Theatre Review: SPINACH – The Edge Theatre, Manchester

Fast-paced, funny, and mysterious, SPINACH is the perfect mix of music and comedy with an unusual, twisting storyline.

4 out of 5 stars

Manchester’s The Edge Theatre and Arts Centre celebrates its 10th anniversary with two-week run of Janine Waters’ critically acclaimed musical SPINACH, which coincidentally, also celebrates its 10th year anniversary.

Upon entering the auditorium, the audience’s attention is captured by two individuals tied back-to-back on chairs in a dark setting, accompanied by the faint sound of dripping water. A sense of mystery falls across the room as the house lights go down and it’s time for this all-sung musical comedy to begin.

SPINACH opens with two young protagonists waking up on their chairs, clueless as to how they got there. Londoner journalist Kate (Charlotte Linighan) and Mancunian pharmaceutical worker Tom (Joe Parker) assume they have been kidnapped, but without any memory of how or why they might have been kidnapped.

As their history unfolds, we witness snippets of memory through flashbacks and conversations paired with bickering and character-revealing slips. Even at the plot’s most pinnacle points, the script continues to deliver quick witted lines at the perfect moments. It’s easy to forget the cast are even singing as you a drawn into Waters story and Simon Waters’ exceptional lyrics and score.

Joe Parker and Charlotte Linighan bringing strong chemistry to life throughout in the lead roles as the trapped couple. They do a superb job of telling their character’s backstories, switching between the present and the flashbacks seamlessly.

SPINACH was the first show that this reviewer ever saw in Manchester, back when it premiered at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre in 2011. It is amazing to see Craig Whittaker reprise his role of Darren, a character who comes with an unexpected twist. He plays each side of him brilliantly.

Darren’s colleague Maureen, played by Rachael McGuinness, also gives a strong performance of her character – bringing a stunning voice and the perfect amount of comedy to the unusual, twisting storyline.

The play runs for 80 minutes without an interval, an incredible feat for a cast of four who are singing the entire thing, backed by Lawrence Woof on piano and Bess Shooter on saxophone.

Even if think musicals aren’t for you, give SPINACH a go. It’s fast-paced, funny, and mysterious. You’ll be smiling throughout.

SPINACH runs at The Edge Theatre and Arts Centre, Manchester until 18th December 2021.