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

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border