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The Transit of Venus (24:7 Theatre Festival - Manchester)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Venue: New Century House
Where: Manchester

Sometimes plays have themes that are far from universal, an interest of the subject matter is imperative, and if the play does not have themes that can be enjoyed by all, it comes down the writer to bring the audience in to the piece, sadly The Transit of Venus is a hard sell to those of us who do not have an interest in the subject matter.
The show tells the story of Astronomers, William Crabtree and Jeremiah Horrocks in 1639 that witness the first transit of Venus (an event  that takes place when the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth), but with civil unrest creeping closer it threatens to wipe out their achievement and more dangerously put the men in jeopardy.
The strange thing about the show is that it has so much going for it, the writing is smart and crisp, the directing is polished and the cast are wonderful. The play’s downfall however is that so much time is spent talking about astronomy, religion and mathematics that an emotional connection to the piece is lost. This sadly means the last 15 minutes which are supposed to pack a powerful punch are almost devoid of emotion.
That’s not to say that the play is not enjoyable. The writer Eric Northey has wonderful flair for dialogue and is able to construct a play that moves with ease (however the lighting could do with a little attention). His passion for the subject matter is very clear, it’s just a shame that the same attention has not been paid to the human element as the story could be wonderful and comes so close.
The casting is perfect throughout and they deliver Northey’s dialogue with passion and commitment. Lucy Ward is superb as Jenny, a beautiful delicate performance that injects the humanity that is very much needed. Nathan Morris also impresses as the mathematical loving Horrocks bringing humour to the role. All the cast work incredibly well and the director Alyx Tole deserves praise for putting such a fantastic ensemble together.
The Transit of Venus has much to recommend, it’s just a shame that at the moment it’s good when it could be great.

- Craig Hepworth


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