Theatre review: SparkPlug

There are plays, productions, shows that you appreciate the work of, admire, praise, write about, commend.

Then there are those that you actually want to frogmarch people into the theatre to see.

You almost don’t want to write about it, lest it spoil the experience. You want to write of it, of course. But not a breakdown of it, as it were.

If it didn’t make me look like a lazy little blogger, I’d have titled this post

Go immediately and see SparkPlug, written and starring David  Judge, on at HOME Mcr until 23 February

and just post some pictures.

credit: author’s own

But I’ll say a little more.

Brought to the stage by Manchester-based theatre company, Box of Tricks, and directed by Hannah Tyrell-Pinder, SparkPlug is autobiographically inspired, telling the story of ‘a white man who becomes the adoptive father, mother and best friend of a mixed race child.’

A single-hander by the astonishingly talented David Judge, we’re taken straight to Manchester 1983 onwards by Judge, the frame of an old Capri (which goes on its own journey of transformation as the narrative develops), Rod Stewart, Michael Jackson and some impassioned and incredible storytelling.

David Judge (Dave), credit: Alex Mead, Decoy Media.

For 80 minutes, we were swept along with the beautiful, rhythmic, poetic dialogue as Judge told the funny, tragic, sometimes shocking story of race, sexuality and those who act as judge and jury on the two.

The energy in the dialogue was matched by the way Judge cleverly commanded the stage, every inch of the car frame interrogated as he swung, lay, sat, drove and decorated his object of amour.

There were other props seen, touched, but Judge, through his delivery, accents, stature, dancing, singing and display of emotion, gave the audience everything they needed as we travelled through the 80s with him. Young, old, man, woman, black, white, mixed race…Judge had it covered.

 David Judge (Dave), credit: Alex Mead, Decoy Media

A Manchester audience will obviously appreciate and understand more the cultural references which can be drawn simply by utterance of the word


but the setting of the story is largely irrelevant, the story is the thing.

I think that’s all I’m going to tell you about the performance and it’s more than I wanted to. I just want you to see it and be entertained, educated, moved and open-mouthed as one very talented man tells us a story of love.

David Judge (Dave), credit: Alex Mead, Decoy Media

Visit for more details and, importantly, access to your tickets.

Seeing this production on Valentine’s Day, I’m inspired to say that whilst it’s true that money can’t buy you love, £12.50 can buy you a ticket to a brilliant evening at the theatre.

PS SparkPlug is not just for Manchester; at HOME until 23 February,  it will next move onto an extensive 18-venue tour, ending in Birmingham in April. Don’t miss out.



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