A Night on the Tiles

Fast-paced gangster pastiche A Night on the Tiles is the kind of piece that embodies the spirit of “A Younger Theatre” as does its host venue, Contact Theatre Manchester.

Performed by spoken-word collective Pen-ultimate (a Company who met as part of Contact’s Young Actors Company) A Night on the Tiles is a mixture of spoken word, hip-hop, physical theatre, music and dark comedy.  The Tiles in the title refer to the pieces in a seedy and lucrative game of Scrabble – which the gangsters on stage substitute for the more traditional game of poker.  As the action unfolds this game acquires all the undertones of the criminal world – with high stakes, impending violence and bloody revenge!

The play is a fine vehicle for the diverse talents of the ensemble cast, allowing each of them to play to their strengths.  The dramatic closing scene between Scroupier (Ganner) and Harry (Gadema) is particularly well managed by the two performers and introduces a sense of poignancy in contrast to the humour of the piece.

There were subtle but effective use of Contact’s projection screens and the minimal set was imaginatively used throughout the performance. There were naïve yet at the same time inventive approaches to staging; visible hands passed props from the wings and a mountain scene was created using a small backdrop and a handful of ‘snow’ blown into the actors face.

This was my first time at Contact and I would definitely make a return visit.  It has all the feel of a professional theatre but unusually keeps young people at the heart of everything it does.  The evening had an inclusive feel from start to finish – with pre-show platform entertainment in the foyer and several opportunities to provide feedback afterwards.

All in all – an excellent venue, an innovative play and a young Company to watch!

(Plays until 13th November.  A night on the tiles is collaboration between Pen-ultimate, Contact and The Albany Theatre.  This revised piece tours to the Albany 23rd – 27th November)