Murder on the dancefloor

Rachel Austin (Allegra) and Leah Hackett (Evie) in Manchester Sound: The Massacre
Rachel Austin (Allegra) and Leah Hackett (Evie) in Manchester Sound: The Massacre
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Manchester Sound: The 
Massacre – Somewhere in the city

Ghosts from Manchester’s past haunt all five storeys of a city centre building in this bold imaginative piece of 
theatre.

It’s the latest, and maybe the last site-specific performance from the Library theatre company, before they settle into their new Home venue next year.

On this showing, it would be a shame if their productions got too domesticated.

This time, audiences assemble on a car park before being led by cast members on a short walk through the Northern Quarter, to an 
‘illegal rave’ in a Victorian garment building.

Inside, the sights and equally lurid sounds are set for a re-creation of Manchester’s 1980s dance scene. But this play stretches imagination to the limit by paralleling it all with the city’s Peterloo Massacre of 1819. It’s not such a culture clash as you’d fear, as ‘Party Political’ takes on new meaning. Every credit to writer Polly Wiseman, and director Paul Jepson, forging such an unlikely link between clubland hedonism and a campaign for electoral reform that led to 18 deaths in the heart of the city.

The connections, to do with radicalism and freedom, become gradually evident and Wiseman’s writing creates some engaging encounters between characters from both periods. For once, it’s difficult to see the joins between a professional cast of eight and the two-dozen community company who augment the action.

Technically, it’s also a small triumph, with action spread through building and demanding effective sound and lighting cues around designer Amanda Stoodley’s settings - even projected screen images that allow the cast to walk through. A unique and immersive theatre spectacle that also has a lot to say for itself. It runs till July 6.

by David Upton