Human Habitation

Rob Johnston
Pure: Blue, Printworks, Manchester
24:7 Theatre Festival

Human Habitation

Human Habitation must surely have the largest stage set of the festival, as Catherine Vernon's design recreates the inside of a tiny bedsit complete with cut-off walls, bed, dining table and a sink with working taps in this small, temporary theatre in Pure night club.

Michael, from Blackpool, moves into a new area, in a crime-ridden area of Manchester, after coming out of an institution where he was being treated for various mental health problems. Frank works for the landlord who owns these tiny flats and he helps Michael to settle in. John is a local gangster who shows an interest in Michael, but Frank feels protective towards his new tenant.

This is a nice, gentle piece with a lot of funny lines in the good-natured banter between Frank and Michael that discusses mental health and some other issues in a fairly relaxed, matter-of-fact way. The characters of Frank and Michael are played superbly by Mike Woodhead and Ben Worth, but John McElhatton's John comes over as a bit of a cartoon villain, and it's questionable whether the character needs to appear at all.

This is a charming, gently-humorous piece that touches on some potentially contentious issues. It does lack some depth and builds up expectations of danger that are never explored, but it remains interesting and entertaining throughout.

Reviewer: David Chadderton