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On Corporation Street review at Home, Manchester – ‘memorable flashes’

Jamie Matthewman in On Corporation Street at Home, Manchester. Photo: Graeme Cooper
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On Corporation Street is a new piece by Irish company Anu, commissioned by Home to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1996 IRA bomb that exploded in Manchester city centre, wounding 212.

Advertised as “a promenade production” and with patrons advised to “dress according to the weather” as “there may be outside elements for the show,” and what with us being in Manchester, I had mistakenly expected something along the lines of Slung Low’s Camelot; perhaps standing where the bomb had detonated twenty years earlier listening to verbatim testimonies of those affected. This is not that show.

Instead, without wanting to give away too many particulars, the audience is divided into separate groups and led into the still-new, concrete, upper-backstage reaches of Home’s rabbit-warren building to encounter a series of performers in rooms, all with their own (mostly imagined) stories to tell. An IRA man in a shower unit, a nurse in a mocked-up staffroom and, strikingly, a woman dressed in full bridal regalia standing hysterical in a debris-strewn room.

Fittingly, for the second in a planned triptych marking the 100th anniversary of the Easter Uprising, the piece courageously focuses more on Irish stories (on the path I saw), putting the events into the wider context of the (then) stalling peace process, and the far longer history of the British occupation.

Given the advancement of immersive technologies, the piece does feel hidebound by its format. Despite this, there are memorable flashes of verbal and visual wit.

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Constrained, occasionally courageous promenade performance marking 20 years since the IRA Manchester bombing