Manchester Fringe Festival Review: Shackles, The Boss

Knowing Andy Dickinson as a novelist, I wasn’t surprised that his talent for engrossing, hilarious dialogue captivated the audience of the King’s Arms studio. I defy any actor or wordsmith to enthral the same with the considerable challenge of a two-man play.

You have to question what design carries such an achievement. The chicken or the egg? Which kept us so immersed, Carl Thompson’s masterful portrayal as the tragic-comic Shackleton, or the playwright’s navigation, filling the studio with laughter within moments of stunned silence.

The stark set, if anything, added to the claustrophobic isolation of scenes in which Shackleton confesses to, bullies and confides in the 28 (or is it 46) year-old stowaway on his ill-fated expedition. You, the audience, are both crew, captive audience, confessional booth and diary page of the manic captain as his grip slips on his command and sensibilities.

No spoilers here. Suffice it to say the final scene encapsulates all a writer could hope to achieve when seeing their words brought to life.

A huge success and nothing but inspiring for the aspiring writers and actors in the audience. Such is the brilliance of the Manchester Fringe Festival; like a dandelion clock, you wonder what creative offspring spread when the lights came up in each studio and the crowds dispersed.