Manchester Theatre Awards

> Independent informed reviews by the region’s most experienced critics

VIP

Thomas Ingham
New Live Theatre
John Cooper-Clarke Theatre, above the Black Lion, Chapel Street, Salford
11 September 2013 to 15 September 2013

Actor/writer Thomas Ingham is having a busy week. He’s on stage at one Salford pub while at another, a few hundred yards away, his first play is having its premiere. Earlier this week I rather enjoyed his energetic performance as a mischievous tweeter and last night I also rather liked his play, some of the time.

VIP was apparently the winner of the Manchester Theatre Showcase in April this year, voted for by the audience. It’s a serious sort of comedy and it certainly has plenty of audience appeal.

Cathy, an apparently blonde bimbo TV celeb with all the necessary physical equipment, dances onto the stage expecting it to be the chill-out room at some swanky club, where she seems to have been with her footballer husband. Florence, a rather up-tight actress, and Suzanne, a 19-year-old with much living to do, also fetch up here and the realisation dawns that they are in fact dead.

As things develop, it’s clear that there’s far more depth to Cathy than first impressions would convey and indeed people being what they might or might not seem, is one of the play’s main themes.

Revealing what happens from here on in would be giving too much away but the girls don’t have the stage entirely to themselves as the lads make an appearance in a sort of groundhog day coda to the main event.

There are plenty of good ideas and some nice lines here and with a little more honing the confusing bits can, I’m sure, be sorted. Much of the evening’s success is certainly down to several impressive performances from the six-strong cast, directed by Clare Barry.

Katie Burgess, as the not-so-bimbo-ish Cathy, is particularly outstanding and I also especially like Hilly Barber as the onetime actress and Jack Howard as the forceful firefighter.

Reviewer: Alan Hulme