Unexpected Items

Unexpected Items (Tales from Bury Market) is an audio based theatre tour of Bury Market, co-produced by Contact and Re:Con, Contact’s young programming and producing team.  It’s a very effective piece of audio theatre.


Over 35 minutes we walk along our own route through the open market, the audio on headphones.  We hear stallholders talking about their lives in the market, the very personal relationships with customers, their hopes and fears, the challenge of changing ways of life, and the passing down of secret Black Pudding recipes from generation to generation.  It’s uplifting, but with that very real undercurrent of the need to respond to change.


It’s very well put together, and the conversations are fascinating.  There’s a lovely pace to the whole piece.  I did this with my daughter who said she could have listened for two hours (although the many food samples along the way did help).


Unless you are a regular at the market, I think there is a temptation to see stallholders as anonymous and faceless.  Maybe you focus more on what they are selling  than the people behind the products.  This production encourages you to concentrate on the individuals, to look closely at them and wonder if a particular story is theirs?  And what might their story be?  It becomes a market not of produce, but made by human beings.


And yet on this dull Saturday afternoon the market was fairly busy; certainly there’s still a lot of trade.  This performance is a very effective way of connecting with the market, of seeing its past and future relevance to the local area.  But it’s also a record of our changing retail scene, and very firmly asks the question of how we want to buy in the future.  How personal do we want the retail experience to be, and how important is trust?  There is no reason why Bury Market should not be a model for the future.


Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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