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JB Shorts 6 (Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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The basement of Joshua Brooks pub on Princess Street is once again home to JB Shorts. Now in its sixth season, the evening retains its winning formula of six short plays by top TV writers from Coronation Street, Emmerdale and EastEnders.

This time there are twists and turns galore in a line-up which covers topics as varied as domestic abuse, political corruption, futuristic worlds, resident’s associations, same-sex marriage and a modern day Dr Faustus.

Aftershock by Lindsay Williams throws us into the middle of a disaster scene to find two strangers trapped under the rubble. It is a powerful piece with compelling performances from Flo Wilson and Simon Trinder, exploring survival instinct in its many senses.

Another highlight is Weeds, a hilarious window onto the world of three very different personalities living in the same block of flats, from Coronation Street writer, Debbie Oates. There is no weak link in this innovative combination. Some of the plays are more rounded than others and at times it can feel as if the endings haven’t quite been worked through. But the beauty of the 15-minute format is that you can give a snap-shot, without worrying where the bigger picture is going.

In all, JB Shorts is a playground for those usually working under the pressures of the nation’s favourite soaps to let their imaginations run and try out new material. At only £6 a ticket, getting an up close glimpse of how they work is an opportunity too good to miss.

JB Shorts 6 is at Joshua Brooks until Saturday 22 October.

- Carmel Thomason


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