Delving into the lives of two queer friends, Sour Milk highlights how a turbulent world can affect those who are closest.

Greater Manchester Fringe will host the debut of Red Brick Theatre’s Production, Sour Milk.

Written and performed by Salford University graduates Abbey Hayes and Jonathan Mitchell, the pair have created an important piece of theatre, that explores the aids epidemic from a northern perspective.

Abbey Hayes stated, “We’ve seen many plays and parts of tv and film around the epidemic, but they weren’t revolved around anything northern or anything we could relate to”.

Jonathan Mitchell, added, “The north during the 1980s under the tenure of Margret Thatcher is a really interesting time and then you throw in the aids epidemic, under a tory rule it becomes something completely different to what it would be if it was set in London”.

Abbey Hayes, Jonathan Mitchell, Oliver Hurst, Matilda Phillipson, Sarah Johnson, and Alex Rose, all recently graduated from Salford University and decided to form ‘Red Brick Theatre’.

Director Oliver Hurst explained, “Graduating was a bit daunting and the idea of not knowing what to do and where to go. I thought if there’s ever a time to do it is now because you look at Manchester and you look at the underground music scene or even the film scene and photography scene, it’s really blooming at the minute”.

Based in and around Salford and Manchester, the company is comprised of theatre makers, actors, and technicians. With strong connections to the north, their aim is to create relatable northern theatre.

Writer Jonathan Mitchell stated, “It felt right to set Sour Milk in Manchester where we had studied and have a connection to”.

The Kitchen sink drama centres on the relationship between two queer friends, Mark and Ange, exploring the effect the turbulent decade has on their relationship.

Director Oliver Hurst stated, “It’s a play about a friendship rather than a play about the aids epidemic, so it kind of looks at the epidemic and the ongoings of that time through the lens of a friendship”.

Set in Ange’s one-bedroom apartment above a fish and chip shop, the play records the ongoings of their life within this one setting.

Hurst further added, “It’s a play about lifestyle, but it’s also about existence and the way they exist together. The setting of the play is all within Ange’s one-bedroom flat above a chippy in Salford, which I think invites the audience into their lifestyle”.

Although set against the political background of the 1980s, the play takes a different stance in approaching the aids epidemic.

Jonathan Mitchell explained, “Anytime you talk about sexual health and the stigma around HIV and Aids during the epidemic, it becomes political whether you like it or not. I think that’s what’s maybe different about our play to some of the important pieces of aids drama, is that a lot of them were written at a time where HIV and Aids was a different reality to what it is today.

I think the reality of it now is so different that our piece may not be politically driven but it’s still in a political world”.

As an emerging theatre company, Red Brick Theatre saw The Greater Manchester Fringe as a perfect opportunity to break themselves into the theatre world.

Oliver Hurst stated, “We wanted to be a part of something, we wanted to be involved in something. What’s great is that everyone who is involved kind of pushes each other. It makes ripples around the city and it’s brilliant”.

The show will be performed at AATMA from 27th-29th September and is now fully sold out.

Check out Red Brick Theatre on Instagram @redbricktheatre_ and Twitter @redbrick_t.

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