4 July, was a favourite at last year’s 24:7 Festival and is a good story well acted.

In all, a very busy month with some potentially memorable events.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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