Greater Manchester FringePreview

MANC MINI: King Lear

Our Manc Mini series offers short, witty and slightly tongue-in-cheek insights into the offerings at the North West’s largest arts festival. Karl Falconer of PurpleCoat Productions, tells us about their showKing Lear, which they will be performing at Hope Mill Theatre.

How would you describe your show in one sentence?

An immersive re-imagining of Shakespeare’s bleakest play; a jealous tyrant divides his kingdom between his three daughters based on who loves him most.

Is this your first visit to the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, if so what interesting tales have you been told about what to expect?

This is our first visit to the Fringe and we have no idea what to expect! It’s a great privilege to be playing in the relatively new and particularly gorgeous Hope Mill Theatre, and to be presenting Shakespeare in this anniversary year is a huge landmark to live up to. All of our impressions of the Greater Manchester Fringe are of total friendliness and complete comradery and we’re looking forward to being a part of that. This seems like a festival with great heart, for a great purpose, and the audiences in Manchester have always been hugely supportive of us and the work that we make. Let’s hope we can keep on their good side with this production!

How has the show developed on the way to the Greater Manchester Fringe?

Our performance at the Fringe will mark the end of an epic UK and Ireland tour of King Lear. We are expecting a full house and will be giving it everything we have learnt along the way, making it certain to be the highlight of the whole experience. The performance is constantly developing as we go through rehearsals, driving us closer and closer to making a show that speaks to people as if it was written today. We want this production to fire like a bullet and to constantly be theatrical and innovate, pushing the boundaries further towards immersing our audience fully in the landscape of King Lear.

How have you been preparing for the Greater Manchester Fringe?

We have a long history with Manchester, having performed as part of the 24/7 Theatre Festival, with the RSC at the Contact and with the Manchester Short Film festival after our short film, shot in Manchester, became part of the official lineup for Virgin Media Shorts 2013. We can’t wait to be back in the big city and we’re getting ourselves ready for the fantastic energy of the fringe that we think will only build as July goes on. We want to develop a show that deserves a place in this great festival and which people will remember for a long time.

What do you think sets your show apart from all the other festival offerings?

We have accumulated more than eight years of producing innovative Shakespearean theatre that has seen us gain support from figures such as Judi Dench and Stephen Fry, and collaborate with industry leaders including the RSC and National Theatre. We know how to put on a good show and we have the reviews to prove it. We believe that the theatre should be for everyone and our work seeks to break down increasingly difficult barriers for audiences and performers alike. At PurpleCoat, we do Shakespeare differently, and audiences can expect an immersive rollercoaster through the Bard’s most brutal play.

What’s the show that you don’t want to miss at this year’s Festival (apart from your own!)?

Lowhurt Production’s Twelfth Night looks an absolute riot: we took that play on tour in 2014 and have hugely fond memories of it. It’s great to see grassroots Shakespeare changing the status quo and helping to send a message that Shakespeare doesn’t have to be male, pale and stale. An all-female, modern day Illyria? Bring it on!

If your show was a biscuit what type of biscuit would it be and why?

It’s hard to pin down a biscuit that makes you contemplate the hopeless futility of life in quite the way that Shakespeare intended: maybe a Galaxy? Although we often wonder about the cruelty of life when our digestive breaks in our tea thanks to an over-eager dipping technique, so perhaps it’s that. Perhaps King Lear is a soggy digestive. We’ll take that.


Dates and times: 22nd July

Ticket prices: £8, £5 Conc (+ Booking Fees)

Venue: Hope Mill Theatre

Box Office Details: www.greatermanchesterfringe.co.uk. Start Time: 7.00pm

Company Twitter: @purplecoat

The Reviews Hub - North West

The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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