Trafford's Refract Festival promises summer fun and laughter in Sale

The Refract:22 festival, which is now in its fifth year, promises a whole host of performances at Sale’s Waterside Theatre between July 21 to July 30.
June 20, 2022

IF you want to know who kicked TV's Father Ted's, Bishop Brennan up the backside, a ten day festival of comedy, music, theatre, dance and circus skills, could provide an answer!

The Refract:22 festival, which is now in its fifth year, promises a whole host of performances at Sale’s Waterside Theatre between July 21 to July 30.

Among the events on offer is renowned stand-up Joe Rooney, in which comedy fans will be able to celebrate a night of all things Father Ted!

Joe, who featured on TV as the rebellious Father Damo, in the episode entitled, The Old Grey Whistle Theft, leads the suggestible Dougal astray, with his earring, cigarette smoking and bad-boy attitude. Joe will host the screening of the episode, take the audience behind the scenes and also set them a Craggy Island quiz.

The summer festival aims to transform  both indoor and outdoor spaces to offer visitors innovative ways in which to experience a variety made up of live comedy, music, dance, performance and theatre.

Indoor highlights feature a stellar line up of live music including the acclaimed Riot Jazz who bring their own special sound to the Waterside stage, by fusing jazz, hip-hop, drum and bass, Balkan, trap, grime, dubstep, Latin and classical. Riot Jazz is a 9 strong troupe comprising of three trumpets, three trombones, drums, sousaphone, and is fronted by the prodigious MC Chunky, with their take on covers, ranging from Britney Spears to Todd Terje.

Global music collective Kabantu, join the festival line up and present the South African philosophy of Ubuntu: "I am who I am because of who we all are" in both their collective and eclectic sounds by sharing it to a globalised 21st century audience.

Harriet Dagnall,  a familiar face on the vibrant Manchester music scene since 2018, was raised on an eclectic range of music and draws inspiration from the likes of Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac, Kate Bush and the Cocteau Twins and more recently from The Japanese House, Marika Hackman, Yebba and The War on Drugs.

Joining her on the same bill is Manchester’s hottest rising indie alternative band Foxglove. The band is tipped for success, with releases including Car Radio, Selfish and their latest single Blind.

For those who prefer their music complete with jazz hands and show tunes, the festival has it covered with the critically acclaimed Off Broadway and West End musical hit, Julie Madly Deeply, a charming and cheeky cabaret which takes an engaging look at fame and fandom, through the eyes and voice of award-winning performer Sarah-Louise Young.  Performing songs from musicals including Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady, Young’s show and musical performances are intertwined with stories and anecdotes about her musical legend Julie Andrews' own life, from her beginnings as a child star to the more recent challenges of losing her famous singing voice. What emerges is a delightfully funny and candid love letter to a true show business survivor.

The Edinburgh Fringe hit, Like Animals, will be performed by the acclaimed Superfan.  It is billed as a funny and poignant investigation into love and communication in human (and not-so-human) relationships, inspired by true stories of animal language experiments, performed by real-life couple performers, Kim Donohoe and Pete Lannon

In The Formidable Lizzie Boone, multi-award-winning Selina Helliwell, will pull you into Lizzie’s world of healing and humour. Centred around a therapist’s office, the one-woman show explores the intricacies of humanity through a woman who loves not just Lionel her cat but also has a penchant for vodka and lemonade. In a dark comedy drama and adult themed presentation. 

If the indoors whet your appetite, the outdoor festival events will include a ‘back-of-the-net’ opening night treat on the Waterside Plaza, celebrating the largely forgotten story of the Preston-based Dick Kerr ladies’ football team. These pioneering women went on to defy an FA ban on them daring to play football in 1921, which was deemed as ‘quite unfit for females’!  The dance-based show shines a light on a story bursting with teamwork, resilience and determination. 

On the Festival’s first Saturday, the Plaza will stage all-female outdoor dance theatre and acrobatic company Mimbre, who bring Lifted, a performance that captivates by mixing dance, theatre and circus.

Glamis is yet another free outdoor event that blends feathers, make-up, glitter, dance, circus and cabaret, while it encourages the audience to celebrate being just plain fab themselves!  The colourful performance highlights the power in bringing people together and is inspired by club culture and the journey of the LGBTQ+ community.

SPLAT is a fully inclusive physical comedy show featuring much chaos and fun but without any verbal dialogue. The presentation is billed as ideal for youngsters and will witness the return of Groove Baby - a sensational sensory voyage specially created for under 3’s.

For slightly older children, Groove into the Woods, is a jazz and funk fuelled family adventure.

For lovers of Waterside’s regular comedy nights, Laugh Riot features some of the best stand-ups on the circuit today - including Jonathan Mayor as MC, the brilliant and talented Luisa Omielan,- American actor, comedian and cabaret performer David Mills and all-round entertainer Lee Peart.

Completing the Refract festival line-up is virtual-reality dance sensation Facades. Inspired by iconic moments from film, Facades is a virtual-reality dance experience that uses architectural features in an entirely new way. Facades present hauntingly beautiful choreography from other perspectives, inviting the viewer to step into the frame, move beyond the veneer and take a look close-up.

Festival curator/producer and manager of the Waterside, Darren Adams said: “It is so exciting to bring our fifth Refract festival back here and to offer a fully live series of events. 

“After a challenging year for artists and arts organisations, we are so thrilled to be welcoming so many up-and-coming and established performers through our doors and on to our stages to build on the success of the first four years. We cannot wait to share the wealth of local and national talent across all genres of performance and celebrate the arts at our festival."

Details of other festival events, dates, times and tickets can be found on this link: