HOME presents

The Funfair

Simon Stephens' new version of Kasimir and Karoline by Ödön von Horváth

★★★★★ “Dirty, raucous, and aglitter with tawdry seduction.” – The Times

★★★★ “True, disturbing and wide-reaching… It is acted with panache.” – The Observer

★★★★ “Director Walter Meierjohann’s extraordinary, provocative production sets out to unsettle and disturb… He succeeds, horribly but triumphantly.” – The Mail on Sunday

★★★★★ “As a play it has it all… Ben Batt is outstanding as Cash… I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who loves the theatre.” – The Good Review

Our first theatre production is a world premiere – The Funfair. This new version of 20th century masterpiece Kasimir and Karoline is an extraordinarily savage and extraordinarily human exploration of the lives of the working-class people of Manchester at the height of the recession, adapted for us by Olivier-Award winning writer Simon Stephens (who also adapted The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time for the National Theatre). The original was written in the late 1920s, at a time of massive social unrest, when the economy was on everyone’s mind and politicians were fighting for power… timely themes for today too!

The story of Cash and Caroline, young lovers on the verge of a major breakup, The Funfair is a funny, twisting emotional rollercoaster ride through the loops, dips and highs of one night at the fairground.

Featuring a live band playing a soundtrack of iconic tracks, from Eddie Cochran to Iggy Pop, and a brilliant ensemble cast including Ben Batt (Shameless, Scott & Bailey) and Katie Moore (Misfits, The Paradise), The Funfair is directed by our Artistic Director of Theatre, Walter Meierjohann, and designed by Ti Green, who brought our beautiful, award-winning production of Romeo & Juliet to life at Victoria Baths last year.

The Funfair is a unique theatrical experience that will immerse you in all the colour, chaos and fun of the fair.

★★★★★ Dirty, raucous, and aglitter with tawdry seduction… This is not just an arresting production, it’s a powerful statement of artistic intent that launches this venue in passionate, swaggering, and provocative style. – The Times

An inspired choice to open Manchester’s new arts centre HOME… Simon Stephens’ script is excellent, peppered with bruising one-liners, and the nightmarish atmosphere of the fair, a metaphor for a society sick at its core, is powerfully evoked. The Funfair announces HOME’s ambitions as a centre for cutting-edge culture. – Financial Times

You can almost smell the candyfloss and chip fat in Ti Green’s atmospheric design… Visually lush and distinctive. – The Guardian

★★★★ Director Walter Meierjohann’s extraordinary, provocative production sets out to unsettle and disturb. He succeeds, horribly but triumphantly. – The Mail on Sunday

A bold statement of intent… Walter Meierjohann’s production glints with menace. – The Daily Telegraph

On HOME’s gigantic stage, designer Ti Green has conjured up the kind of demonic circus you’d expect to find down the back of a radiator in David Lynch’s Eraserhead or buried in the Twin Peaks woods… A show that pins HOME’s creative colours to the mast. – Manchester Evening News

★★★★ Director Walter Meierjohann twists our assumptions and allegiances inside out…At every turn, The Funfair subverts your liberal prejudices…Ti Green’s carnivalesque, white-face design lifts the fair out of grey concrete austerity and Max Runham leads a band of grotesques through a woozy rock’n’roll soundtrack, which suggests romance on the wane and tempers on the rise. – What’s On Stage

★★★★ True, disturbing and wide-reaching… it is acted with panache. – The Observer

Adding to the general sense of dislocation and carnival weirdness, proceedings are narrated by a classic carnival character Tiny (James Lusted), a garishly made up rock-band punctuate the action with live music, drunken revelers wander in and out of the proceedings and there’s even a Freakshow…It all looks fantastic and is full of real ‘wow!’ moments… HOME has arrived with quite a bang. – Manchester Theatre Awards

★★★★ Walter Meierjohann’s innovative staging demands our attention throughout… The fourteen-strong cast (plus a community ensemble) are very impressive indeed. – The Arts Shelf

Visually and aurally stunning… As a showcase for what the new theatre and production team are capable of producing, it is very impressive. – British Theatre Guide

To single out any actor would simply be an injustice to the rest of the cast, who all unquestionably unite the audience to this production… Visually striking, imposing, thought-provoking… Imparts you with the will to recommend. – Tameside Reporter

It’s easy to see why Stephens and artistic director Walter Meierjohann were drawn to this particular play….. choreographer Imogen Knight creates some of the production’s most striking images: the stop-start of bodies in the beer hall, pouring drink down their necks; a group of people united in a brief moment of wonder by a passing zeppelin, all clutching balloons. – The Stage

Everybody involved has clearly worked incredibly hard to make this something special… The play and production has much to celebrate… What really showed is everyone involved at HOME has something exciting to bring to the Manchester theatre scene, and that is thrilling. – The Public Reviews

The audio-visual effects were stunningly integrated and gave the play a nightmarish touch… Walter Meierjohann manages, again, to captivate the audience with an adaptation… A great opening of the new cultural centre HOME. – Mancunion

★★★★★ As a play it has it all; characters and situation, relationship and dialogue, comedy and tension… Ben Batt is outstanding as Cash, vicious and vulnerable and altogether human. It is, at times, a sensory overload of theatrical entertainment and a very fine example of that special recreation only the theatre can provide. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who loves the theatre. – The Good Review

There are some really great moments and stage-pictures. I’m not sure any production has ever come together more in a single moment than when the house band suddenly play Iggy Pop’s ‘The Passenger’. – Postcards From the Gods

HOME needed to start its theatrical life with something both highly imaginative but also grounded in a provocative analysis of contemporary life. The Funfair, directed by Walter Meierjohann, definitely fits the bill. – Weekend Notes

There wasn’t a weak performance in the sometimes thrilling cast. Two hours flew by. – Manchester Confidential

Technically, the staging is a triumph, often a feast for the eyes… The Funfair is a bold, sometimes spectacular show, and undoubtedly a statement of intent.- Northern Soul

A bold first production by HOME which makes me feel thrilled to be part of the Manchester theatre scene… An arresting showcase for HOME’s production capabilities which makes me very excited for the future. – Upstaged Manchester

Simon Stephens has done an incredible job of respecting the original while also making this a play about Manchester and the UK today… If HOME really is to be the new face of theatre in Manchester, there are some exciting times ahead. They’re already putting out more daring and original productions than many of their competitors. – The Manchester Review

The subject matter and the cast on stage can’t help but grab your attention for the duration… Manchester has a new central arts hub and we couldn’t be happier. – Entertainment Manchester

This is a captivating production… In many ways, The Funfair is breathtaking. It’s a visual flourish, setting the tone for a new, world-class arts centre. I had hoped before it opened that Manchester’s new arts home wouldn’t simply be ‘more of the same’, and director Walter Meierjohann ensures that The Funfair boldly leads us firmly away from that. – Cultural Shenanigans

A gritty, grimy drama… An explosive, entertaining production of an intriguing play. – Jildy Sauce

An enchanting night saturated with heightened emotions which was brought to life under the direction of Walter Meierjohann… Within My Locket

The stylised approach, the outbursts of naturalistic dialogue and episodes, the nightmarish/surreal quality to the piece and the total commitment of the cast is what The Funfair and HOME are about. HOME’S future on the Manchester theatre scene is assured and certainly to be welcomed and applauded. – TheatreWorld

Walter Meierjohann’s production inaugurates a season that reflects an abrasive and disassociated venture, aptly homed in a new building that’s close to the city centre… It’s a change that, judged by this opening, is likely to be bracing and challenging and unafraid to confront contemporary life’s rough edges. – Reviewsgate

★★★★★ A dazzling box of delights… Home really couldn’t have asked for a better opening salvo than this… An unqualified delight. Miss it and weep. – Bouquets and Brickbats

The Funfair looks and sounds great – the live band cracking out songs by Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran is lovely, evocative stuff. – Steve Stratford Reviews

A blaze of colour… Walter Meierjohann’s touch of genius gives the audience something to think about on a very special occasion. – Remote Goat

Designer Ti Green’s set is splendid and captivating, and it’s hard not to be swept up in the carousel when the sheer curtain becomes a zoetrope. The Funfair is an excellent jumping-off point for HOME… It demonstrates that HOME is willing to take a risk and go large when it comes to ambition. Don’t just watch this space – visit it. – Standard Issue

The production is visually stunning, the actors work hard and talented musicians create an engaging soundscape. – Morning Star

What marks this production out from anything else is Walter Meierjohann’s directing, which is brave, ambitious and different to what you would normally see in a Manchester theatre.  Innovative and exciting; if that’s how you like your theatre then this play is definitely not one to miss. There are talented people in the HOME set up, and this venue marks the start of something very exciting in Manchester. – Quiet Man Dave

Listen to what audiences thought on preview night

  • Suitable for ages 15+
  • Contains strong language
  • Running time 2 hours 15 mins (inc 25 min interval)

Preview: £10
Off Peak: £23 – £15
Peak: £26.50 – £18.50
Premium: £29.50 – £18.50