Canal Street Online Manchester

Shed at Royal Exchange

Shed at Royal Exchange

Feb 2024

In a world premiere, the Royal Exchange’s latest production is the 2019 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting winner Shed: Exploded View. Written by Phoebe Eclair-Powell, this hard-hitting production focuses on three couples over a period of 30 years. In a Guardian interview Eclair-Powell comments that her script offers “one order in which the scenes can work. The scenes each have titles, so that, if the director and actors wanted to, they could reorder the scenes to fit their production.”

The opening set is a single shed centre stage. A shed that is steadily dismantled by the cast to reveal its contents. Whether director Atri Banerjee worked the script in the original order, or took the opportunity to shuffle, what follows is a series of short scenes from random years that slowly reveal the histories and connections of the characters. Screens displaying the year of the playing scene help guide the audience through the haphazard moments, easing the disorientation of ever rapid time changes. Naomi Dawson’s staging is stripped back – 3 plain black revolving concentric circles; the name of each scene chalked on the floor by one of the characters as it’s played out.

Three generational couples are played by a faultless cast. The young Mark (Michael Workéyè) and Abi (Norah Lopez Holden); the young to middle-aged Frank (Jason Hughes) and Naomi (Lizzy Watts); and the older Tony (Wil Johnson) and Lil (Hayley Carmichael). Each story is intertwined with the other, phrases echoed and repeated synchronously across the age divide. From the start of life to the inevitable end, this is a creatively written play, stunningly played out to a captivated audience.

This powerful, thought-provoking production is the Royal Exchange at its best - a must-see piece of theatre.

Garry Thomas- Lowde for Canal St Media

Royal Exchange Theatre: Feb 9th – Mar 2nd, 2024 TICKETS

Published: 16-Feb-2024 (7386)

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