Off Cut Festival | Manchester

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If you want to see the finest in new short plays where you as an audience member can influence which winners will be offered the opportunity to develop their piece into a fully-staged production with Manchester Actors’ Platform then get yourself down to 53two this week.

For five years, the Off Cut Festival has been one of the UK’s most successful platforms for undiscovered writing, acting and directing talent, the festival now has a new northern home and takes place between 22nd and 25th January.

Over the past few weeks, 15 brand new short plays from writers around the country have been rehearsed and reworked by Manchester’s finest up-and-coming directors and actors, ready to be performed to audiences over three nights. They will be shown over three nights with five plays performed each night, the audience will be asked to vote for their favourite plays each night. The top two from each group will then go through to be performed again on the last day of the festival, Saturday 25th January. The audience will then vote on the plays again alongside a panel of industry professionals who will also be selecting their favourites to decide the winner.

Producer Simon Naylor from Manchester Actors’ Platform and FOUNDation/53two said “OFFCUT fills a hole that has long been empty. It embraces all of the qualities we strive for in independent and fringe theatre and provides the perfect platform to showcase and launch careers alongside celebrating the brilliant spirit and bond that this city has.”

The performances have been broken down into the following groups

22nd Jan – 7:30pm

Home Fires Burning by Kevin Cuffe

Summerland by Brian Coyle

The Fish and the Sea by Jeff Nolan

Born on the Right Side by Maddie Wakeling

Grow by Gemma Langford

 

23rd Jan – 7:30pm

Home by Alexandra Keelan

Best Friends by Lewis Charlesworth

FOMO by Curtis Cole

Here We Are by Anne Price

There’s a Fly in My Room by Rachel McMurray

 

24th Jan – 7:30pm

Tortoise by Naomi Westerman

Tremble by Rob Johnston

To Sleep by Stephanie Lacey

Granola by Gemma Whiteley

Click by Chantelle Dusette

 

GRAND FINAL

25th Jan – 7:30pm

The six plays, chosen by the audience over the previous three nights, are performed again. From them, the winner of the Audience Award for Favourite Play will be developed and fully-staged at 53two.

Tickets are £8 per show

£24 for OFFCUT PASS to all 4 nights

Available here.

Unwaged tickets at £2 available every

The Loves of Others


We’ve all been there, that awkward moment when you witness a couple have blazing row, it could be  friends of yours, or complete strangers, I once saw a couple verbally massacre each other in the snacks and nibbles isle at Tesco  the night before Christmas Eve, it was embarrassing, crass, but most of all entertaining. Well imagine that multiplied by three and the genesis of the latest offering from play write Alex Keelan, The Loves of Others.

Set during two separate dinner parties held a year apart, we are treated to an insight in the lives of 3 couple’s lives: we have the host and hostess of the party Max (Dan Jefferies) Leanne (Alexandra Maxwell), he’s a boozy hangover from the ‘Loaded’ generation, and she’s Hyacinth Bucket only on Facebook. There are Tina (Amy Forrest) and her partner Dave (William J Holstead), she has a few confidence issues, and he’s a bit laid back to deal with them. Finally there is Vic (Alice Proctor) and Ike (Kyle Walker), she’s strong willed and feisty, he’s a people pleaser. As both dinner parties continue, relationships become more fractured, friendships and boundaries are pushed to the limit.


The script is a fine blend of acerbic put downs, and on point observations, whilst at times dealing with dark subjects including abuse, grief and prejudice Whilst some may feel dissatisfied with the rather abrupt ending, I rather enjoyed that the play left it’s characters dealing with their issues as opposed to resolving them: like a snapshot into their world.

There are fine solid performances throughout from all 6 actors: however I find that none of their characters were particular likeable, just as you begin warming to one of them, they’ll do or say something that will just grate on you. Director Kayleigh Hawkins certainly works her cast hard; with full costume and scene changes throughout neither which detract from the story. There is no interval either so the play never loses momentum allowing the lighter moments to shine through, whilst enabling the tension build and the mood to darken.


The promotional material claims The Loves of Others to be “A Modern Northern Abigail’s Party”, which will certainly draw in the punters, but may also mean that the two could be unfairly compared. This is a funny, brave, ambitious, and at times miserable look at modern British life, a hark back to the Great British kitchen sink dramas, only replacing the kitchen sink with a selfie, and a bottle of vino!