I’m not sure exactly when the word “dramedy” entered the popular consciousness of people’s lexicon but it seems that dramedies have been around for a lifetime. Mixing comedy and drama has become vogue and that is certainly the case for the heavyweight production from HOME and the National Theatre of Scotland, Red Dust Road. A play that centres on the memoirs by Scots Makar Jackie Kay, it tells the story of Kay’s journey from being an adoptive mixed race child to her search for her real parents, bringing into sharp focus issues such as race, sexuality and parenthood.
I personally blame Porridge. Their cute array of loveable rogues. Fletcher. Godber. Even the bad guy, Harry Grout, is played with a sentimental kitsch that has the audience guffawing in sentimentality. In fact there’s a whole host of dramas that give prison life a bit of sappy saccharine schmaltz. Think Shawshank Redemption. Green Mile. Heck, even Midnight Express is packed with maudlin idealism. So, when the Jumper Factory comes along, a play about what it really is like to be inside prison, it shatters our dewy-eyed illusions.
Where did the Summer go? It’s been a whirlwind few months that has encapsulated the joys of a typical British season. A cornucopia of malevolent weather, heroic sporting triumphs and a calendar chock-a-block with festivals that cater for every whim and fancy. So, here we are at the start of September and the onset of Autumn, when the nights start to get longer, the days become colder and it all feels less hazy than it once was. Therefore, its with keen feverishness that we welcome Hive City Legacy, currently playing at HOME Manchester, for one last chance to enjoy that feeling that only the Summer months can bring. That outlandish splash of colour, the base-thumping grooving beats and the lyrical machinations that let me have one last chance to be utterly indulgent.
Recently HOME Manchester have been knocking it out of the park. They’ve received rave reviews for their summer festivities, with Incoming and Horizon festivals proving to be a hit with audiences and critics alike. Their latest offering – One Night in Miami – is hoping to be just as popular, which sees the imagined account of a fabled real-life event that sees four icons come together in a downtown Miami motel room.
Incoming Festival 2019 is a celebration of the best emerging theatre companies from the UK and beyond and is currently showcasing a week of shows at Home Manchester. If anything sums up the spirit of this festival then it would be Strictly Arts – a young, black-led theatre company – and their production of Freeman, which examines the unspoken link between mental health and systemic racism. It was an evening of brutality intertwined with beauty that left the audience totally and utterly blown away.