1 Jul 2013

Wine of India in the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival

Julie and Will Packer know what awaits them...
Morag Peacock and Taran Knight in Wine of India
Photo: Ben Dobbs
The second annual Greater Manchester Fringe Festival opened today.  Bigger and better than last year - as it needs to be, this year facing heavy-duty competition from the biannual Manchester International Festival - this Fringe takes in 14 different venues across Manchester and Salford.  But as with the 2012 fringe, the Lass O'Gowrie is at the heart of the action with several in-house productions, including the now-traditional collaboration with Scytheplays.  And as with last year, the production in question is inspired by the writing of Nigel Kneale - in the case a new stage adaptation of the BBC TV Wednesday play, Wine of India.

Poster artwork by Jake Geen

Originally broadcast in 1970 and starring Brian Blessed, Wine of India was a one-off science-fiction piece exploring a future in which medical science has abolished ageing, but with a price.  Once a person reaches the end of their contract with the state to provide them with rejuvenating drugs, they must die.  And when Will Packer reaches his contract day, he finds he must attend his own funeral. At this bittersweet and brief reunion with his family and friends, he will finally be able to taste the wine of India...

Broadcast once and then wiped in the BBC's 1970s videotape purge, no visual material is known to survive of the original TV production of Wine of India and the script was never published.  The new stage version is therefore an incredibly rare chance to experience this classic play, which is filled with the black humour, searing intelligence and bleak worldview for which its author is renowned.  And the writing/producing/directing team behind the highly-acclaimed Year of the Sex Olympics stage production has once again assembled a superb cast including that production's Kin Hodder, Will Hutchby, as Mike and Sam; Scytheplays' second Halo Jones, Morag Peacock, as Julie; and several newcomers to Scytheplays including Taran Knight (soon to be seen in both the 24:7 Theatre Festival's Temper and Receptive Theatre Company's The Ray Harryhausen Skeleton Orchestra) as Will, Una Love (currently appearing in Organised Chaos Productions' Broken at the Buxton Fringe Festival) as Jonna, with Quentin Knight as Adam, Gemma Ryan (Mind the Gap Theatre's Stig of the Dump) as Nita, Luke Helly (Lass O'Gowrie's Rotten Apples) as Russ, Tom Reed-Goodehall as Dod, Carole Bardsley as Bee, The Hooligan Factory's Liam Grunshaw as Mac and Menyee Lai  as Pat.

Family photos are always embarrassing:
Julie (Morag Peacock), Jonna (Una Love), Will (Taran Knight), Russ (Luke Helly) and Dod (Tom Reed-Goodehall)
Photo: Ben Dobbs
Wine of India performs at the Lass O'Gowrie on Thursday 11th July (7.30pm), Friday 12th July (7.30pm), Saturday 13th July (3pm and 7.30pm) and Sunday 14th July (3pm).  Tickets are £8 and can be bought on the door or pre-booked online here.