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Pomona, Royal Exchange - Theatre Review

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by David Keyworth (subscribe)
Im a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester. My debut poetry pamphlet is available at
Event: -
Hide & seek
Characters in Pomona are either looking for someone or staying out of view of someone or something.

The title of Alistair McDowall's play refers to an abandoned concrete island in Manchester but could also be a metaphor for the isolation the characters endure.

Royal Exchange Pomona
Guy Rhys (Zeppo). Photographer Richard Davenport.

The night opens with one of the strongest scenes. Guy Rhys is wonderful as Zeppo, who 'owns the city' and dispenses pearls of wisdom in a Mancunian accent. Equally Sam Swann gives a memorable performance as 'security guard' and role-play games enthusiast Charlie. He manages to combine youthful innocence with sexual waywardness.

Royal Exchange Pomona
Sean Rigby (Moe) and Sam Swann (Charlie). Photographer Richard Davenport.

The dialogue, which alternates between tension and humour, is also one of the most successful parts of the play. Equally gripping is the way that the truth of situations is revealed a little more in each scene but not fully.

The use of blackouts creates an unsettling and and cinematic effect - allowing characters to suddenly appear on stage and to disappear from it. Credit must also go to Giles Thomas for his haunting soundtrack.

The play, which runs without an interval, gradually reveals its heart of darkness. Maybe, as 'security guard' Moe says: "Everything bad is real." But at least some of the protagonists are searching for light in the darkness.

Royal Exchange Manchester Pomona
Sarah Middleton (Keaton). Photographer Richard Davenport.

The Royal Exchange is now staging plays on selected Sundays. Pomona can be seen on 15th November.
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Why? Play that combines laughter and tension
Phone: 0161 833 9833
Where: Royal Exchange, Manchester
Cost: From 10
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