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#BeMoreMartyn: The Boy With the Deirdre Tattoo review at Pleasance Theatre, London – ‘moving verbatim performance’

#BeMoreMartyn: The Boy With the Deirdre Tattoo at Pleasance Theatre, London. Photo: Alessa Davison
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Martyn Hett was 29 years old when he was killed, along with 22 others, in the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017. Hett worked in PR and was something of a media butterfly, having appeared on episodes of Come Dine With Me and Tattoo Fixers. But to his friends, he was a legend.

Hett’s passion for Eurovision, Jane McDonald and Mariah Carey knew no bounds, but he is possibly best remembered for his all-consuming love of Coronation Street. #BeMoreMartyn is a piece of verbatim theatre that acts as a memorial to the man with the Deidre Barlow tattoo. Set in a recreation of his home bar above a hat museum in Stockport, a group of Martyn’s friends tell us about the man they knew.

Creators Adam Zane and Mike Lee spoke to eight of Hett’s closest friends, including his partner Russell, and recorded their memories of this outspoken party animal. The result is not always flattering but it creates an honest portrait of a man with a big heart and a genuine lust for life.

It’s an organic piece of theatre that doesn’t follow a formal narrative. There’s no beginning, middle or end and the randomness of the stories gives the piece a welcome immediacy. It’s a pub chat on the nature of friendship, understandably tinged with sadness but with an overarching sense of love and hope. This is therapy theatre, encouraging its audience to embrace life and be proud of who you are and what you love.

John McGrath: ‘After the Manchester attack, the festival feels more urgent than ever’

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Moving verbatim performance on themes of friendship and pride