Canal Street Online Manchester

The Gap at Hope Mill Theatre

The Gap at Hope Mill Theatre

GAP, at Hope Mill Theatre, is running until March 9th which allows plenty of time to book for a theatrical triumph. It’s a two hander, starring Matthew Kelly and Denise Welch – neither of whom will need much introduction – who take both main parts (Walter and Corral) as well as a few side roles.

Let’s clear the decks. Is it good? It’s very good indeed, and we’re taken on a memorial ride (for those of us as are of riper years) where our protagonists crave to break free from their humdrum existence in “The North” and find fame and fortune in London. They do so in spades, and the depiction of the purlieus of Soho in the 1960’s is wonderful.

Without giving too much away, Corral becomes a quality hooker and Walter becomes her maid. Things work out well for them both for a while and they are fêted, though not content with burning the candle at both ends and deciding to take a blowtorch to the middle. It couldn’t and didn’t last, and as the first half closes Corral and Walter part, to her benefit and to his retreat back north. Matt Monroe’s song “Walk Away” has never sounded more poignant.

Part 2 could have begun with the old music hall song “She’s Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage” (it didn’t) as the realities of being kept have sunk in. Corral pines for her former life, and she semi-engineers her release. This isn’t without its traumas, but (again) without giving too much away, the eponymous “GAP” is breached (by the newly available medium of porn/chat lines) , and she and Walter are reunited for a while before the inevitable excesses kick in and they are parted for ever. You’d need a heart of stone not to have a lump in the throat.

All is not doom and gloom though – far from it. The descriptions of Corral’s clients’ fascination for the 4” gap between the stocking top and the knicker elastic brought the house down (as did many other lines) and at the end we were on our feet. It’s an amazing evening.

The production is held up well by a “less is more” set that’s adapted as required. The lighting and projections work nicely, and the musical tracks evoke former times well (and sometimes jerk the emotions savagely). Hope Mill’s auditorium lends an intimacy that larger venues can’t offer too.

All in all, this is a marvellous play. Go.

Paul Schofield for Canal St Media

Tickets.

Published: 15-Feb-2024 (7385)

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