Martyn Hett was one of the 22 people killed in the Manchester Arena attack in May 2017. #BeMoreMartyn is a play based on people’s memories of his life. I wondered how it would work but work it did. Brought to us by Hope Theatre Company, this was verbatim theatre at its best.
This documentary play is constructed from the precise words of eight people who all knew and loved the 29-year-old who lived in Stockport. The individual interviews for this unique production were conducted by the writers, Adam Zane and Mike Lee, between September 2017 and April 2018. This insightfully crafted piece of verbatim theatre is a reminder to us all to cherish friendship in all its forms and be fearless and true to ourselves.
#BeMoreMartyn is no maudlin eulogy of a young man losing his life in his prime, it is a celebration and a journey from the moment of each of the 8 characters’ meeting Martyn, to their respective partings.
The stage is set in Martyn’s bar, ‘The Frigg,’ his open-house meeting place, within his flat in Stockport. Here we meet 8 of Martyn’s friends: Russel (Martin Forey); Mikey (Joseph Carter); Christina (Chloe Proctor); Rachel (Sonia Ibrahim); Alastair (Callum Scott); Stuart (Carl Blakeley); Hannah (Bridget Gallagher); and Andrew (Daniel Maley). Each of these friends ably weave a colourful, humorous, poignant picture of Martyn for us.
Martyn, the vibrant PR specialist, a long-time Coronation Street fan ¬- especially Deirdre Barlow – a fan of Mariah Carey with a little bit Michelle McManus and the ‘glory that is the Eurovision’ all thrown in for good measure.
There are many laugh out loud moments especially when the friends, ably stage-managed by Flick Gourley, model various costumes worn for their hilarious nights out. Whether they were out drinking their beloved vodka, performing a hastily ‘Martyn choreographed’ dance routine, tumbling along the cobbled streets of Canal Street or having a night in, glued to the TV for their latest visit to the cobbles of Coronation Street, we are part of the experience.
There are moments that bring us true reflection, and in a very short time we too, are captivated by Martyn. The friends tell of their own love, not only for Martyn, and his Deirdre Tattoo, but of each other, during this two-hour play, artfully produced by Mike Lee and directed by Adam Zane.
The Frigg Bar, designed by Dick Longdin, seems just the right place to be, to celebrate the life of this extraordinary young person whose love of life, all things ‘Corrie’ and joy of friendship, continues to make a lasting impression on the audience who hear about him. There is a surprise as the last bows are taken, something I believe, Martyn would have approved of. And the audience certainly approved – sending the cast home with a standing ovation.
#BeMoreMartyn the boy with the Deirdre tattoo is at The Lowry, Salford Quays from 20-22 June 2019.