Fancy a pint at the local?
Local. Never had one.
Living my 'Local' dreams vicariously through Eastenders' The Vic and The Rovers Return on the cobbles of Coronation Street, the closest I got was a few bars at University, which in hindsight meant they were temporary locals. Shame.
Life is a cruel mistress.
I'd heard on the grapevine (Mothers pal) that the Royal Exchange offer the front row seats (unsure of technical term) at a snip for £9 on the day you wish to view. I twisted a darling friends arm and was confronted once more with the pure theatre in the round.
Is that a bar? A bar? Engraved with the heads of Elvis, Marylin (I assume) and one or two other 'greats', coupled with a sensational chandelier made from pint pots. This certainly created a pub-like atmosphere, right down to the sodden, 70's paisley carpet.
From the very first audible footstep, the duo Justin Moorhouse and Victoria Elliot were captivating. Populating no less than 14 characters between them, they placed the audience on an emotional rollercoaster that magnified life's passing moments into short blasts of passionately charged monologues and exchanges.
Centering the characters are the publican and landlady, acting as the neutral to the gears of the rest of the cards they epitomise everything I'd imagined, elements of Alfie Moon and Liz McDonald with a strong late 80s/ early 90's vibe. Kicking it old-school; before wine bars were acceptable, before cocktails were consumed outside of holidaying and before bar snacks included anything but peanuts and crisps. Nostalgic but relevant.
From turbulent domestic abuse to two apparently unhinged characters finding unrequited love, the 90 minutes zipped by at lightening speed as we were exposed to meaningful moments of individuals we've all noticed though perhaps not engaged with.
I found it compelling how Jim Cartwright exonerates those who blend into a pub-scene, the extras. It was light, engaging and celebrated the typically British 'local' tradition.
It's on til February the 25th. I couldn't recommend it more. The quality of the acting is exemplary, and the participation (don't be put off) is amusing to say the least. Noted as resembling a 'Cheetham Hill girl-band' was a particular highlight.
Booking information here.