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Entitled (Tour - Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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It was with a certain degree of trepidation that I took my seat for my first ever Quarantine experience. But true to form Entitled didn’t disappoint.

The Salford based theatre company’s unique style aims to blur the distinction between performer and spectator, evoking a curiosity about who we are as people to allow the audience to discover something about themselves. Exploring hope and disappointment and what we do to try to make our lives complete, this new play reveals the technical process of making theatre, and the rapid brutality of taking it away.

The piece begins with Greg Akehurst’s candid explanation about a ‘get in’ — the construction of the performance space — and he litters the stage with technical terminology, explaining how to perform a mark-up, introducing us to a lighting rig and walking us through a sound check whilst the remainder of the cast — all theatre technicians by trade — work in the background.

Introductions to performers are punctuated with comedic interludes and moments of improvisation. The actors address the audience directly and set building and stagecraft is interlaced with poignant moments of intimacy. There are strong performances from Joanne Fong and the emotionally subdued Sonia Hughes but Fiona Wright is particularly memorable as the quietly vulnerable 45-year-old woman who wears her regrets on her sleeve. In a breath of nervous curiosity she asks the audience “If I asked you is my life worth living, what would you say?” “I want to kiss you” was one surprised theatregoer’s response.

And as the cast become more familiar with the audience so the set creeps closer, stopping just inches from the front row which leaves you feeling less like an onlooker and more a part of the performance — an unconventional connection that Quarantine aim to achieve as part of their mantra.

Only the conclusion of the play is disappointing; an overly long exposition of the crew’s future plans and desires whilst they simultaneously deconstruct the set left me wondering why they had left it until the end to deliver such personal insights.

Overall the result is a thoroughly enjoyable education in ‘real theatre’ achieved through infinite complexity, raw performances and quiet reflection.

- Sarah Bloomer


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