Back in the mid-1990s, I was proud to play a pioneering role introducing pub theatre to Manchester, having persuaded the now defunct Tetley Pub Company to sponsor a season at the now long closed Square Albert on Albert Square. While pub and pub company are no more, Rocket, the innovative theatre company behind it soldiers on, and it’s good to see continues this tradition of bringing theatre to untraditional spaces.
In 1995 we not only put on theatre where it wasn’t expected, we showcased work from new writers too. And in truth it was too much. We got plenty of publicity, but few bums on seats as the audience turned out to be a little conservative.
Now Martin Harris, who is Rocket, has adapted Oscar Wilde’s Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime into a two man play that can be performed anywhere to some well deserved critical acclaim. Katharine and I caught it at Smith’s Restaurant in Eccles, a good locals’ restaurant serving up reasonable modern British cuisine at fair prices. (Smith’s is doing a lot of this, which is great, but we were left a little fed up at first after arriving promptly for 7pm, having eaten out main course by 7.45pm and then having to wait an hour for the show.)
Wilde is a crowd puller and in Martin’s hands the play turns into something very reminiscent of Kind Hearts and Coronets as Lord Arthur’s manservant is forced to impersonate various characters from his master’s story. A black, but light comedy it works particularly well served up between courses. But Martin has now extended and adapted the play for the stage and is to tour it at various theatres, which somehow seems to miss the point; I fear it may be spoilt. If you get the chance see it a restaurant, a bar or someone’s front room.