by Chloe McLaughlin
Deidre Barlow, Eurovision and Michelle McManus were just some of Martyn Hett’s favourite things, and all of them and more were featured in a new play that celebrated his life, #BeMoreMartyn, which premiered at The Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester in October. Martyn Hett was one of the unfortunate victims of the Manchester Terror attack which took place after an Ariana Grande concert on 22nd May. Martyn, who had been due to fly out to America the day after the concert, had attended the concert with his friend as a parting gift. Following the tragedy, tributes flooded in from family, friends, members of the public and Martyn’s favourite celebrities including Mariah Carey, Coronation Street stars and Ariana Grande herself.
The verbatim play was based on interviews from eight of Martyn’s closest friends and partner, Russell Hayward. The interviews in which they shared personal stories on how Martyn transformed their lives and inspired others, were then transcribed and made into a play by Hope Theatre Company, who hoped to inspire more people to #BeMoreMartyn.
You may be wondering what exactly it means to #BeMoreMartyn and Adam Zane, Artistic Director of Hope Theatre Company admits he didn’t quite know at first either.
“At the beginning of this project, we didn’t quite understand the power of Martyn and his influence on the people around him. Having spent 12 weeks speaking to his friends and family, we were in awe of how he transformed people. He changed the life of everybody he met and has since influenced so many more.”
The play featured tales from throughout Martyn’s life. From his crazy and exclusive Eurovision parties, his insistence on his Manchester based friends travelling to his in-home bar, The Frigg, in Stockport for pre-drinks to his television appearances on Come Dine With Me and Tattoo Fixers. The play also featured a selection of his viral Youtube videos and celebrated his love of music with live performances of some of his favourite songs by Manchester band, Sequin Sounds and Martyn’s close friend, Rob King.
The production was a huge success and sold out on both nights. Amongst the sell-out crowd were ex-Coronation Street stars Julie Hesmondalgh (Hayler Cropper) and Jennifer James (Geena Gregory) who both opened the show with heartfelt speeches.
Hesmondalgh, who is also a patron of Hope Theatre Company said “this verbatim piece beautifully captured the indefatigable spirit of a very special young man who somehow made the world sparkle a little brighter just by being in it. Beautifully staged and performed, it was a perfect tribute to him and to the city he loved, and left everyone present feeling like they wanted to live a little more fully, a little more proudly, a little less self-consciously, and a lot less seriously. A little more like Martyn.”
Martyn’s friends and family were also present at the premiere of the play and all agreed that the play perfectly encapsulated Martyn’s legacy.
Rachel Carter, one of Martyn’s friends said: “these incredibly talented people shared our memories of Martyn so sensitively. I have never laughed and cried so hard all at once. To have someone portray me in Martyn’s very own play is by far the weirdest thing to come from all this yet but i am honoured to have been a part of it and to have shared our stories. I could not be prouder of the legacy he has left behind.”
Due to the success of the night coproducers producers adam Zane and mike lee have decided to bring the play back for a week’s run in may at Hope Mill Theatre before it embarks
on a national tour. Mike explains the response was surreal.
“We were astounded by the response we received from the performances and we want to continue to tell Martyn’s story and take his legacy around the country.”
Keep an eye on Northern Life magazine in 2018 for our upcoming feature on the return of the play and for details of where you’ll be able to see it.