When you first hear the drip of a leaky pipe and step into a dimly-lit basement of Spinach to an unconscious man and woman tied together, you might be forgiven for thinking someone decided to put James Wan’s Saw on the stage. Instead, we’re gifted a madcap musical that covers everything from homelessness to the pharmaceutical industry—oh yeah, and halloumi kebabs.

It’s lights up at Chorlton’s The Edge Theatre and Arts Centre, which has just undergone a refurb prior to the welcome return of audiences. Stepping up to this gothic locale—and combined with the atmosphere and Spinach’s opening—you’d be fooled into assuming a night of terror is on the cards. Sides are split, but not in a George A. Romero kind of way.

Making its triumphant return, it’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since Spinach first made its mark on the thriller-musical scene at the Royal Exchange. That may be an admittedly small pool, but Spinach is a riot from start to finish. Our leads are Tom and Kate—two seeming strangers who wake up in this unknown prison while strapped back-to-back.

With memory loss clearly not from a night on the ale, the pair have to piece together their lives through the medium of song. Just trust us on this one. At no point during Spinach’s runtime is a single word uttered without a melody playing underneath. You’ve got to feel for lead actors Charlotte Linighan and Joe Parker, who belt out the lion’s share of the plot. 

Is this a star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, kind of thing? We won’t ruin that here, but safe to say, the chemistry fizzes between these two unlikely frenemies when things start to come into focus. Spending most of Spinach dashing around the set (however small it may be) has us surprised they can still sing their numbers without coming up for air. Speaking of coming up for air, you’ll need to between the raucous laughter that oozes from Janine Waters’ script.

Elsewhere, Rachel McGuinness plays the scene-stealing Maureen, who comes across a bit like Celia Imrie’s Philippa in Dinnerladies. Rounding off the cast, Craig Whittaker is the bald and bearded Darren who towers above the rest. As you tap your toes along to Simon Water’s music, highlights include Maureen’s rendition of a song about scrubbing the areas even your mother hasn’t seen. It’s something you might expect Victoria Wood to belt out. Also, look out for a pretty nailed Popeye impression when you least expect it.

Things come to a suitably tuneful ending as the mystery is solved and these frankly bonkers 80 minutes wind down. There’s something poignant about Spinach returning to its home, and even though we’re sure mentions of London locales probably got a cheer when it was on the stage at the capital’s Kings Head Theatre back in the day, you’ll let out an internal woop when Deangste gets the nod. With rapturous applause from the crowd, it’s off home for a well-earned kebab. Halloumi is optional if you’re lactose intolerant. 

Spinach is playing at The Edge Theatre and Arts Centre until December 18. You can pick up tickets using the button below. 

A Manchester Wire Partnership post
Fri 3 Dec - Sat 18 Dec, The Edge,
Manchester Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9JG
Tom Chapman
Published on:
Fri 3 Dec 2021