As Ralph has often been wont to say - "It's not just about the music." - So when a visit to Gullivers in Manchester was on the agenda, it wasn't for the sell-out Slow Readers Club gig on Saturday, but the (nearly sold-out) Take Back Theatre performance of Ten Takes On Hope on the Monday after.
The theatre company was created earlier this year as a response to the Tory Party Conference in Manchester and aims to produce quarterly script-in-hand performances and use theatre to make a positive change.
The evening was produced and coordinated by Grant Archer, Julie Hesmondhalgh and Becx Harrison with a view to exploring social issues and creating a springboard for debate with the audience, starting small conversations which ask big questions.
The audience was invited by Take Back Theatre to join the cast and writers in the bar after the show to achieve that very thing.
This was achieved ten-fold with some stellar script writing and performances which challenged not only what hope is, but what we can do to give hope.
The informal setting and script-in-hand nature of the evening somehow made the stories being told all the more poignant, dramatic or added to the humour of each individual piece.
Each vignette; written by professional writers, was inspired by A Summer Of Hope and each used different themes or personal stories very evocatively to engage the audience members.
Whether it was the humour artfully deployed in Fish (Jennifer Platt), The Hope Factor (Rebekah Harrison), Words On A Wing (Joshua Val Martin), Rock, Paper Scissors (Ian Kershaw) or Cut and Dried (Cathy Crabb), the poignancy of All Names Have Been Changed (Victoria Brazier), Marching On Stone (Gareth George) The Shoes (Louise Wallwein) and Born (Julie Hesmondhalgh) or the outstanding drama of Detention (Sandra Cole), each delivered the same thought-provoking message in its own style.
It's probably wrong to pick out individual performances however, special mentions do go to Luke Bailey, Jo Dankin and Rico Marshall.
The next event will be Take Back: Capital and will be in response to the budget and going on tonight's performance and the quality of writing and acting on display it'll be one not to be missed!