Angel Meadow, Home Manchester, review: 'A rollercoaster that crackles with excitement'

3.00

 

This is a production for which the phrase “in your face” might well have been invented.

Wiggling bottoms, flailing fists, whispering lips repeatedly pierce the invisible social exclusion zone within which many of us feel comfortable.

So for those who go the theatre to hide in the dark, Angel Meadow will come as an uncompromising shock to the laws of proxemics.

This hour-long site-specific promenade through the back streets of post-industrial Manchester is however a theatrical roller coaster ride which crackles with a real sense of violence, menace and unsavoury sex.

And by a real sense of violence there are times when you actually think you might be about to be punched. The sex is pretty realistic as well.

That tension is the central achievement of what could otherwise be merely a brutal succession of shock tactics.

Created by Dublin’s ANU Productions, specialists in adventurous site specific theatre, the piece is the opening offering by Home, a new arts organisation formed by the joining up of two of Manchester’s best known arts groups, the Cornerhouse and Library Theatre Company.

Home, of which Danny Boyle is a patron, is to take up residence next year in £25m premises said to be the biggest multi-arts venue created in Britain since the Barbican in London opened in 1982.

In the meantime, artistic director Walter Meierjohann has commissioned a season of works at some of the city’s amazing unused buildings, a device well-established by the International Festival.

The former Edinburgh Castle pub is the setting for this play which seeks to explore the sense of belonging and identity among the Irish community of the Ancoats area of Manchester. 

A derelict  front-room style watering hole favoured by the inkies that toiled at the Daily Express’s Art Deco printworks, abandoned in 1989, provides the location. 

Although not set in any specific time, the play harks back to the mid-19th century when the slums which sprung up around the belching cotton spinning mills were home to a vast population from Kerry, Galway and Limerick.

Life was appalling, as Friedrich Engel noted in the Condition of the Working Class in England when he visited the area in 1845, describing the homes where many slept eight in a bed as “filthy, with damp, unclean, cellar dwellings”.

Pigs ran wild in the street and the open sewers spilled human excrement into the thoroughfares which were knee deep in mud for much of the year. According to Engels it was “the most disgusting spot of all.”

It was violent too, with running-battles between the Irish and Italian emigrants who made the area their own. Today, Ancoats is in the running to be a World Heritage Site and is being redeveloped for urban loft-living trendies. Reminders of its visceral past are welcome although this piece is not for the faint hearted.

To 29 June; 0161 200 1500 or book online

Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
Arts and Entertainment
Crowd control: institutions like New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art are packed

Art
Arts and Entertainment
Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices