Twenty years on, and the effects of the bomb detonated on Corporation Street can still be seen in Manchester. From the look of the Arndale Centre to the Corn Exchange, whose tenants were evicted following the attack, the city was changed forever.
What On Corporation Street does magnificently is explore the effect the attack had on the people of Manchester. ANU Productions, led by director Louise Lowe and visual artist Owen Boss, have created a fantastic series of snapshots into that day through the eyes of everyday people.
A promenade performance, the audience split into small groups were led through the service corridors of the Home theatre to experience several small performances. These vignettes mixed in humour as much as sorrow, while the set design, at times minimal and at others decorated in pure ‘90s nostalgia, was truly immersive.
However, awkward moments and the odd nervous chuckle exchanged between audience members permeated the performance.
Occasionally, the group would be led by an in-character chaperone and left to wait for the next segment to start.
While the overall effect was fantastic, these moments sometimes too easily broke the immersion.
The use of sound was a real highlight, as it transformed otherwise bland corridors into sets which felt like they could be inside Kendal’s department store.
The set of a young man’s flat really came alive with the use of television and beige home furnishings that were faithful to the time. Small touches really shone, including references to Euro ’96 and authentic music magazines.
The performance ended with the audience led out to the streets of Manchester. A rather abrupt ending which left some audience members comparing notes to check if they had seen everything. But, with so few short-comings this was a thoroughly thought-provoking experience with convincing performances throughout.
An exploration of the effect of the type of high profile terror incidents which are all too common, this is a kind of theatre which demands to be seen.
TNT Arts & Culture Lewis Chapman