1. A science-fiction, comic-strip world brought brilliantly to life.
It was originally created for the Judge Dredd-starring sci-fi comic magazine 2000AD in the mid-1980s. The Lass O’Gowrie’s new adaptation of the first two books in the saga has, through careful use of an excellent cast and minimal resources, already gained acclaim as “the greatest and most honest interpretation of an Alan Moore comic” as described by the reviewer “Increased Leisure Citizen” at www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk – the Manchester fringe theatre scene thus succeeding where Hollywood has expensively, and repeatedly (From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V for Vendetta, Watchmen) failed.
2. An iconic feminist heroine incarnated on stage.
Reacting against the generally violent and “boys-y” world of 2000AD, Moore and artist Ian Gibson set out to create a realistic female lead character to inspire (and attract) a female readership. The result was “51st century girl next door”, Halo Jones – an ordinary girl living on “the Hoop”, a hi-tech, floating slum tethered near a far-future Manhattan, where life never progresses beyond the day-to-day routine of soap operas, living on state credit and the occasional shopping trip – if the mall is free of rioters, that is.
3. A story still relevant to our age.
Halo’s world is one of post-economic collapse, where the gap between rich and poor is wider than ever – and joblessness means instant and merciless exile to the hopeless Hoop. The government of “the United Municipalities of America” soothes its underclass by dowsing them with cheap electronic entertainment and handouts of meagre credit in place of any attempt at social cohesion or real engagement. To Halo, there seems to be no solution other than simply getting out. Her world is not too far removed from our own.
4. A shining, Manchester-based production and cast.
With a uniformly superb cast, The Ballad of Halo Jones stars 14 of Manchester’s brightest actors, many of them playing multiple roles to flesh out the eccentric and unpredictable society of the 51st century. Already one of Manchester’s most treasured entertainment pubs, the Lass O’Gowrie is making a name for itself in pioneering, eclectic fringe theatre through its in-house production company, Lass O’Gowrie Productions (having recently produced stage adaptations of Jack Rosenthal’s Hot Fat and his Coronation Street 1968 scripts). Halo Jones is a collaboration with science fiction theatre company Scytheplays who last year co-produced Kevin Cuffe’s highly acclaimed black comedy The Say Can Blues (“clever, funny and stylish – with panache and subtlety” – Mark Dickinson, Large Manchester).
5. Last chance to see…
After its smash-hit run at the Lass earlier in January, The Ballad of Halo Jones is returning for one day only on Wednesday February 1st – the final day of Midwinter Lassfest. Performance times are at 3pm, 5.30pm and 8.15. At £10 for a two-hour show, it remains great value for money, and it’s a unique dramatic experience which is unlikely to return to Manchester anytime soon, so catch it while you can!
The Ballad of Halo Jones is at the Lass O'Gowrie on 1st February.