Box of Tricks presents


A new play by David Judge

Finalist for Alfred Fagon Award Best New Play of the Year 2017

Featured as one of the BBC’s theatre shows you won’t want to miss in 2019

“He’s got two Dads, my lad. One’s black. That makes him black. I suppose.”

Manchester, 1983. Dave loves Rod Stewart, Joanne and his Ford Capri. He’s all set for a new start. Only Joanne’s about to have someone else’s baby. Is Dave ready to become a Dad even though he’s not the father?

A punchy and poetic exploration of family, race, identity and love, SparkPlug is the story of a white man who becomes the adoptive father, mother and best friend of a mixed-race child, David.

Inspired by autobiographical events and exploring the playwright’s background as an actor and spoken word artist, SparkPlug is a lyrical and energetic monologue that examines what family means in today’s society.

★★★★★ “A rare example of concept, purpose and performance fusing successfully into one immersive production. Under Hannah Tyrell-Pinder’s direction, SparkPlug maintains pace and variety… [David] Judge’s performance is suitably complex and sincere… A well-written, well-conceived and impressively executed new play… Don’t miss it.” – North West End

★★★★ “The script is outstanding… Intensely moving and beautifully performed, SparkPlug is a play that rewards attention.” – The Reviews Hub

★★★★ “Based on autobiographical events, Dave’s story – funny, frequently sad but always engaging – is that of a complex and bewildering path through life, but his deep and passionate love for a son that’s not his own overcomes adversity… Heart-breaking yet inspirational stuff.” – Morning Star

“A well-told, detailed story, all told in a warm-hearted and often very funny way… Compellingly performed…  A lovingly crafted story that has been turned into a really interesting piece of theatre that is well worth seeing.” British Theatre Guide

“[A] moving autobiographical monologue exploring a special father and son bond… [David] Judge lovingly interweaves his home city of Manchester into the personal narrative with bittersweet comic effect.” – The Stage

★★★★ “As a self-proclaimed ‘launchpad for new talent’, Manchester-based Box of Tricks pride themselves on championing the next generation of playwrights, commissioning and developing ‘bold and original new plays from the most exciting new voices’… SparkPlug is a good fit for their remit… A punchy, poetic and provocative play.” – Northern Soul

“Passionate, powerful, very personal… Judge’s performance, hopping in and out of several minor characters, is a real tour de force with brilliant timing and conviction… Well deserving of the first night’s standing ovation.” – Theatre Reviews North

“A very deep and personal exploration of fatherhood… The content is excellent… A strong piece of theatre.” – The Greater Manchester Reviewer

“There is something that grounds this piece firmly and engages you throughout, and that is David Judge…It is never preachy, because it has a really naturalistic feel to it, which grips you.” – Canal Street

“A very personal story… A really impressive production… As a play [it] sparks debate about identity and how we see ourselves and how that is impacted by those around us.” – Live Art Alive

★★★★ “Spark Plug sums up everything that is good about theatre in this part of the world… [HOME] continues to provide a sanctuary for the region’s up and coming talent. What more could you ask for in a production? Mesmerising.” – Caught in the Act

“There are plays, productions, shows that you appreciate the work of, admire, praise, write about, commend. Then there are those that you actually want to frogmarch people into the theatre to see. Go immediately and see SparkPlug… A brilliant evening at the theatre.” – Honorary Manc

★★★★★ “David [is] brought to life by David Judge, an actor that should be on everyone’s radar… A one-man work of art… Outstanding from start to finish. You need to see it.” A Younger Theatre

“An extremely charismatic performance – flowing seamlessly between an engaging conversational tone, more abstract story telling, and raw emotional depths… Judge’s writing is poetic and powerfully direct. A vivid and compelling labour of love.” – Circles & Stalls

“The complexity of [David Judge’s] tale and his eloquent, passionate delivery command my total attention, and I’m transported into his world… Storytelling at its finest.” – Emma Hopley Reviews

“Judge is a gifted storyteller. His writing is elegant and poetical… An incredibly powerful piece of theatre. It is refreshing to see a play written and told by a working-class voice from Wythenshawe. I grew up in this neighbourhood, and still live there, so I loved seeing my hometown represented on stage!” – The Play’s The Thing

“[David] Judge’s performance is captivating, carrying the audience through the messy complexities of Dave’s life with energy and compassion… SparkPlug is a play about men, boys, race, sexuality, Manchester and cars. You’re unlikely to see a story quite like it at the theatre – I’d recommend you check it out if you can.” – Shewolf Manchester

“[David] Judge bought new and exciting ideas to a form that has proved popular in recent years… Accomplished.” – Mancunion

“[David] Judge is a powerful presence on stage – playing a host of characters – he fuses the inflection of spoken word artistry with accent play and mimicry… Exploring a range of characters on stage as a single performer is a tricky task but Judge manages to convey a multitude of emotions. A really interesting play.” – Upstaged Manchester

“Box of Tricks know how to pick their writers.” – What’s On Stage

★★★★ “Thrillingly theatrical.” – The Guardian (Tyrrell-Pinder’s production of Narvik)

★★★★ “A mighty miniature.” – The Times (Box of Tricks’ Plastic Figurines)

“A theatre company to watch.” – The Stage

Want to know more about Box of Tricks?

  • Recommended age 14+
  • Running time 80 mins (no interval)
  • This production contains flashing lights
  • This production contains strong language and use of racially offensive terms
  • For further information and specific content warnings, please contact our Box Office
  • £12.50 (conc. available)
  • Want to watch some theatre with your little one? Come along to the Parent and Baby performance of SparkPlug on Tues 19 Feb, 11:00