Week 53 – Into the Depths of the Lowry

Week 53 has offered the chance to see the Lowry in a different light.  Different shows, different areas, something out of the ordinary.  For just over a week, the theatre has been taken ‘offline’ and reprogrammed.  Some events such as the superb Handle With Care have used offsite, site specific locations.  I did an interview before the festival to try to get an idea of what to expect.

An Anatomie in Four Quarters from Clod Ensemble drew the audience into the Lyric theatre.  As the title suggests the performance was split into four.  Initially the audience of just 200 sit in the upper circle, the dancers tiny on the distant stage.  Next, we move down to the circle, stage dancers closer, and at times performing within the seating spaces, and then to the stalls so that we’re within touching distance of the stage.  Movement is efficient and the whole performance flows well.  The dancers are stunning, the movement expressive, but really it’s the way the dancers draw us into the building that is most powerful.  Finally we’re on the stage, dancers performing around and in front of us to an empty auditorium.  From the stage it’s possible to see the whole auditorium, all the controls, flying wires, entrances and exits; there is a real feeling of being a part of this performance.

IMG_1662A week later I’m in the Scene Dock (only a few feet away on the other side of the rear wall of the Lyric) watching 30 Days of the Smiths.  It’s an interesting concept; the Scene Dock is done out  by artist David Shearing to resemble a living room and it’s both surreal and comfortable.  Light fittings hang from the ceiling.  The performance is a sound installation lasting twenty minutes which overlays short bursts of Smiths songs with a longer musical base and various people talking about being a ‘Smith’.  It’s engaging but it doesn’t really merit a ticketed performance; the live element is very much lacking.  Far better would have been to repeat the performance every hour for those in the area, in the same way the IWM next door does.

So, it’s been an interesting Festival and a valuable addition to the regional theatre scene.  I’m not convinced that the themes of place and identity came through particularly well, and despite the riches within performances, I don’t feel that the Week 53 concept really did itself justice.  But it’s the first year, I’m sure the Lowry learnt a huge amount, and I hope this comes back stronger and more fully formed next year.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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