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Midwinter Ignition (Manchester)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Venue: 3 Minute Theatre
Where: Manchester

The latest production from Organised Chaos comprises a series of short plays and monologues. It is an ambitious project and while some of the plays are not fully realised others show potential for further development.

Writer Mark Till discreetly provides enough clues to enable the audience to guess the twist in A Fairytale in Manchester. But despite the potentially powerful subject matter the play lacks drama and Melissa Anne Ward’s direction is uninspired. Edward Rowland, as Eddie, lacks the vulnerability that might make the character attractive or the agitation of someone on the edge of violence.

Lynn Pegler’s The Seeds of War shows the human cost of a far-away conflict. She skilfully uses convincing detail for the bureaucratic nightmare Sophie (Dolly-Rose Campbell) endures trying to prove her late soldier lover was the father of her child. Melissa Anne Ward’s imaginative use of different scenes and time periods successfully widens the scale of the monologue. Dolly-Rose Campbell has the steely determination and inner strength that enables Sophie to cope with her trials and actually come out stronger. Unfortunately the brevity of the play requires a ‘deus ex machina’ to secure an ending.

There is a nicely flirtatious relationship between Adam Deane and Maia Terra in Deal? No Deal? But the play loses focus as writer Robert Pugg also builds in a debate on the morality of recreational drug use.

Science fiction requires so much exposition it is hard to present on-stage. Writer Sarah Grace Logan describes a fascinating society where several personalities share a single body and one such Consortium has to investigate which of its components might be a murderer. The success of the play is very much dependent upon Hayley Gowland’s ability to switch between three people with different mannerisms and accents. But the play is brought to an abrupt end without really examining the terror of considering ending your own existence.

Hogamastide by Cath Nichols is pretty much a one-joke play –told from the point of view of animals that perceive pig farming as alien abductions. The production is uneven with only one cast member – Patrycja Halina Oprawko - taking the trouble to portray animal mannerisms.

In Gregory Skulnick’s The Angel devoted Christian Celia (Maia Terra) is shocked to find the Afterlife is one in which actions have no consequences and there is no judgement of other people . She develops an unexpected relationship with her guardian Leo (Adam Deane). It is a hugely entertaining play with Deane’s suitably otherworld character and Terra’s delusional and increasingly desperate Celia.

The evening comes to a close with the perfectly chosen, and collaboratively developed, Yuletide Override. Martin Henshell writes a perceptive but gently amusing look at the importance of family at Christmas. There is excellent dialogue – Christmas, for those of a certain age, is like ‘Watching a clown die.’  Peter M. George’s laid-back slothful delivery contrasts with the restrained hysteria of Andrew Grogan. In an audacious touch Ian Curley performs largely off-stage offering his terse dismissals of the festivities from inside a garden shed.The fun lies in deciding which of the characters best represents your view of the festivities..
- Dave Cunningham


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