The Man on the Moor, Underbelly, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Max Dickins and Something for the Weekend
Max Dickins (writer), Oliver Senton (director), Chris Lince (video),
Chris Dickins
Running time

The real case of the ‘man on the moor’ caused considerable interest at the time, in part prompted by a series of reports on BBC Radio Four’s ‘World at One’ programme, each recording developments in the case of a man found dead on Saddleworth Moor who appeared to have no known relatives.

Some 200,000 folk were reported missing in 2016. The majority return, are found, make contact, yet every year 2,000 do not. Max Dickins’ one-person play is a skillful interweaving of fact and fiction which plays that hardest of theatrical confidence tricks, making the invented appear terribly real.

Losing his father at the age of ten, Dickins’ character has made the rest of his life a quest for answers, the same sort of answers as those sought by the vignette characters who people the self-help group he joins, all of whom seek to puzzle out why a loved one has unaccountably turned their back on them.

The body found on Saddleworth Moor was eventually identified, although several questions surrounding his death remain tantalisingly unanswered. Dickins’ character is only one among many real-life individuals who believed they might have had a connection to the deceased, going so far as to have DNA tests undertaken. It is this stubborn refusal to give up on those who may well have given up on them that Dickins resolutely examines.

‘The Man on the Moor’ is nonetheless made up of both shade and sunshine, particularly when Colin, surrogate step-Dad and wannabe Masterchef steps in with inappropriate cheerfulness. The character’s fellow self-helpers offer a rich diversity of response to their situations, touching and funny in spite of their sadness.

Dickins interweaves the factual and fictional in a masterly monologue that is both, in the best sense, highly entertaining and deeply thought provoking.

5-27 August, 3pm