Premières in Manchester fringe festival

David Upton

Premières of new work by local writers and performers will be showcased at the second Greater Manchester Fringe Festival in July—including plays about a girls' football team, diabetic penguins and Joy Division.

The Greater Manchester Fringe has grown from the grass roots without any big money backing as a result of venues in Salford and Manchester getting together.

This year’s venues include Apotheca, Band On The Wall, Briton’s Protection, Fab Café, King’s Arms, Lass O’Gowrie, the Salford Arms, Taurus, Three Minute Theatre, Tiger Lounge and Town Hall Tavern.

Premières of new dramas include Suspended In Space by Keith Temple (EastEnders, Emmerdale, Casualty, Dr Who) on Monday July 8 and New Dawn Fades: The Story of Joy Division by Brian Gorman, directed by Oldham’s Neil Bell (Downton Abbey and Coronation Street) on Monday July 15.

Manchester-based Colin Connor, who recently directed The Best by Jack Rosenthal, is back as a writer with his new play Meanwhile at the Lass O’Gowrie (July 2-4) about a women’s football team in Ireland, with an original score composed by Mark Simpson.

Meanwhile is set in Belfast 1981, a hostile environment where fighting on the streets and an intimidating military presence is commonplace. However all that the girls in The Dalebrook Torpedoes FC can think about is winning their next game. It stars Dickie Patterson, who was a hit playing George Best.

Hand Over Fist at the Town Hall Tavern in Manchester (July 2-4) is a darkly humorous and delicately warming play about Alzheimer’s, lost love, sexual attraction and the atomic fist of a baby.

Brand new drama includes Diabetic Penguins (July 5-7 at the Lass O’Gowrie) the first full-length play from by Jess Lee, who is only 21. It’s set in a teenage mental health ward and stars John Bulwich, who played ‘Orrible Harris in Porridge.

Louise Twomey, Kate Henry and Deborah Brian have reformed for Greater Manchester Fringe to present their play 3 Gobby Cows at Taurus (July 6 and 7). Other highlights in the first week include comedy from Smug Roberts at the King’s Arms in Salford on July 3. Straight afterwards is James Mullinger, whose stand-up show sold out every date on a national tour.
Ben Moor on Thursday 4 July at the King’s Arms presents three linked stories about love, friendship and human connection in times where the main certainty seems to be uncertainty.

Festival director Lisa Connor said: “Fringe is experimental. It is all about encouraging new talent and with more than 100 shows in 11 venues in Manchester and Salford there is something for everyone: drama, comedy, music, spoken word and sci-fi sock puppets!