Director and Writer: Janine Waters
Music: Simon Waters
Kate and Tom wake up, groggy, confused and tied up in a basement with no memory of how they ended up there. Cue flashbacks, conspiracy theories, global scandals and two halloumi kebabs in Janine Waters’ ambitious and innovative musical maelstrom that is anything but ordinary and everything you didn’t expect.
Craig Whittaker steals the show as Tom’s somewhat unhinged best mate Darren, with a voice and command of a stage that would be as much at home in the West End as it is in a small scale Manchester theatre. Charlotte Linighan and Joe Parker provide strong performances as Kate and Tom and Rachael McGuinness completes the high octane four-hander as Tom and Darren’s uptight germ-phobic coworker Maureen.
At 80 minutes with no interval, it’s perhaps a touch too long, and the flashbacks and diversions sometimes feel a little bit too disorientating and tangential. Spinach kicks off all-guns-blazing and stays right there, which while testament to the gusto and energy of its cast, leaves this ambitious musical mystery feeling at times a little one note.
Writer Janine Waters’ writing exhibits creativity that is fantastically whimsical and out of the box, another set of eyes for direction may have aided in ironing out the occasions where the action becomes a bit muddled and derailed. Spinach is certainly all singing, but a little choreography to make it “all dancing” could also help shed the odd clunky scene change and jam even more ‘thrill’ in this ambitious comedy thriller.
Ambitious, different and dark. Spinach is a surreal slice of the experimental that is otherwise sorely missing from Manchester’s theatre scene.
Runs until Saturday 18 December