Entertainment, Interview, Manchester, News

Behind The Scenes at the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival: Operation Perfect Teaset

0 203

By Lucy Madeleine Watson

As part of the fourth annual Greater Manchester Fringe – a festival that celebrates comedy from all walks of life – Operation Perfect Teaset offers you a well-needed escape from reality. Afterwards, I’m able to sit down with one of the actors and discuss the show in more detail.

“All I know is that I’ve found my niche and I’m buzzing!” Hannah Blakeley explains as she sips her coke. Hannah, 23, is performing in Operation Perfect Teaset, a dark comedy sketch show with weirdly wonderful characters and a wicked sense of humour. “It’s that defining moment [as an actor] when you find something you have a true passion for!”

I walk into Gulivers in Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter on a Sunday night with no idea as to how the evening is going to pan out. Actors Hannah and Lynne [Payne] greet me at the door in character, and I settle into my seat with a drink in hand just as the lights dim.

Confusion sets in after thirty seconds. The actors are standing in a line on stage, staring uncomfortably into the audience, expressions blank. Nothing much is happening, yet giggles from several audience members interrupt the silence, and I know something hilarious is imminent.

Written by BBC-commissioned writer Sarah Glenister and co-writer Gareth Farnell, Operation Perfect Teaset is surreally wonderful yet darkly disturbing, strongly influenced by the likes of the Mighty Boosh and The League of Gentlemen – imagine an out of body experience set to an addictive soundtrack.

Just 60 minutes short, the show features the actors – Hannah Blakeley, Patrick McConnell and Lynne Payne – in an array of characters, from an anxious dancing Chili, to a domineering therapist shouting ‘Feel your breasts, Lucy!’ A touchy-feely film producer and drunken talk show host, and even an eloquently awkward tap dance that manages to steal the show.

11742697_953378904683209_2711254269943246098_n“I really enjoy playing the character Maureen,” Hannah decides, eventually, when I ask her which character is most fun to play. Maureen is a middle-aged contestant from Gainsley, on their satirical game show segment, What’s the Point? “I have a real soft spot for her naivety and unashamed love for life, even though she’s often in tragic situations.”

Undoubtedly, a highlight for the creative team was a three-week run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August of this year – the largest festival of its kind – where they were very well received and earned a four star rating from Edinburgh Live Review.

“The Edinburgh Fringe Festival was a fantastic, manic, wonderful, stressful whirlwind of an experience. I enjoyed it so much!” Hannah explains. “Even the hard parts like small audiences and handing out flyers in the blustery, Scottish rain. I love the atmosphere of the festival and hope we can go back.”

Following their success in Edinburgh, Operation Perfect Teaset returned to Manchester at the beginning of November to play three shows, performing in a more intimate setting and adhering to the rules of sophistication by dressing in all black, allowing the writing and acting to take centre stage.

“I love performing in Manchester,” Hannah says, originally from Stockport. “New writing is very much welcomed with open arms. You are always guaranteed a great vibe in a Manchester Fringe venue. Give me a pint of IPA and a reasonably sized audience in a cozy venue and I’m happy.”

Unquestionably, I am excited to learn there may be a future for the sketch show. “We are currently in talk with a director and hoping to film some sketches in the New Year,” Hannah says, beaming. “A tour is possibly on the cards as well but it’s all up in the air at the moment, so who knows what is around the corner. We love what we do and we want to keep pushing ourselves to show people what we can do!”

Visit their Facebook page here for more information or Tweet them @OPTset

Image credit to Nick Edwards.

Lucy is a first year Creative Writing student.

About the author / 


aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More News Stories:

  • Opinion: “Our real legacy at university is the friends we make along the way”

    We all prioritise different things in life: our relationships, academic achievement, and financial success. While these can be great catalysts for short and long-term goals, making us resilient,  fixating on these goals can become overwhelming, even detrimental. Focusing on what we feel we have to achieve can make it easy to lose sight of the present. This also applies to university life.

  • Reading and Leeds Festival 2024: The best bands to see this year

    Featured image: Georgina Hurdsfield Overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of choice on offer at this year’s Reading and Leeds Festival? Don’t worry, we’ve got you. We’ve trawled the lineups to bring you a cluster of acts to watch on the August bank holiday weekend. From jungle to riotous punk, there’s a bounty of brilliant bands…

  • Film Review: The Idea of You – A sappy feel-good rom-com

    Featured image: PA Media In this sappy, heart-warming rom-com, two lovers meet at Coachella as Solène (Anne Hathaway) takes her daughter to a meet and greet at the Californian music festival. Known for her iconic roles in The Devil Wears Prada (2006) and The Princess Diaries (2001), Hathaway plays the role of a 40-year-old divorcee…

  • Travel: Tips for multi-country trips abroad while keeping your bank account happy

    Featured image: Georgia Pearson The summer break from university is approaching and conversations about travel plans can be heard across campus. But with the cost of living at a high, students and young people are looking for cheaper ways to travel this summer. Travelling to multiple countries during one trip can be a budget-friendly way…