Greater Manchester Fringe: Seven shows you won’t want to miss at the cultural festival

The massive arts events is back with dozens of shows at venues across Greater Manchester.

<p>Colin Connor in Krapp’s Last Tape. Photo: Craige Barker</p>

Colin Connor in Krapp’s Last Tape. Photo: Craige Barker

Greater Manchester Fringe Festival is back in September with more than 60 shows in a packed programme.

The celebration of culture includes theatre, screenings, streamed events, stand-up comedy and more.

Venues across the city-region, including some not usually known for staging the arts, are taking part in the event which runs throughout the month.

With so much on the bill, it can be a bit difficult to know where to start.

We’ve taken a look through the programme and picked out what we think are seven highlights.

I Remain

This is a one-act drama based on the true story of writer Parissa Zamanpour’s great-great-grandfather Private Harry Hayes, who served in the Manchester Pals 17th Battalion during the First World War.

I Remain. Photo: GM Fringe

It is being put on at The Empty Space.

The play follows Will, who stumbles across a box of old photos and letters that bring Harry back to life through his words.

Dirty Old Town

Rob Johnston’s work is drawn from historical records and personal memoirs, following Detective Jerome Caminada who is believed to be the real-life inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal fictional sleuth Sherlock Holmes.

The play will be staged by Pact Productions at the apt surroundings of the Greater Manchester Police Museum.

Directed by Malcom Raeburn, it is set in Victorian Manchester and stars Eddie Capli, who was recently in a Manchester detective series on Radio 4 called Stone.

Bysmal Boys

Playwright Laura Genders’ work is getting its world premiere production during the festival at Salford Arts Theatre.

The work explores the lives of Blue Watch, Macclesfield’s fire service, during the Winter of Discontent in 1977.

Saucy Jack and The Space Vixens

This former West End show is one of three musicals on the bill for GM Fringe 2021.

Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens. Left to right: Katy Oliver (Anna Labia), Emma Ashcroft (Chesty Prospects), Joel Dyer (Saucy Jack), Michael Loftus (Mirch Maypole), and Solaya Sang (Bunny Lingus). Photograph: Craige Barker.

It’s an immersive show with LGBTQ+ themes and it will be staged at Tribeca.


Esther Manito’s biographical show takes the audience back to the 1990s era of lads’ mags.

It explores the media perception that her Middle Eastern heritage was filled with misogynistic men, compared to Western men.

Esther is a familiar face on the comedy circuit as she has appeared on ITV2’s Stand Up Sketch Show, Russell Kane’s Evil Genius on Radio 4 and BBC Radio 4 show Newsjack.

Cock Therapy

Joe Henry’s show, which will be performed at Salford Arts Theatre, certainly has an attention-grabbing title!

The play uses therapy sessions to discuss sexual abuse from a gay man’s perspective with dark humour.

It is also part of the festival’s commitment to showcasing local talent, with both Cock Therapy and a show called Toxic at Altrincham Garrick featuring University of Salford alumni.

Feeling Haunted?

This is an unusual multimedia show that focuses on a lost episode of a cancelled TV show of the same name.

Dylan Hopkins and Dominika Rak, from Feeling Haunted. Photo: Craige Barker

The question now, is are the cast being haunted in real life?

Follow host David G. Hostmann (Dylan Hopkins) and medium Galina Pakulska (Dominika Rak) as they try to find out the root of the hauntings, going into the most haunted house they have ever experienced along with their cameraman.

What else is on?

A lot, in short. There are literally dozens of options to pick from.

Bury writer Selina Halliwell is bringing not one but two shows to the Fringe.

The Formidable Lizzie Boone focuses on sexual abuse and mental health issues with some dark humour and showcasing burlesque skills she learnt in lockdown, while Fruit Salad is a digital event.

Salfordian and musician Mark E Smith, who later lived in Prestwich, is remembered inThe Church of the Fall, a spoken word show by Stephen G Titley at Lock 91.

Classic drama fans can enjoy the likes of Chekhov’s The Bear and Colin Connor performing Samuel Beckett’s one-man show Krapp’s Last Tape.

More details about the full programme are on the Greater Manchester Fringe website.

What do the festival organisers say?

Greater Manchester Fringe director Zena Barrie said: “So many people want to get out there and perform, we had more than 200 registrations.

“There have been some venue closures and some now have lower capacity. But our performers are very resourceful.

“People have performed fringe shows in all sorts of unusual spaces including pubs, campervans, tents, museums, a Roman fort and even a crypt.”