Beginning: Royal Exchange Theatre

Saturday night, Strictly and a Sofa 'a deux' in Didsbury
February 23, 2023

The art of conversation and true romance is not dead if the production of Beginning is anything to go by, at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, until March 11.

This production was a bold move by director Bryony Shanahan to impose an almost two hour dialogue (with no interval), between two actors Laura (Erin Shanagher) and Danny (Gerard Kearns) and manage to keep the audience’s attention.

It started slowly, and as is normal fellow actors in the audience on press night, began to laugh from the word go. Most of the early exchanges seemed to be a frolic into the unknown by the pair as they tried to find their feet in this hugely entertaining romantic exchange, which could only end in one of two ways.

Laura (Erin Shanagher)

But find their feet they did and from fifteen minutes in, the audience laughter grew as mother’s boy Danny tried to win over the heart of Laura at the afterparty exchange at her Didsbury flat.

Danny who had split with his wife and is estranged from his daughter, is suspicious about why someone who seems to have lots of money would want to be a part of his life and not just a one night stand.

The dialogue is amazingly funny, but also strangely dark, as the pair represent almost the last forty-something age group who could remember the days without a mobile phone and also a time as youngsters, when judgement calls were made face to face and not via social media.

Writer David Eldridge explained that after he had reached the age of forty his marriage had broken down: “I hadn’t been single for something like 15 years.

“Suddenly being in a world where there’s online dating and apps and all of that. Ultimately what everyone wanted wasn’t a ‘no strings attached’ one night stand. It was to meet that person that you can cuddle up with on a Saturday night and watch STRICTLY with, you know?”

Danny (Gerard Kearns) and Laura (Erin Shanagher)

The play, which was adapted to give it a Northern flavour, was superbly acted and no amount of training can teach young actors the magic that this pair managed to conjure up.

A huge shout out to set designer TK Hay for the set design, which very effectively turned the large space into a kitchen/lounge.

Superb- must see!

For more information and tickets CLICK HERE 

Images: Helen Murray