A Library Theatre production at Murrays' Mills

Hard Times

8th June - 2nd July 2011

For Sale

  • By Charles Dickens with an adaption written for the Library Theatre by Charles Way
  • £15 - £22

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.

Hard Times Performances

Wed 8 Jun 7:30pm Press Night £20 (£15)
Thu 9 Jun 7:30pm £20 (£15)
Fri 10 Jun 7:30pm £22
Sat 11 Jun 7:30pm £22
Tue 14 Jun 7:30pm £20 (£15)
Wed 15 Jun 7:30pm Signed Performance £20 (£15)
Thu 16 Jun 7:30pm £20 (£15)
Fri 17 Jun 7:30pm £22
Sat 18 Jun 7:30pm £22)
Tue 21 Jun 7:30pm £20 (£15)
Wed 22 Jun 7:30pm £20 (£15)
Thu 23 Jun 7:30pm £20 (£15)
Fri 24 Jun 7:30pm £22
Sat 25 Jun 7:30pm £22
Tue 28 Jun 7:30pm Signed Performance £20 (£15)
Wed 29 Jun 7:30pm £20 (£15)
Thu 30 Jun 7:30pm £20 (£15)
Fri 1 Jul 7:30pm £22
Sat 2 Jul 7:30pm £22

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

Library Theatre Company

The Cast

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

Production Crew

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

Related News & Blog Posts

Blog: Writing Times: Guest bloggers attend rehearsals

Posted on 10th May 2011

As part of our series of online events that will accompany the forthcoming production of Hard Times, we’ve invited four Library Theatre Twitter and Facebook foll...… Read more

Blog: Video: How Hard Times was made

Posted on 25th September 2011

This brand new documentary charts the Library Theatre Companies progress in 2011 as we put on one of the most adventurous productions ever staged in our 59 year history.… Read more

News: Hard Times round up

Posted on 3rd July 2011

Our production of Hard Times has reached its conclusion with the final performance on Saturday July 2nd 2011 and now the Library Theatre starts gearing up to stage a ...… Read more

News: Looking for Hard Times tickets?

Posted on 3rd June 2011

Whilst all advance sale tickets are now sold, we have a small number of tickets that will be available for sale on the day of each show.… Read more

Blog: Video: Take a peek behind the scenes

Posted on 25th May 2011

Part 3 of our series of short videos on the making of Hard Times is out now. We’re documenting the project as it happens, so each episode takes you right up to t...… Read more


Posted on 16th March 2011

We're recruiting a Community Company of actors to support the forthcoming production of Charles Dickens’s HARD TIMES. An amazing opportunity to experience l...… Read more

News: Hard Times casting announced

Posted on 26th April 2011

David Fleeshman to star as Thomas Gradgrind in Library Theatre Company production of Hard Times. David Fleeshman, one of the city’s best-known and respected actors,...… Read more

News: Seeking blog writers to attend Hard Times reheasals...

Posted on 13th April 2011

Announcing a unique opportunity for four people to observe rehearsals for Hard Times and write a blog about what they witness.… Read more

Comments on Hard Times

  1. I had the great pleasure of seeing 'Hard Times' last night and what a superb event it was! A perfect match of material and location, adding up to a truly absorbing experience. Well done, Library Theatre, for giving us not only great performances but also the opportunity to see inside one of the city's great historic buildings. A real treat! More, please!

    Said Peter Castree From Sale at 10:26am on 9th Jun 2011

  2. Saw Hard Times last night - thought it was a brilliant use of the the space and had a great evening. How about Hobson's Choice or An Inspector Calls at Murrays' Mill? The atmospherics of the place could really work well.

    Said Mark H Levy at 10:18am on 10th Jun 2011

  3. We were lucky enough to watch this brilliant production last night. Amazingly atmospheric with exceedingly good acting. Thanks to you all for a great and unique experience!

    Said Loo at 20:20pm on 10th Jun 2011

  4. Good luck to David Fleeshman, not that he'll need it. Top actor, always was, right from our days at drama school together. Hope to make it up there for the production. If not catch me on Facebook. All the best Ann

    Said Anne Bradley at 23:25pm on 11th Jun 2011

  5. Went to see Hard Times last night. Just brilliant! Please congratulate the actors, director and production team on a most wonderful and unforgetable experience.

    [PS: Did you hear the young people in the audience saying things like ' I never expected anything like this ']

    Said Kate Jelen From Work: Manchester Home:Hadfield at 15:50pm on 21st Jun 2011

  6. Thank-you to Chris Honer (and belated Happy Birthday!) for giving me the opportunity to benefit from a master class for theatre virgins like me, and to all the brilliant professional cast; back up staff, and my charismatic fellow volunteers who all helped to make this one of the highlights of my life in terms of enjoyment, fun, camaraderie, plus the pure satisfaction and pride in being involved in a wonderful dramatisation of a great classic of English Literature. I always knew it could be fun being miserable!

    Treasured personal memories will be enhanced by the photographic record I have fondly compiled. I appreciate being allowed to post these on Youtube under "Hard Times unofficial" and I hope others will enjoy looking at them.

    Said geoff field From community company member at 02:25am on 3rd Jul 2011

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