Why 24:7 is important

24:7 has been at the heart of Manchester’s new writing theatre for the past ten years.  Over that time I’ve seen performances in New Century House, Printworks and the Midland Hotel.  I’ve seen ‘best of’ shows at the Octagon, and as part of Re:play.  With 24:7 you know what you’re going to get.

This year 24:7 is at the Martin Harris Centre, spread across two auditoriums; it’s a great venue for the Festival, with a spacious bar and a close communal area to reconnect with old friends.  My head told me to listen to the six site specific monologues.  But my heart knew that 24:7 has always been about new writing in the theatre.  Not having the luxury of seeing everything, I opt for two plays – Gary: A Love Story and We are the Multitude.

Over the years I’ve seen some fantastic plays at 24:7, and some I haven’t liked so much; that’s what you get with new writing. A lot comes down to personal choice, and this year is no different. Gary: A Love Story is about the relationship between two brothers, one gifted, the other slipping into the criminal system. It’s an interesting story with strong characters, well acted and directed and with impressive staging. But there’s too much pace in the first half and so you don’t care enough in the second. I enjoyed this piece most when the pace slowed and the gap between the brothers opened up, allowing humour to creep in. We are the Multitude considered the relationship between two flawed office workers in the face of a terrorist attack.  Certainly it was entertaining, with some cracking lines, but too much was said without great purpose.  I felt that the relationship between the two could have been better developed without any external events; the most interesting drama was all in the office.

The 24:7 Festival is a very popular event, and it achieves full theatres. Year after year, regardless of location or format, the performances on the final day are sold out. It’s a rare feat in ‘fringe‘ theatre, which can be notoriously difficult to sell. Make no mistake, 24:7 is an important and influential festival. Manchester theatre would be all the poorer without it.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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