Monkeywood Theatre have been producing plays in the North West for six years. Their recent output is really beginning to get them noticed in Manchester. Their original production, A Song For The Lovers received positive reviews and all eyes are on their latest piece, Maine Road, written by Monkeywood's Sarah McDonald Hughes when it returns to the region in March. The play has already been shortlisted for the Alfred Bradley Bursary Award and received good feedback when it premiered at 24/7 last Summer.

Francesca Waite garnered praise for her role as Jenna in A Song. She plays Donna, a housing officer in Maine Road and like the rest of the monkeys is passionate about theatre.



What's the play about briefly?
Maine Road is a story about a young lad and his family who live near the beloved original ground of Manchester City Football Club, Maine Road. It is set in 2003 when City were playing their last few games at the stadium before it was demolished. Already devastated about his team moving to the other side of the city, Leo is having to come to terms with the possibility of losing everything else that matters most to him.

Tell us about the cast and crew
It’s a cliché to say it but we have got a fantastic company together for this production. Martin (Gibbons) is directing this time, which is working really well and Sarah and I are both performing as well as producing, plus Sarah wrote the script. Marie Critchley plays Leo’s mum and she has worked really extensively, performing onstage in Brassed Off at Oldham Coliseum and Beautiful Thing at the Octagon and also on TV in numerous roles including playing Jim Broadbent’s daughter in The Street! Thomas Aldersley is a freelance drama teacher as well as an actor and he brings great comedy to the role he plays as Leo’s Dad. The experience they both have is amazing and has brought a fantastic dynamic to the production. Last but not least, Leo is being played by 19-year-old Dan Fitzsimons. Our original actor was offered a part in Dr Who that was too good to refuse, but Marie had worked with Dan before at The Arden School of Theatre and recommended him in a heartbeat. We all had faith that Dan was going to be brilliant at 24/7 and he was!  

There's a great deal of theatre to choose from in 2010.  Why should audiences see Maine Road?
Maine Road is really accessible to audiences young and old; Mancunian or not and into football or not. Any die hard City fans just can’t afford to miss it, as I’m sure they’ll know exactly how Leo feels. But even those who hate football (or City!) have a lot to get out of the story. Anyone who has ever felt loyalty to anything, who’s ever lost someone, or been faced with losing the foundations they stand on, will be able to relate the story to themselves. Not only that but there will be amazing performances, brilliant staging, a few good laughs and even maybe a couple of tears.

A Song for the Lovers was well received. Does that put pressure on you all?
Not really, it’s only helped our confidence to know that people are really enjoying Monkeywood’s productions. A Song for the Lovers did even better than we hoped for and we were thrilled when whatsonstage gave us five stars and named us as one of their top productions of 2008! We really believe in Maine Road and in Sarah’s writing, so I'm sure we can keep up the high standards!



Francesca Waite was speaking to Glenn Meads.

Maine Road runs from 18- 20 March at The Lowry.

To find out more about Monkeywood,
click here.