Just opposite the Briton’s Protection, on the site of the old Bauer Millett car dealership, the new 53two theatre and arts space has been formed in the arches.  You can just about hear the low rumble of trams above, but the theatre space has great character and quite remarkable acoustics.  Still in the process of being fully fitted out, this is a space that could be an extremely valuable addition to the Manchester theatre scene.

My first visit is for the NorthSouthShorts, presented by MAP and 53two themselves.  It’s a standard shorts structure, six plays over roughly two hours including interval.  Just three playwrights are involved, Anna Jordan (writer of the superb Bruntwood prize winner Yen), Bolton writer Joshua Val Martin (whose work includes the excellent Back Seat Betty), and North West writer Kellie Smith.  Normally in a shorts night I’d be very happy to rate two or three of the six plays.  In this performance there are four stand out plays, covering all three of the writers.  It’s a high quality evening of ‘proper’ drama.

All of the plays are based on relationships between two people.  Father and son, brother and brother, ex-partners.  All through, there is an undercurrent of loneliness, and attempts to close emotional distance.  No more so than the final play exploring the relationship through a wall of an old man and a single mother.  These are fascinating, contemporary plays exploring real issues that people experience today.  It’s very much in keeping with the ethos of contemporary new writing for the theatre.

On top of that, you get impressive acting and directing.  If you like new writing – proper new writing for the theatre – you’ll love these.  More information on 53two here and NorthSouthShorts (till 22 October 2016) here.



Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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