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A packed Manchester fringe returns

Updated: Nov 11, 2023


Outdoor dance in Oriente Plus / Power Cut: A Caribbean Story by Pedro de Senna
Outdoor dance in Oriente Plus / Power Cut: A Caribbean Story by Pedro de Senna

Greater Manchester Fringe returns for the whole month of July with more than 100 shows at venues around the city region.

The arts festival offers a launch pad for new talent and writing from around the world, hosts touring shows and provides warm-up slots for shows heading to the Edinburgh Fringe.

Among the many highlights will be a Caribbean Gothic story of diaspora, culture, family, and ancestors, Oriente Plus/Power Cut: A Caribbean Story by Pedro De Senna, which will be performed in British sign language, English and Spanish outside in Manchester's Whitworth Gallery courtyard on July 20.

Oriente Plus/ Power Cut by Pedro De Senna is an outdoor show, told through poetry, movement, song and live music. BSL is embedded in the show, making it engaging for hearing and non-hearing audiences alike.

Deaf actor and artistic director David Bower, who founded inclusive arts company Signdance Collective with his Cuban-born partner, Isolte Avila, 36 years ago, said, "Art is accessible to everyone. We all have something of value to contribute to humanity's cultural journey."

Isolte said: "The audience can learn sign language while learning how to salsa! The show is really fun and then shifts when something happens."

Leo Mercer and Stephen Hyde return to the Fringe after two sold-out shows with The Coffee Shop Musical, starring Manchester's SIX star, Harriet Caplan-Dean (Northern Quarter cafe Takk, July 5-6).

New musical Ballast looks at what would happen if the oilfields of America dried up and the casts of Dallas and Dynasty bought up Wythenshawe. Company Stage Squad started as a performance group within Greater Manchester Police, but is now based in The Squad House in Stockport's Pear Mill, where Ballast will be performed on July 14-15.

Enough is a new, two-woman play in the wake of the Sarah Everard murder, about misogyny, sexism and predatory behaviour towards members of the public and female colleagues in UK police forces (July 11-12, King’s Arms, Salford).

What Happened to Connie Converse? (July 24-26, King’s Arms) speculates on the events leading up to the real-life disappearance of aspiring singer-songwriter Connie Converse in America in the 1970s. The play features LGBTQ+, mental health issues and... live music.

Sacrament (July 5-7, Seven Oaks pub, Manchester), written by Martin Thomasson and starring Julie Hall, is a one-woman play about the central character's new friendship with Jesus.

Manchester writer Mike Heath looks at people wanting to escape the UK and stay on holiday forever in Les & Ali's Big Balearic Adventure, with Nicole Evans (of The Bay and Hollyoaks) and Darren John Langford (Spencer Gray in Hollyoaks) on July 12-14, again at the Kings Arms, Salford.

Arisha-Jane Marsh presents her OK Cabaret: An Operatic Extravaganza on July 19 at Sonata Piano & Cabaret Lounge in Manchester. It's about being a homeless, transgender trainee opera singer stuck in Oklahoma during lockdown. This autobiographical musical revue will raise money for Trans Mutual Aid Fund Manchester.

The Pride of Pripyat: Tales from Chernobyl (July 1-2 at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation) is a genre-bending blend of cabaret and opera.

Germany-based Latin band Yerba Colora bring energetic live music (July 26-30) with shows at The Fitzgerald and the King’s Arms. Gospel singer Blossom Cherry brings new interpretations to Beyonce, Rhianna, and Jessie J to The Fitzgerald and Sonata Piano and Cabaret Lounge (July 9-18).

Outside In (July 25-26 at Gullivers Lounge) is written and performed by Ilaria Passer, who recently published Tales of a Confused Life. Producer Micheal Jacob is a former creative head of mainstream comedy at BBC Television.

Making It Up (One Playwright to Another) is an online digital production running for whole month. It won the Bring Your Own Digital Venue Award at Hamilton Fringe.

Where do you go when your idols let you down? Award-winning stand-up comedian Sian Davies presents This Charming Man (July 15, King’s Arms) taking a journey through The Smiths, masculinity and gender, via Salford Lads Club. Sian won the Edinburgh Festival comedy awards panel prize in 2022 for best in class.

As seen on BBC1 and NextUp Comedy, neurodivergent performer Rachel Creeger is the Ultimate Jewish Mother in her interactive comedy show (July 3-4, Whitefield Garrick. Rachel co-hosts international chat show podcast Jew Talkin' To Me?, and Neighbours podcast Leaving Erinsborough.

Dallas in Wythenshawe in Ballast
Dallas in Wythenshawe

Award-winning Stephen Catling presents Beehavioural Problems (July 21-22, King’s Arms) about his previous job in animal testing as an autistic person, with sketches on a panda game-show host, a religious dog, a scientifically-accurate rendition of the little mermaid... and a sexy bee.

John Hewer returns to Greater Manchester Fringe with Just Like That! The Tommy Cooper Show on the afternoon of July 22 at Squad House.

Spoken word shows include Rant in Iambic Pentameter from award-winning podcaster and poet Daniel J McLoughlin (July 3, The Fitzgerald. Michelle Eagleton presents An Audience with Stars of Stage and Screen, featuring Coronation Street and West End Star Jodie Prenger; BAFTA award-winning writer and co-creator of BBC's Early Doors, Phil Mealey, and Rita, Sue & Bob Too and Goodnight Sweetheart actress Michelle Holmes (July 6, Sonata Piano and Cabaret Lounge), with all proceeds for Prevent Breast Cancer.

Family shows include Ahoy! Balled of the Time Kraken (July 28-29, Salford Arts Theatre); Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist dame Mama G in a Saturday matinee of her family show The Magic Bookmark (July 16, Salford Arts Theatre).

There are of course very many more.

Full details and tickets here

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