Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester – until 26 May 2018
On the 22 May 2017, 22 people were killed at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena by a suicide bomber. One of those people was 29 years old Martyn Hett – a Coronation Street obsessed PR specialist – unique, effervescent and determined – who had a bar in his Stockport flat, a cat called Emily Bishop and a life-size cardboard cut-out of Gail Platt. In a tribute to Martyn and everything that he stood for, Hope Theatre Company set out to find out more about him, the lives he touched, his friends and the experiences that they shared together through a fascinating, though heartfelt, verbatim performance.
Hope Theatre Company spoke to eight of Martyn’s closest friends and then used their exact words to present Martyn’s story and persona on stage. #BeMoreMartyn takes the audience on a journey through Martyn’s life – from Canal Street to Coronation Street, trips to Blackpool and his schooldays – celebrating divas on the way.
Gold lettering hangs at the back of the stage spelling out ‘The Frigg’. Apparently, Martyn had a bar in his flat where all his friends would head back to after a good night out. You can even tag yourself here on Facebook. Martyn really was a one-off – he was unafraid, he was bold and he celebrated life. Two television screens further aid the verbatim performance with clips of Martyn’s dalliances on TV, his soap icons and also footage which he had filmed himself.
The performance is genuinely funny, Martyn’s vigour, zest for life and mischief translates perfectly as each story unfolds. The cast of eight are all fascinating to watch – the authenticity and weight behind the words is palpable as each tries to capture the emotion, idiosyncrasies and stumbles in speech – this heightens the emotion particularly during the sad moments of reflection.
Ultimately, #BeMoreMartyn celebrates the life of one extraordinary person who touched the lives of so many people. People in the audience were audibly moved by the performance at points – there was laughter, the sound of deep sorrow and resolute nods of pride. One thing is for sure, following the tragic loss of Martyn, his friends have joined together to forge tenacious and supportive friendships. In the words of one of Martyn’s friends, “#BeMoreMartyn means to be fearless, be yourself and be proud of that.”
#BeMoreMartyn runs at Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester until Saturday 26th May 2018.
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