Despite numerous recommendations by my wife, I’ve never been to the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester apart from when we stopped there for a cuppa one time when she wooed me by giving me a personalised history tour of Manchester (not kidding, she’s a history buff and I now demand such tours often).
For our first wedding anniversary (paper), I selfishly bought us a pair of tickets to see the theatrical adaptation of Sarah Waters’ The Night Watch.
I know she was excited and a little bit sad that she couldn’t see this with her best friend. An aside, which I hope they both don’t mind me sharing, is the way they met when she was an undergraduate in Manchester and commuting to her job at a tour operator. Theirs, I have to say, is my favourite love story ever. They’d got on the same bus for some time and one day realised they were both reading the same book (The Night Watch), from there conversation started and a shared love of reading and lots of other things (serial killer documentaries to boot) and a decade later hasn’t stopped. Best friend is currently living in Hong Kong and I know she misses him very much, let’s hope he’s back soon and that this play tours and they can see it together (if you’re reading this, it’s more than a subtle hint!)
The theatre, like The Crucible in Sheffield, has excellent view from any seat that you choose. Tickets range in price and there are special discounts for those 25 and under (just missed out there!) and also some cheaper tickets on the day. This theatre is another reason I will always wish I was a Manchester local – I’d be forever checking which tickets I could pick up last minute hoping to catch something I wouldn’t normally! The stage rotates and the stories are told in such a way that they physically intertwine using simple staging which I personally prefer to lots of glitz.
The play itself was quick moving and risqué in parts. The characters are likeable and I love the way their stories overlap bringing them all together. One of my favourite things about the story (and the play) is the normality of lesbian relationships portrayed. Waters and the adaptor Hattie Naylor deal with this like any heterosexual couple would be portrayed and it’s refreshing. My favourite character is/was Julia (played by Lucy Briggs-Owen but the entire cast worked excellently to portray love and courage against the backdrop of post-war Britain.
There’s now a queue in our house to [re]read The Night Watch- we need a second copy! The Play is on at the Royal Exchange until 18 June 2016 and will hopefully tour in future- catch it if you can!