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Lost and Found

Submitted by on June 28, 2012 – 8:01 pmNo Comment

The temporary council office buildings became the temporary home for the Manchester Library Theatre. Manchester Lines lies between celebrating Manchester’s welcoming diversity and patronising senility. Manchester Library Theatre, once evicted from their home at the Central Reference Library, embraced their nomadic existence by performing in warehouses and local authority offices. This their latest offering starts in a lost and found office, where you are invited to record the item you have lost. ‘My mind’ seemed to be a smart reply, but glancing across to see that at least two other people had put the same response made me realise how predictable I have become. My daughter, my dog, my perspective were all much more poignant. Walking through a corridor displaying lost items, postcards, purses, stuffed cats then entering a circular area scattered with mismatched furniture, you had to fight to find a seat with a back or you were condemned to sit on a stool.

The play told us that this was a play about Manchester and Mancunians, well not so much Manchester as Chorlton. Beswick, Bradford and Blackley obviously belong to some far off place that lies somewhere north of Piccadilly Gardens.

I loved the eclectic mix of people in this play. A beautifully moving depiction of a loved one consumed by an ageing mind slipping in and out of senility. The Jamaican economic migrant dealing with abandonment issues. The mother losing her identity to the pain and guilt of a long-term hidden secret that should have stayed lost.

The brilliantly insightful discovery that finding a lost item at the lost and found office is an act of faith in your fellow man. The discoverer selflessly handing back a valuable item in the vain hope that the loser will have the belief that their fellow humans will act selflessly. The whole process based on the belief that humans are basically good.

Lost and found is a very not for profit notion, from a capitalist point of view the finder should expect a reward before handing over the lost item. The person that lost the item should be expected to pay for the privilege of having their lost item returned. Goodness still exists. People still hand in lost items out of the goodness of their heart.

That which is lost is not always findable. A lost soul, a lost love, a lost life. These ephemeral losses are much harder to overcome. The thought that one’s life has been a total waste of time and effort is soul destroying, is mind numbing, is depressingly depressing. The official keeper of the lost holds the goodness at bay. The goodness held in a found and handed in item, wanting to give its love to the distraught owner. But a life without love has nothing to give. There is nothing to find, there is no selfless act waiting to perform a miracle of pain to happiness.

The actors gave themselves to the role, pouring their lost loves and lost lives and lost happiness into the characters that portrayed the lives of many a soul. The fashion to draw a comparison between the landscape and the personal was needlessly drawn upon. The insightfulness to discover the relationship between lost and found and the existentialistic relationship inherent in each act of either finding and handing in, or losing and hoping that your lost item may be handed in, is all that is needed.

Artists are human and are also susceptible to the vagaries of a common sense. Despite this, Manchester Lines is balanced and beautiful. Thought provoking and alert. This many-flawed piece is as human as its audience.  

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