Review: #BeMoreMartyn @ Hope Mill Theatre

#BeMoreMartyn paid an emotional tribute to Manchester attack victim, Martyn Hett, at the Hope Mill Theatre on Sunday and Monday – now play director, Adam Zane, is looking to “spread the message” nationally.

The event-titled verbatim play, performed by the Hope Theatre Company, showcased the memories of eight of Martyn’s close friends, expressing what #BeMoreMartyn meant to them.

Ex-Coronation Street star, Julie Hesmondhalgh, who played Hayley Cropper, introduced the event’s second night and told MM it “makes you want to live better.”

Each section of the performance was cleverly accompanied by video clips, including prank recordings, the infamous Audrey Roberts noise and Martyn’s cameo on Come Dine with Me.

The multi-coloured, LGBT-themed lighting shone down on heart-warmingly hilarious stories of Martyn’s annual Eurovision parties, crazy nights on Manchester’s Canal Street and single-handedly selling out a Michelle McManus gig.

More reflective interview extracts were spotlighted to emphasise how Martyn’s willingness to be himself encouraged his friends to follow suite.

The seamless transition from each individual’s memories created the feeling the characters were in conversation with each other, leading audience members to forget the piece was crafted from various interviews.

A minimal set, focused around a recreation of Martyn’s simplistic in-flat bar named ‘The Frigg’, ensured the comedic anecdotes and more serious expressions of Martyn’s impact took centre stage.

The live band, fronted by Keeley Fitzgerald with Martyn’s close friend Rob King the guest singer, also performed a mixture of upbeat and touching renditions to link the narrative together.

Rob closed the show with Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, a song Martyn asked to be dedicated to him a few years ago on social media.

Writer and director, Adam Zane, revealed plans to retell the tales to a much larger audience next year.

Adam announced: “It’s going to be in May, for a week, we’re then looking to tour it nationally, hopefully go to London and around the UK, to spread the message far and wide.”

He explained how everyone involved has been touched by Martyn’s story. 

“We feel like we’ve spent time with Martyn, we know him a little bit better, and I think we’re all inspired. We reflected what an incredible young man he was.

“He made a real effort with friends to include them and it has made me want to speak to friends I haven’t seen for months.”

On Sunday evening, the eight friends portrayed in the play watched their memories be performed and Adam gave an insight into one of the friend’s reactions.

“They said that it was like spending a couple of hours with Martyn, some of them said it felt quite therapeutic to actually be with a group of people sharing memories,” he said.

“Martyn’s friends want to continue his legacy and that message of being more Martyn. We want to share that, and people should find that out for themselves.”

Julie Hesmondhalgh, who attended Martyn’s funeral and vigil, told MM how overwhelmed she was by the evening.

“I couldn’t have anticipated what it would be like to watch it and hear it, all his friends and partners words, with his family sitting there as well.

“It was so powerful and so moving on such a beautiful night and it does really make you want to live better, but in a very light way.”

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