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Early Doors star opens up on ‘the last bastion of fringe theatre’ ahead of performance

A familiar face stars in the wonderful collection of short plays, JB Shorts, for its 24th edition
John Henshaw JB Shorts

JB Shorts, a superb showcase of short plays, is back for its 24th edition this year.

This Manchester institution features new work by emerging and established artists, including scriptwriters for Coronation StreetEmmerdale and Cold Feet.

The casts include John Henshaw (best known for Early Doors and Ken Loach’s Looking for Eric) and Darren Jeffries (Hollyoaks).

JB Shorts

JB shorts from 2023

When we reviewed the showcase at 53two last year, we said one of the main joys of the night was to: “Order a drink, sit down, relax and see which JB Short is going to be your favourite.”

How did JB Shorts begin?

It started as a fun idea among a group of TV writers. It has blossomed into a staple of the Manchester theatre scene, earning accolades and a devoted following over the years.

JB Shorts originated in the basement of a pub, Joshua Brooks, from which it derives its name.

Six friends, all writers for established TV shows wanted to see if they could still write for stage, and JB was born. Since then, JB Shorts has evolved into an award-winning Manchester institution, showcasing the talents of established and emerging playwrights alike.

This year’s line-up features another impressive array of plays and talent.

We caught up with John Henshaw for a brew and a biccy whilst he was in rehearsals and had a chat about this popular theatrical Manchester event.

Why do you think JB Shorts is so popular?

Where else can you go and see six world premieres for around a tenner and support local talent and a local theatre?

Tell us a bit about the short you are in

It is called Life Is No Joke and it’s written by Dave Simpson, and you follow the story of an ex-comedian’s son. He is in the midst of his mid-life crisis when he decides to embark on a career in comedy.

What have you seen recently in Manchester recently that you have enjoyed?

A Taste of Honey at The Royal Exchange. It’s a classic from a local lass that has weathered well.

What roles do most people recognise you for?

Recently, Jack Friar in the film The Keeper, Roy in The Cops, Meatball in the Ken Loach film Looking for Eric. But mostly, it’s Ken from Early Doors.

If someone reading this has never attended JB Shorts before, what might they expect?

Raw, original ‘in your face’ entertainment. JB Shorts is the last bastion of fringe theatre in Manchester. It is lifeblood for locally based actors, writers, production teams and technicians to scratch their itch.

JB Shorts 24 runs from 8th – 18th May. Book your tickets here 

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