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PREVIEW: 24:7 Theatre Festival, Manchester

Now in its ninth year, the 24:7 Festival is certainly one of the highlights of Manchester’s theatrical calendar. During that time, it has premiered 136 new pieces of theatre, in various venues across the city.

At this year’s launch on 20th June, at the Comedy Store on Deansgate Locks, David Slack, the festival’s affable executive producer, introduced the new line-up with great enthusiasm. Kathryn Worthington, the festival’s director, made a point to acknowledge the people who read all the plays submitted to the festival, a process that took a staggering three months. As in previous years, the line-up of ten plays is very varied, and each was presented in a five-minute preview at the launch. As David Slack put it, “There are all shades of hero and anti-hero, on a variety of physical and emotional journeys.”

Opening the evening’s previewed plays was Goldfish, by Lisa Whiteside, the story of three young people trying to survive on an urban estate. In the live trailer, we meet two of these young people, as an innocent game of patty-cake descends into a very dark game of house. This looks like a very promising play from Baby Giant Productions.

Next were 24:7 regulars Monkeywood Productions with Stars are Fire by Francesca Waite. This is the story of Carly, who moves from Manchester to Northumberland with her dad, after the death of her Mother. Monkeywood have produced plays such as Last Orders and the very popular Once in a House on Fire, so they will hopefully continue to impress.

Lightening the tone a little was The Legend of the Ghost Shark by Anthony Morgan, a surreal comedy exploring what happens to a writer during the writing process. It is the story of a journalist who decides to write a fairy tale for a supernatural mafia. While the piece is essentially about conflict, Morgan assures us that the focus is on comedy.

All the Bens by Ian Townsend, an interesting story of three young men and sexual desire was put on by a local cast in the live trailers, and featured some very promising performances. This could be the hot ticket of the festival.

Alongside these new pieces there was also the gritty Loaded by former youth worker Jo Kirtley Pritchard and The Transit of Venus by Eric Northey which mixes the relatively heavy subjects of science and war. Both The Cell by Michael Crowley and Firestarter by Dave Windass look to be quite intense, dark pieces. Completing the line-up are My Arms by James Leach, a love story in reverse, and The Interpreter, Home, by Hekate Papadaki, the story of a relationship between an interpreter and her mental health client.

Each play will be performed seven times, at varying times, across three city centre venues. There will be two venues in New Century House and one in Afflecks Palace. As well as all the great new plays on offer, there will be a series of rehearsed readings, and performances of Nick Yardley’s radio play Tower of Babel. 24:7 looks to be a great week of exciting new talent and an event that Manchester should be proud of.

The ninth 24:7 Theatre Festival runs in Manchester City Centre, from July 20th to 27th.Full details can be found at http://247theatrefestival.co.uk/.

Reporter: Tracey Lowe

Image: Artwork forThe Legend of the Ghost Shark (source:247theatrefestival.co.uk)

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The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.