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



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
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine