Greater Manchester Fringe: Our picks
The fifth Greater Manchester Fringe Festival takes over the city this July, having graduated from a six-venue set-up back in 2012 to a sprawling takeover of 23 theatres, pubs, libraries, shops and other such makeshift performance spaces across the county.
The open access arts festival celebrates all manner of art forms, while also providing a stage to rising names in theatre, comedy and performance, averaging 60% of first-time performers and producers.
Running from 1-31 July, the festival features brand new plays including Millionaires Anonymous and The Chamber of Beheaded Queens, cultural debate with Dave Haslam, the latest shows from the likes of Robin Ince and Norris and Parker and much more.
We've done the hard work for you and whittled the programme down – check out our highlights here:
Inkbrew Productions present Die Diana, a dark comedy exploring the afterlife of Princess Diana which, as we approach the 20th anniversary of her death next year, sees three people lay claim to her title, each with their own take on what really happened. Part homage and part horror show, the cast features Dan Wallace (aka drag performer Anna Phylactic), Emily Heyworth and Ciaran Wilson.
29 Jun-6 Jul, Bandit, Mugger & Thief, 7.30pm, £8-£10
DJ, author and all-round Manchester cultural icon Dave Haslam heads up The Greater Manchester Culture Debate, exploring last year’s essay on how culture comes from the streets, and that we are in danger of focussing our money and marketing on high profile institutions at the expense of supporting local, maverick, creative talent.
In Millionaires Anonymous, a new dark comedy by Stewart McDonald, six lottery winners have lost their millions and find themselves in group therapy to learn about how money doesn’t buy happiness – except, what their therapist doesn’t know is that they all think that’s a load of bollocks, and have joined together in a syndicate to try and hit the jackpot once more.
1-3 Jul, Salford Arts Theatre, 7.30pm, £8-£10
Despite claims of a self-imposed two-year retirement from stand up, comedian, actor and writer Robin Ince returns with Fury, Joy and Digressions. This, one of just seven solo shows this year, promises to be his last show until 2018, and while he may have proven himself a little fickle with such guarantees, we suggest you don’t stick around to see if he’s bluffing.
12 Jul, Soup Kitchen, 8pm, £8
In Dear Daughter, Ria Lina plans ahead for the hypothetical circumstance in which she can’t watch her daughter grow up, recording all of the advice that she wants her to know just in case. Told as a dark comedy, this precautionary tale promises to be uplifting, moving and amusing.
4-5 Jul, King’s Arms, 9pm, £6-£7.50
Porno Chic tells the story of the iconic stars of Deep Throat, the 70s flick that changed the porn industry big time. Written and directed by Craig Hepworth and Adele Stanhope, this one sees Harry Reems (Richard Allen) and Linda Lovelace (Celine Constantinides) as they take on alcoholism, fame, rejection, domestic abuse, sex, the US government… and, of course, their own rise and fall.
6-9 Jul, King’s Arms, 7.30pm, £10-£11
[The Chamber of Beheaded Queens]
Another set in a fictional afterlife, new one-act play The Chamber of Beheaded Queens plays out an imagined encounter between four of history's most well-known beheaded queens: Anne Boleyn, Mary Queen of Scots, Catherine Howard and Marie Antoinette. Written by KT Parker, directed by Kate O'Leary and starring an all-female cast, it's a compelling tale of unfinished business.
26-30 Jul, Chapter One Books, 7pm, £6-£8
Mother's Ruin presents Mother's Bloomers
Trailblazing queer platform Mother's Ruin presents the latest edition of Mother's Bloomers, an evening of innovative and bold new work hosted by the darkly comedic storyteller Fat Roland, who's joined by Trish Dee, Greg Thorpe, Violet Blonde, Marilyn Misandry, Kommander Karl, Lill Queen, Eva Serration and Diva Hollywood.
22 Jul, King's Arms, 7pm, £4-£6
The award-winning Magpie Man Theatre present Autopsy, the visceral follow-up to last year’s offering, Mouth. Stitching together 10 stories that explore our own bodies and flesh, the production combines physical theatre, dance and contemporary movement to delve into gender, sexuality and self-harm.
12-15 Jul, Salford Arts Theatre, 7.30pm, £8-£10
[I'm standing next to you]
Exploring why we feel isolated in a world that’s never been more connected, I’m standing next to you invites audiences to hear the stories of four people struggling with modern city life, in this immersive production by From the Mill Theatre Company that’ll probably hit home pretty hard to some of the disillusioned, city-dwelling millennials out there.
2, 9 & 16 Jul, Twenty Twenty Two, 2pm & 7pm, £4-5
The debut play from emerging playwright Helen Jeffrey, The Brink is a one-woman show depicting one woman’s spiral into postnatal illness, based on first-hand experience of when people feel entirely prepared for motherhood, only to find that things don’t always go to plan.
23 Jul, King’s Arms, 8pm, £6.50-£8.50
[Norris and Parker]
Skinny favourites Norris and Parker return with their new show, See You at the Gallows, a dark, sordid and ridiculous evening of sketches, characters and songs. Considering the success of their previous show, All Our Friends are Dead, you should count yourself lucky that you've got not one but two chances to catch their latest stuff at the beginning and end of the festival... i.e. go to both?
6 Jul, 3 Minute Theatre, 8pm, £7; 21 Jul, King's Arms, 7.30pm, £6
[The Last Memory]
It feels like mental degradation as we grow older is, for most of us, inevitable, making it one of the most poignant topics (apart from Brexit, we’re guessing) out there today. The Last Memory by Alan Stockdill is inspired by real life, following Ernest and his daughter Lynne as he is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. All process will go to the Alzheimer’s Society.
5-6 Jul, The Swan, 8pm, £10
Join Mancunian music icon Steve ‘The Adj’ Atherton and musician, writer and broadcaster John Robb for an evening discussing the former’s forthcoming autobiography, The Evolution of Manc.
Check out the full programme at www.greatermanchesterfringe.co.uk