Root & Branch’s ’18 Victoria’ at Greater Manchester Fringe

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What would you do if you had three weeks to live?

Get very drunk? Have lots of sex? Make amends with your family?

All three?

‘18 Victoria’ is the story of three siblings struggling to piece together their broken relationship against a very real deadline: a huge meteor, 18 Victoria, is about to crash into Earth and no one will survive.

As they struggle to come to terms with their lack of a future, the wreckage of the past endures.

This is no ordinary family. There are some very big secrets. Can they trust each other enough to make amends?

This is a genuinely unsettling and shocking play with big adult themes and adult language to match.

It has been adapted by Root & Branch from a brilliant script by American playwright, Cody Daigle-Orians, to be set in the north of England and received its European premiere by Root & Branch at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield on Friday 13 April 2018.

Live music from ‘We Were Strangers’ will accompany the performances.

Director Julie Root says:
“We loved the play as soon as we chanced upon it on a website because it has big themes that lots of people can relate to, like sibling relationships and struggling with the idea of growing up, as well as some very dark revelations.
“We are thrilled to be performing at 53two again and to be the only company to have performed this play in the UK.”

About Root & Branch
’18 Victoria’ is the second production from Root & Branch Productions. Their first, ‘A Respectable Wedding’ by Bertolt Brecht, was nominated for two awards at last year’s Manchester Fringe and got some great reviews.
The company is made up of four actors: Joe Geddes, Prue Griffiths, Julie Root, and Lynne Whitaker, all of whom wanted to create a company that would produce great drama and have an open approach to making it.
Another driving factor was age. Three of the company are women over 50 who were fed up with the lack of opportunities for older women, and felt that it was time to live their dreams.

What people said about the European premiere of Root & Branch’s production of 18 Victoria on 13 April 2018:
“The performance of 18 Victoria was outstanding. An intimate and incredibly powerful show with an excellent ensemble. The live music in conjunction with the affecting, sometimes heart-breaking story made for a great night of theatre.”
“Your production of 18 Victoria was a stunning piece of theatre…The live music was beautiful and the direction and stage management of the entire production was perfection.”
“The intimacy of the venue was reinforced by the actors’ ability to tell their stories with conviction, drawing the audience into their personal lives, reacting to the news of impending doom and leaving you questioning how you would react in a similar situation.”

Reviews for ‘A Respectable Wedding’:
“Root & Branch Productions are so chuffed at securing comedian and impressionist Rory Bremner’s translation of Bertolt Brecht’s A Respectable Wedding that advance publicity builds the news into the title of the production. Yet despite the sharp script, what impresses most about the show is simply the quality of the production.
“…...director Lynne Whitaker has drilled the nine members of the cast into a tight working unit in which they all feed lines to each other and cheerfully crash around the stage when required. It is a high-quality production with a wide range of self-destructing props.” (Manchester Theatre Awards)
“The strong, capable cast turn it up to 11 from the outset, particularly Joe Geddes as the increasingly wound-up groom who successfully manages to elicit laughs and sympathy in equal measure. Nifty choreography with some poorly constructed furniture also adds a touch of slapstick to the self-loathing.
“At 80 minutes, the piece rattles along nicely and, unlike the guests, it never gets close to outstaying its welcome.” (Northern Soul)
“The play works well in the intimate theatre space, with the occasional rumble of a tram in the background, and the director Lynne Whitaker has rightly kept things very simple. Root & Branch are to be commended on this very successful version of Brecht’s play, and 53two for their vision in creating this innovative arts hub.” (North West End)
About the author
Cody Daigle-Orians is a playwright, educator and arts programmer living in Hartford, Connecticut. He is the programme and events specialist for the Westport Library in Westport, Connecticut. His playwrighting work has been produced and/or developed at the Astoria Performing Arts Center, New Jersey Repertory Theatre, The Actors Company Theatre (NYC) and many others.

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