Unlock Manchester Visitor Guide

Manchester What's On, Entertainment, Tickets and Eating Out Guide

Sunday 19 Nov 2017

[@]Health Under Fire - GM Fringe

The Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, now celebrating its 5th year, happens during July and gives you an opportunity to see new and established talent at venues across the city and further afield. This year saw over 80 productions including shows from the likes of popular comics Phil Jupitus and Mitch Benn alongside many theatre productions, on-offs and events.

Manchester theatres and event spaces are used to deliver the fringe’s programme with the 2015 festival delivering over 300 productions during its month long run. This is certainly a success story and it has become an important ‘space’ for artists to experiment with their productions prior to their Edinburgh Festival debut.

Tonight Unlock Manchester is at Joshua Brooks Bar, on Princess Street, to review Nathan Smith’s ‘Health Under Fire’ described as a Noir spoof, which is heading to the Edinburgh Festival for a 3 week run. Arriving early we sampled the food from the Joshua Brooks Pie menu, which was very good indeed, read our review click here.

‘Health Under Fire’ is set in the early 1950’s, the NHS is still a child trying to find it feet and there are people willing to see it fail, this is the political theme running throughout the plays subtext. You are transported back in time to this era of the National Health Service, and as a reminder Andrew Knowles plays Clement Attlee, dinner jacket clad and pipe smoking, to explain this new NHS concept.

The story opens with our anti-hero detective Arnold Grace (Scott Hodgson) arriving at Manchester Royal Infirmary Hospital where he is tasked with finding whoever is stealing drugs and selling them on the black market.

It is at this point I should mention that the play is full of ‘terrible’ puns and word play, a mechanism that is used to good comedic affect. It is quite rude and some of the 50’s terminology could be taken out of context, but in these enlightened days I think not.

The plot is a mixture of every Noir film you have ever seen and the characters are all flawed and looking out for themselves. The actors deliver their multiple parts with competence and the delivery timing of many of the lines is crucial to the comedy.

With characters drawn from different backgrounds, for example a German and an American, there is even an International Jewel thief ‘Francis Franc Frankland’ lurking somewhere in the background.

It is not for this reviewer to tell you the story or indeed what happens. The play makes use of many effective delivery techniques, look out for the ‘rolling’ corridor scene and some of the ‘quick’ scene changes will no doubt create laughter in their own right.

This play is certainly fun and is a good way to spend a pleasant evening. I think that J.B. Priestly would recognise the use of one of his ideas at the end of Nathan’s funny and entertaining script.

You will find ‘Heath Under Fire’ at the Cafe Camino, Edinburgh from the 8th-29th August 2015 and if you are there check it out.

The company ‘Death by Pie’ are returning to Manchester, at the Manchester Museum, in October to present ‘The Great Star of Africa Diamond’ I wonder what that could be about Wilkie?

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