Canterbury may have one of the world’s most famous cathedrals, but Manchester had the Hacienda. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, everybody who was anybody just had to be seen there. In Hacienda Tales, a group of modern-day pilgrims prepare prepare for a big night out.
The Hacienda Tales is a wordy piece with limited action and some interesting characters – rather like Chaucer’s original.
Julie very much thinks she’s somebody--she’s newly-wed and a first-timer at the club. Forever boasting that she’s lived in London (where she found her rich husband) she’s plastered in heavy make-up and set to make a big impression. Given that she’s so full of herself, she probably will--as long as she doesn’t open her gob and reveal what a dimwit she is. Annie Smith does a fine job in this role and provides the best humour in the play, particularly in scenes with Scott Harris (Edward). As this renaissance man who’s swallowed a dictionary and thinks he’s one of the Romantic poets, Harris delivers some great lines and is a joy to hear. Adam Baird, as the club’s drug dealer, Pardsy, also gets some great dialogue, though in a somewhat different form. Baird brings down-to-earth honesty to this role, revealed in his relationship with Claire, a closet drug addict and former school mate of Julie’s. In this role, Molly Cooke provides several impassioned speeches as she tries to deal with the mess around her. Till the very end, observer Paul (Jack Elhren) watches all this and has the final deconstructive say about all he’s heard.
The Hacienda Tales is a wordy piece with limited action and some interesting characters – rather like Chaucer’s original. For the audience, this connection is tenuous and has no effect on appreciating or understanding the play. Here, the Canterbury Tales structure is a writer’s prompt with no real purpose.