There's no shortage of innovative theatre in Manchester. From established centres like The Royal Exchange and HOME to new grass-roots collectives like Northern Rep, there's something for everyone on the theatrical circuit.
And immersive theatre, where audience members are thrown into the midst of the action, is quickly gaining popularity in the city.
From site-specific thrillers in secret locations, to grand performances in scenic parks, here are five of the best immersive theatre productions in Greater Manchester.
Mobile, touring Greater Manchester
Mobile by The PaperBirds (Photo: The Other Richard)
Set in a caravan in an unassuming car park, Mobile is The Paper Birds' second show in a trilogy about class in modern Britain. Made for audiences of up to 8 people at a time, this is an intimate 40-minute theatre show, based on interviews conducted in communities across the UK.
Step into the tiny space for true stories and dreams for the future, which are revealed through video projection, recorded interviews, original music and interactions with the cast.
The Grant Arms car park, Ramsbottom on Friday June 23;Library Gardens, Bury on Saturday June 24; Sale Arts Centre on July 29 - 30; HOME on October 11-15 / thepaperbirds.com / Check website for full schedule
The True History of the Tragic Life and Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana, the Ugliest Woman in the World
Performed in complete darkness, The True History of the Tragic Life and Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana, the Ugliest Woman in the World, is a terrible, tender play that tells the true story of a 19 Century South American Indian who was sold by her family. Bought by Theodore Lent, the owner of a travelling freak show, she was billed as ‘The Ugliest Woman in the World’ and was exploited even after her untimely death at the height of her fame. Not for the claustrophobic, faint-hearted or those afraid of the dark.
113 Pollard St, Manchester M4 7JA / hopemilltheatre.co.uk / Monday July 3 to Sunday July 9 / £12
The Hound of the Baskervilles, Northern Rep
A new theatre co-operative based in Manchester's Great Northern Warehouse, Northern Rep is innovative, affordable and unpredictable.
"Don’t expect a traditional theatre-going experience,” says director Thomas Moore, and after attending the collective's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, we can confirm it's unlike anything else in th city.
"The entire concept of the show is that Sherlock Holmes & Dr Jane Watson have freshly finished solving the case of The Hound of The Baskervilles and are sharing the tale with an intimate group of friends they have invited into the drawing room of 221b Baker Street.
“Audience members should expect to be immersed in the world of the Baker Street throughout the production: Mrs Hudson will be serving drinks to you at your seat during the show while Watson and Holmes use all of the tricks in their arsenal to convey their far fetched tale. People can even use the Library through the show," adds Thomas.
Up next is their take on The Hound of the Baskervilles, a comedy-mystery in which the characters weave in and out of the audience, putting them at the centre of the unfolding events.
Great Northern Warehouse, 235 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EN / northernrep.co.uk / Saturday June 17 to Saturday September 16 - check website for specific dates / Preview tickets for June 17 to 19 £6; general admission £12
Peter Pan, Dunham Massey
This open-air production sees a new imagining of the classic tale Peter Pan, set in the stunning grounds of Dunham Massey.
Presented with Samuel French and in support of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, the timeless classic is brought to life in a brand new adaptation by award winning writer Laura Turner, with beautifully designed costumes, music and songs.
Dunham Massey, Woodhouse Ln, Altrincham WA14 4SJ / chapterhouse.org / Saturday August 12 / Adult £15; child £10
Party Skills for the End of the World, Centenary Building, Salford
Party Skills for the End of the World is a wild, immersive show that will teach you how to get by when the end comes and it’s time to celebrate everything that’s made life worth living.
Staged in the Centenary Building in Salford, it’s a site-specific show full of surprises; learn how mix the perfect martini, make balloon animals and look at all the good things in life with the impending collapse of civilisation.
Party Skills for the End of the World has been created especially for Manchester International Festival by Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari of cult theatre collective Shunt, one of the first groups to break out of theatres and make a new and exciting style of performance.
Centenary Building, University of Salford / mif17-events/party-skills-for-the-end-of-the-world / Tuesday June 27 to Sunday July 16 / tickets previews June 27 to 29 £25 ; general admission £30
A Midsummer Night's Dream , Heaton Park and Hall
Heaton Park and Hall becomes the picturesque stage for the Feelgood's production of A Midusmmer Night's Dream.
Audiences will be charmed by music from Handel to Oasis as the cast sing, dance and act their way around the park before heading inside the spectacular Hall for the grand finale of the three weddings.
With 22 years experience under their belts, Feelgood Theatre Productions have been described as the jewel in Manchester's theatrical crown, and have hosted shows ranging from The Wizard of Oz to Robin Hood.
21 Lindum Ave , Manchester , Lancashire , M25 2GT / j umblebee.co.uk/amidsummernightsdream/ Thursday July 20 to Saturday August 6 / Adults £16; concessions £12 (under 16, over 65, student, disabled); Family of two adults two children £50
Operation Black Antler, a secret location in Manchester
Exploring the murky world of undercover surveillance, Operation Black Antler, continues HOME’s reputation for presenting site-specific work. A sell-out at last year’s Brighton Festival, this show sets out to investigate the moral corruption that develops with the use of undercover officers.
Already running in secret locations across Manchester since last week, there's just time to catch the last few performances, runs until Saturday June 17.
Site specific TBC / homemcr.org/production/operation-black-antler / Wednesday June 7 to Saturday June 17 / tickets £20
WE WERE TOLD THERE WAS DANCING
The award-winning Royal Exchange Theatre Young Company present the World Premiere WE WERE TOLD THERE WAS DANCING. Created by The Company and directed by Matt Hassall it marks the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act that began the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1957 in England and Wales. Following the sell-out successes of THE FACTORY and NOTHING the Young Company create a piece that celebrates the radical individuals that changed our future.
Royal Exchange, Manchester / royalexchange.co.uk / Wednesday August 16 to Sunday August 20 / performance times and ticket prices TBC
The Crystal Maze, Old Granada Studios
This might seem off-piste, but ask actor and founder Tom Lionetti-Maguire and he'll say that The Crystal Maze is best seen as a piece of immersive theatre.
"You can't just put Maxine Peake in a different dress in a different play and expect it to be great. It's not good enough," Tom says about mainstream theatre.
"People are really discerning, people expect more - that scares some companies, but when it works, it really works."
In the vast building, teams of eight are joined by a vivacious actor, who guides players around the zones and games, giving (un)helpful advice where necesary.
The Crystal Maze officially launched in Manchester on April 1, and tickets are now on sale for £45 - £55 per person at thecrystalmazemanchester.seetickets.com .
Old Granada Studios, Lower Byrom Street, Manchester M3 4AP / the-crystal-maze.com / Now open Thursday to Saturday, visit the website for different time slots / tickets from £30 to £50 plus booking fees