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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Venue: The Lowry

Where: Salford Quays

NewUpNorth Theatre company have redeveloped Ella Hickson's 2008 Fringe show Eight for a Northern audience and, after a run in the West End and New York, the show now comes to the Lowry.

The play is eight monologues based upon interviews and discussions with twenty-somethings intent on showing the apathy they feel in today's world, and offering a glimmer of faith amidst the cynicism. Mostly, though, they simply come over as young people with a very odd attitude to life.

The opening monologue is vaguely promising. Peter Hunt as Andre, a gay art gallery owner who discovers the body of his lover after suicide, has a story that looks like it could develop into interesting social comment; but it ends up repetitive and loses its impact.

Next, Jude (Ryan Greaves), a seventeen year old who goes to a language school in France and ends up obsessed with, and finally bedding, his ageing landlady: this is more sensitively written, but still ends up feeling rather flat.

Third comes Mona (Sophia Hatfield), a pregnant teenager who tells the story of running away from her bohemian mother, to find what she believes to be love and faith in a dark stranger, who then leaves her expecting her baby. Despite all this we fail to feel any sympathy for her character.

The fourth monologue is Tim Dann's Miles, a man fortunate enough to escape the 7/7 bombs in London but who uses it as an excuse for two years of debauched living. Yet again, a character which could be likeable, is so shallow as to seem unworthy of any emotion from the audience.

Of the next three scenes - Elizabeth Lowe's Astrid, a woman coming back to the home she shares with her partner after spending the night with her lover; Danny (Thomas McGarva), an ex-soldier suffering from post traumatic stress; and Wendy Patterson's Millie, an ageing prostitute obsessed with keeping her gentlemen friends protected in their worlds - none really stand up to more than a cursory examination of their motives.

The final monologue, Scarlett Mack's Bobby, finally shows some optimism, with a young single mother determining to make Christmas special for her children. This did at least mean that the evening ended with a positive feel after all the negative emotions earlier.

All the actors work well with the material, and director Katie Lewis strives to make it feel like a piece of theatre, which unfortunately is not easy: it ends up feeling like a series of disjointed stories, the majority of which have no real purpose in being told.

-Helen Jones


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