Director: Matt Fenton
Having been closed for two years to undergo a major redevelopment, Manchester’s Contact theatre reopens in impressive style with this forty-five-minute show directed by Artistic Director, Matt Fenton. Recognised as being the UK’s leading theatre and arts venue with young people at its heart, it is appropriate that the Contact’s opening show is performed by its Young Company (CYC). Billed as a ‘physical journey through a new world,’ this powerful piece provides a wonderful opportunity for the Contact to reaffirm its vision for empowering young people through the arts and creativity.
Performed on a bare stage with evocative lighting from Julie Parker, the company of performers including actors, dancers, stand-up comedians, and poets use dance, physical theatre, and the spoken word to address the wide range of challenges they have experienced during the last eighteen months. Under the assured direction of Choreographer, Yandass Ndluvo, movement is used brilliantly to convey the everyday minutiae of lockdown and the young people’s worries about isolation, loneliness, loss of education and employment.
The young performers’ excitement in performing live in front of an audience is palpable and electric. Highlights include a haunting and intense pole dance routine, sharply executed physical theatre sequences and compelling poetic monologues exploring emotions rooted in confusion, regret, and loss. Deservedly, the CYC received a standing ovation at the end of this performance: from start to finish their commitment, concentration and energy are mesmerising. Fenton and his creative team are to be congratulated for producing a highly slick and polished piece of multi-layered dynamic theatre.
Costing £6 million, of which over half was given by Arts Council England, this investment in the Contact is not just about providing new and improved performance spaces. There is a lot more to celebrate with its transformation and to look forward to in the coming years. If this talented young cast and its performance is anything to go by audiences are sure to be thrilled and engaged by what they see at the refurbished Contact.
Runs until 9 October 2021