I do sometimes question why I come away with so many positive feelings, thoughts and, well, reviews, from productions that I’ve been lucky enough to see in theatres in and around Manchester.
Be they performed on a stage in a large auditorium, in a church, in a renovated mill, even in a pub cellar, theatre is about entertainment and it’s about story-telling. It’s about communicating an idea, a vision, a feeling, a message. If you walk away at curtain down (if there is a curtain), with your thoughts provoked or your senses stimulated or even your funny bone triggered, then the entire outfit involved has done its job.
And last night, The Jumper Factory, did just that.
Brought to HOME Mcr by the Young Vic, written by Luke Barnes and directed by Justin Audibert, the 45 minute production requires little fanfare in its manifestation on stage. This is partly due to the 6 fine young actors’ talent, and partly due to the truth, experience, honesty and belief that are clearly the foundations of the show.
Developed by the Young Vic through a series of workshops with eight prisoners at HMP Wandsworth, The Jumper Factory tells their story. However, not before those same prisoners were given the opportunity to tell it themselves.
Performed in wings around the prison, the feedback was so positive that the eight involved wanted to ensure that their story went beyond those walls and to ‘the outside’, in order to gain an understanding of life ‘inside’.
Added to this grounding in realism and raw material, is the fact that the six young actors; Ayomide Adegun, Raphael Akuwudike, Joe Haddad, Rasaq Kukoyi, Jake Mills and Pierre Moullier (all aged 18-25), on stage last night, not only entered the production with either little or no acting experience, they, like many, have all had their lives touched in varying ways by the criminal justice system.
This perfect storm of elements results in a show that is authentic, humorous, heartfelt and, yes, entertaining.
As the six form a tag team to tell a tale of one prisoner’s experience of life behind bars and away from his mother, his girlfriend, his step-son (who calls him Daddy 2); each actor took their turn in taking on the main role, the mother, the girlfriend…each performance in a role as believable as the last.
The story isn’t one of pity, extremities, shock, or controversy, merely a presentation of a life that most of us will never know, but from what good could possibly stem.
As the saying goes,
it is, indeed, what it is.
And what it is is a not to be missed tale told with a combination of truth and talent.
The Jumper Factory runs until this Saturday 14 September. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit https://homemcr.org/production/the-jumper-factory/
To learn more about the Young Vic, visit https://www.youngvic.org/