After the past year, it feels really nice to finally be able to write about what theatre is available to watch across Manchester, as venues are finally allowed to open their doors and allow audiences back inside their auditoriums once more.
Although all theatres have to comply with the government’s strict social distancing measures, it’s perfectly natural to feel nervous about attending indoor performances, so there’s plenty on this list for everyone. Whether open air or online, it’s still possible to support the local theatre community without having to go into any physical buildings.
Until August 2021
By far the most exciting cultural event to have happened in Manchester for the past year is HOME’s brand new, innovative outdoor performance space, Homeground. Hosting outdoor dining tables, street food vendors, and bars, it’s the perfect place to soak up some sunshine and enjoy some of the fantastic events on offer.
Its stages are showcasing everything from live stand-up comedy, to live music (ACTUAL!!! LIVE!! MUSIC!!!), DJ sets, poetry reading, and live theatre performances. Homeground definitely gives First Street a festival vibe which is infectious after so long indoors!
A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be running from 3rd – 26th June and has a fantastic cast, including the ever brilliant David Judge, recently seen at HOME in his phenomenal one man show, Sparkplug. This riotous revival of Shakespeare’s classic is definitely worth checking out. Tickets are £10 for adults and £5 for children, and tickets can be booked via HOME’s website. Each group will be allocated a separate table, so social distancing will apply.
If you want to visit Homeground for some food or drinks, I highly recommend booking in advance because they have a strict capacity, so you’re not guaranteed entry without a booking.
5th & 6th June 2021.
When I heard about this, I had to include it in this list because Elysium Theatre Company produce some of the best theatre I have ever seen. Therefore, I know Endgame will be good before I even watch it. Directed by Jake Murray, the play also features my favourite actor, Danny Solomon whose astonishing performances in Danny and the Deep Blue Sea and Playland blew me away.
Samuel Beckett’s Endgame is a darkly comic variation on Waiting for Godot. In a devastated world, Hamm, his parents, and his servant must work out their lives, either waiting for the end, or starting a fresh beginning in a refuge.
Laced with Beckett’s poetic genius, verbal brilliance and crazy comic sense, Endgame is a wonderfully entertaining meditation on life and death, love and cruelty, family, relationships, hope and despair.
For further information, or to book tickets, please click here.
5th – 20th June 2021
Danny is a young man, waiting to be let into heaven. There seems to be some difficulty about it, but Judy Garland reassures him as she passes by in a boat full of stars. Away from the dreamlike and unexpected version of the afterlife, the people who were closest to Danny struggle with his death from AIDS.
His partner, Connor, is flattened by grief and is groping awkwardly towards a new relationship. Connor’s brother and his wife find their new marriage overshadowed by the hole Danny’s absence has left in their lives. Danny’s mother, Beryl, is now in a mental hospital and being updated by Judy Garland about her son’s progress towards heaven.
Hushabye Mountain reveals a world that has learned to live with AIDS. It is a world full of love, pain, laughter and friendship, where drugs in their various combinations are exhilarating, destructive, costly and even life restoring.
Starring Matt Henry as Lee, Jodie Prenger as Beryl, Layton Williams as Connor, Nathan McMullen as Danny, Amy Dunn as Lana and Harrison Scott-Smith as Ben.
Tickets cost between £15 and £17 and can be booked via Hope Mill Theatre’s website.
15th June 2021
This romantic melodrama, inspired by a true story from the French Revolution, speaks to our times with its themes of isolation, liberty and humanity.
Fidelio is actually Leonore, a noblewoman disguised as a boy in search of her husband, Florestan, who has been unjustly imprisoned by tyrannical political opponent Don Pizarro. Fidelio secures a job as a prison guard and sets in motion a chain of events in which she must risk everything to save her husband’s life.
This concert version of Fidelio was a huge audience and critical success when streamed last year, so it will be wonderful to experience it live in person, with an orchestra. It will be performed to socially distanced audiences.
Opera North also have a gala concert the following night, on the 16th June. You can get tickets to Fidelio and A Night at the Opera from The Lowry’s website, which also includes full details of their social distancing measures.
23rd June – 17th July 2021
Bloody Elle is the first live production of Bryony Shanahan and Roy Alexander Weise‘s tenure as joint artistic directors of the Royal Exchange Theatre. And they’re definitely starting it with a bang!
Making its world premiere, Bloody Elle is a brand new gig musical written and performed by the formidable Lauryn Redding (who broke my heart into a thousand pieces with her performance in The Hired Man in 2019).
It is a heart-warming, funny, and uplifting one-woman show about falling in love for the first time, and is set to an original score, designed to transport the audience back to when gigs were allowed.
In addition to live performances, the Royal Exchange are also hoping to produce a live stream of the show. You can find further details or book tickets from the website of the Royal Exchange Theatre.
24th – 26th June 2021
With a title like this, The Greatest Play in the History of the World certainly has huge expectations to deliver, but being written by Ian Kershaw and starring the ever amazing Julie Hesmondhalgh, I don’t doubt it for a minute!
A man wakes in the middle of the night to discover that the world has stopped. Through the crack in his bedroom curtains he can see no signs of life at all…other than a light in the house opposite where a woman in an over-sized Bowie T-shirt stands, looking back at him.
The Greatest Play in the History of the World is a universal love story that celebrates the human race in all its glorious messiness, confusion and joy.
Currently, all tickets for this show have sold out.