It’s the early 1800s and Manchester is one of the most advanced cities in the world, overflowing with innovation. But the workers and craftsmen are being side-lined for profit. The world is shifting right under their feet. It’s time to come together, time for rebellion – but with spies in their midst, who can be trusted?
The Industrial Revolution was the original Northern Powerhouse, but not everyone bought into the future it promised. Angry workers, calling themselves Luddites, smashed the new machines that threatened their way of life, and were written off as enemies of progress. But their 19th-century complaint, that bosses were using technology as an excuse to beat down the workers, resonates now more strongly than ever.
Using 21st-century artefacts and technology, this vivid and passionate production shows how the Luddites helped inspire the birth of Manchester’s radical political identity – and how their long-misunderstood protests remain relevant today.
★★★★★ “a wonderful, thoughtful play, beautifully performed by a fine cast which breathes new life into an important, yet often overlooked part of working-class history” Morning Star
★★★★ “adroit use of technology … is just one striking feature of this devised show” The Observer
★★★★ “Meticulously researched and vividly realised … arresting retelling of a turbulent period in Manchester’s industrial history” The Stage
“a surprising undercurrent of urgency … powerfully serves to remind us that change is always possible, even now.” Circles&Stalls
Created by James Yeatman and Lauren Mooney
Director: James Yeatman
Dramaturg: Lauren Mooney
Set, Costume and Lights: Joshua Gadsby and Naomi Kuyck-Cohen
Sound Design: Pete Malkin
Cast: Amelda Brown, Nisa Cole, David Crellin, Reuben Johnson, Daniel Millar, Katie West
Production photography: Manuel Harlan
Trailer: Alfie Mulroy
Commissioned and produced by the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
★★★★ “A timely and relevant message to the architects of our Northern Powerhouse” North West End
★★★★ “you relate to and feel for all these characters … a surprisingly funny, inspired look at these events and people, and a wonderful, enjoyable night at the theatre” Frankly My Dear
“Kandinsky thrillingly evoke the rebellious hearsay of the time, as tales of the Luddites pass from mouth to mouth… The air crackles with defiance.” The Guardian