Hard Times

A Library Theatre production at Murrays' Mills
8th June - 2nd July 2011,
Charles Dickens with an adaption written for the Library Theatre by Charles Way

Hard Times is Charles Dickens’ novel of the industrial North West, a dramatic story of remarkable events in a 19th century mill town.

This unique production is staged in the atmospheric and authentic setting of Murrays’ Mills in Ancoats, where the audience is immersed into the world of Coketown. Circus, music, and a sometimes grotesquely comic edge all go into the rich mix of this truly Dickensian event.

For Hard Times, the Library Theatre Company acknowledges the support of Arts Council England, the European Regional Development Fund, and Modern History.

Ticket Details

Monday to Thursday £20 (£15 concessions)

Friday and Saturday £22

Hard Times is a promenade production and a strict entry time of 7pm 7.05pm, or 7.15pm be printed on your ticket for a pre show event.

The event ends at around 10.20pm.


  • Community Company: Geoff Field
  • Bounderby: Richard Heap
  • Community Company: Rob Ireland
  • Community Company: Andy Mantell
  • Sissy: Verity-May Henry
  • Community Company: Gary Marsh
  • Community Company: Chris Smith
  • Mrs Gradgrind / Mrs Pegler: Roberta Kerr
  • Community Company: Howard Totty
  • Community Company: Peter Towey
  • Louisa: Alice O’Connell
  • Mrs Sparsit / Stevens's Wife: Lynda Rooke
  • Bitzer: Arthur Wilson
  • Community Company: Diane Byrne
  • Community Company: Linda Carver
  • Community Company: Donna Cullen
  • Rachel: Mina Anwar
  • Community Company: Adiva Chandler
  • Community Company: Eleanor Frampton
  • Community Company: Rachel Katzenellenbogen
  • Community Company: Jennifer Keeble
  • Tom / Slackbridge: Gareth Cassidy
  • Community Company: Isabella Leung
  • Community Company: Alicia Lucas
  • Gradgrind: David Fleeshman
  • Community Company: Ylan Mackay
  • Community Company: Georgina O’Brien
  • Circus Artiste: Lucy Frost
  • Community Company: Beccy Simpson
  • Community Company: Julia Whitehead
  • Circus Artiste: Owen Gaynor
  • Community Company: Jeremy Nutter
  • Community Company: Mike Byrne
  • Mr M'Chockumchild / President / Harthouse: Richard Hand
  • Community Company: Gary Caroll
  • Blackpool / Sleary: David Crellin

Creative Team

  • Deputy Stage Manager: Ed Salt
  • Composor: Colin Sell
  • Circus Director: Mish Weaver
  • Project Manager: Sarah Rowland
  • Production Manager: Gareth Roberts
  • Assistant Lighting and Sound Technician: Daniel Stuart
  • Wardrobe Supervisor: Liz Horrigan
  • Sound Designer: Peter Rice
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Cassey Driver
  • Assistant Director: Elisa Amesbury
  • Director: Chris Honer
  • Designer: Judith Croft
  • Lighting Designer: Nick Richings
  • Company Stage Manager: Jamie Byron
  • Chief Technician: Avril Mason
  • Sound Supervisor: Paul Gregory
  • Technician: David Doyle

For the modern theatregoer, the journey to Murrays’ Mills is rewarding, thanks to this imaginative and enjoyable promenade production by the Library Theatre.

The Guardian

The audience strolls, walks and, at moments of heightened tension, almost runs to keep up with the action, swiftly flowing across the worn wooden boards of the mill floor. Charles Way’s adaptation daringly restructures Dickens’s plot, yet sticks to the motto of his lisping ringmaster Mr Sleary: “People mutht be amuthed.

The Observer

Director Chris Honer's promenade production is no gimmick. Rather it sweeps its audience, literally and emotionally, along the 75 metre mill-floor from scene to scene.

The Independent

This could well be the most original and engaging thing you will see this year.

The Jewish Chronicle

Hard Times was an ambitious project for this centre of theatrical excellence to undertake but with artistic director Chris Honer at the helm, anything is possible. The whole cast put in strong and affecting performances. Magnificent.

Messenger Newspapers

Chris Honer's production is moving, thoughtful and wonderfully drawn. It is a thoroughly enchanting evening and, with comfortable shoes on, it's a show not to be missed.


This unusual piece of theatre is well worth a visit as it works well as a production, contains some great performances, is often very funny and is in a style that is far from unique but is certainly different from most theatre productions you will have the chance to see.

The British Theatre Guide

The promenading aspect is the theatrical equivalent of a 3D film at the IMAX, allowing us to observe Dickens' gallery of grotesques at very close quarters – and the acting from the professional cast members is extraordinarily good.


Charles Way's adaptation and Chris Honer's sensitive direction keeps the story clear, the characters believable, and mirror Dickens' ability by ensuring the audience is hungry for the next plot development. Judith Croft's design recreates Victorian wealth and poverty living side-by-side and makes full use of the mill space.

Manchester Confidential

It's not like going to see any other play. Here the audience is in the thick of the action; you feel Tom rush past you to get away from his father's house; you sense Mrs Sparsit's eyes drilling through you to watch Louisa and James in a secret tryst, you see right into Stephen Blackpool's desperation through his trials and tribulations. With Hard Times, you really get the feeling that you're all in this together.

Laura Maley preview guest blogger

It was a multi-layered performance helped by the multi-level performance area of the mill and the authentic atmosphere. The mill has been empty for many years but was suddenly ringing with voices, footsteps, singing and the sounds of an appreciative audience. Perhaps the ghosts of the real mill workers were looking on in wonder at the performance.

Therese Wright preview guest blogger

This truly was an unforgettable night at the 'theatre' for me and I am so glad I had the chance to experience it, I only wish I could do so again.

Alison Mee preview guest blogger

The concentration of the actors was just incredible. They focused so entirely on each other and seemed utterly unaware of our presence.

Martine Frampton preview guest blogger

Everything seemed to come together, from the lighting challenges and sound effects to the various detailed sets scattered the length of the first floor.

Words & Fixtures

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