Theatre review: Hand Over Fist

Article published: Wednesday, July 3rd 2013

The 2013 Greater Manchester Fringe Festival launched this week and Hand Over Fist is one of the first productions of its month-long stretch.

hand-over-fist-flyerEmily has Alzheimer’s. Alone and in her declining years it is through this debilitating disease that she begins to relate the myriad, interconnecting stories of her life from her first sexual attraction and love both lost and found to the birth of her child. Struggling through barriers of memory, Emily recalls these events with a mixture of confusion, frustration, coarse humour and moments of absolute clarity until its profound and moving denouement.

Royal Court Young Writer Dave Florez’s script premiered to great reviews and nominations in Edinburgh last year and there is no reason that this production – perfectly directed by Joe Mellor of award-winning Fresh Loaf Productions and wonderfully acted by Helena Davies – should not bring the same kind of plaudits.

In a quietly restrained and remarkable interpretation, the word-perfect Davies gently tiptoes between the delicate strands of Emily’s story. Weaving vague and disconnected memories and recollections into one stream-of-consciousness, word association narrative she makes every transfixed person in the room feel they are the only one listening. A performance of such lovely subtlety is in itself something quite rare and it is of great credit to director Joe Mellor that he has handled the work with such ingenuity and craft, finely tuning what is already an exceptional monologue with the gentle notes of Jack Evans’ accompanying piano.

Hand Over Fist is one of the opening pieces of the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival and a piece that deserves to be seen. The bar has been set high. If the rest of the fringe is of this quality and professionalism then it can be a festival to be proud of.

Robert Pegg

Hand Over Fist continues nightly at Town Hall Tavern until 4 July. For more information on Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, browse their website. The festival continues for the whole on July.

An edit of this review first appeared on the Now Then Manchester blog.

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