Approaching Number One First Street, a brand new glass office block in Manchester City Centre, I did not get the same feeling as when I approach a traditional theatre. In fact, I did wonder if I had got it wrong at first. But I checked my notes, and double-checked the map and no, I wasn’t lost, or at least, I wasn’t… then.
Manchester Lines is the second nomadic Library Theatre Company production, following the closure of the library for refurbishment in 2010. Whilst the company move from place to place (new theatre due to reopen 2014), it was only apt that they be responsible for a show about what is means to be lost.
On the fifth floor, the space in transformed into a lost property office. The audience are invited in to peruse the shelves, and see just what wonders can be lost, from a child’s doll to a coffee maker before taking their seats around the central enquiry desk. As a gatekeeper into another world, The Keeper (John Branwell) introduces us to the spectacular of lost things, and conducts the interaction between characters like a ringmaster. The show has just 8 characters, including The Keeper and the ledger keeper Arnold, who is in fact musician Dominic Harlan who performs live throughout. Each character is introduced in their own right, before the lines begin to connect and paths cross.
The show is 90 minutes, with no interval, and retains its pace consistently throughout. The use of song and dance ensured that all audience have a front row seat in the action. The lyrical music, composed by Errollyn Wallen, is quirky, complex and discordant and keeps you on the edge of your seat, not knowing what will come next.
It is Anne Kidd’s portrayal of Jessie, a woman with dementia, which will blow you away and certainly brought a tear to the eye. Even though she is lost to others, she is not lost to herself, and this is the key line throughout the performance – that we are all living in our own world, but remain connected whether we feel lost or not.
Manchester Lines is on at No.1 First Street until the 7th July 2012 – for more information or to book tickets please click here