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On the Shore of the Wide World review at Royal Exchange Manchester

For the first time in its history, the Royal Exchange has entered into a co-production at the instigation of the National’s Nicholas Hytner, who, for a time, directed at the Exchange. He suggested a co-production of Simon Stephens’ latest work, which means that the theatre, responsible for staging his inaugural production of Port, now celebrates the world premiere of his newest play.

Set in Stockport last year, this is a play about family and self-discovery but it is also about love, loss and reconciliation. The direction and casting are simply superb.

There is a beautifully restrained performance from Nicholas Gleaves as Peter, the head of the household, struggling to cope with loss and keep his family together. Siobhan Finneran is first rate as his wife Alice who is also dazed by grief, while Thomas Morrison and Steven Webb are totally believable as their two sons. There are fine performances too from David Hargreaves and Eileen O’Brien as the grandparents with their own problems.

Liz Ascroft’s magnificent set is dominated by an enormous suspended globe mirrored by a section of another sphere on the floor where director Sarah Frankcom cohesively choreographs the myriad of scenes for the actors seated around the circumference of their world.

The ecstatic reception for this quality production bodes well and it can be seen at the National’s Cottesloe after its run at the Exchange.

Production Information

Royal Exchange, Manchester, April 13-May 14

Author
Simon Stephens
Director
Sarah Frankcom
Producer
A co-production between the Royal Exchange and the National Theatre
Cast includes
Nicholas Gleaves, Siobhan Finneran, Thomas Morrison and David Hargreaves
Running Time
2hrs 45mins
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