Some things that might surprise you about the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

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The hustle and bustle of Manchester city centre can often be a distraction from some of the amazing buildings that we end up taking for granted, writes Simon Donohue.

Similarly, some of the buildings we visit are often so busy with people that it’s easy for function to get in the way of form – they become just a restaurant, bar or shop.

A perfect example is the Royal Exchange Theatre, which gets so packed on show nights that it can be difficult to pay much attention to the structure. That’s a real shame.

If you do get the chance, it’s well worth paying a visit on an afternoon when nothing much is happening. It’s much easier to soak in the full splendor of the surroundings when you’re not dodging theatre goers.

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A few things worth pointing out to the kids:

  • The fact that the theatre itself looks like an alien lunar lander crashed into the middle of an elegant stone structure – something that really does stop you in your tracks when you take time to remember how uniquely clever it is.
  • At the top of the wall at the St Ann’s Square side of the building, you’ll see the old exchange price board which used to display the going rate for silver and other precious commodities. It reveals something about how important Liverpool is in Manchester’s history too.
  • The elegant glass domes on the roof, with a gilded slogan beneath.
  • Look down, and when the theatre is empty you’ll see the brass plates featuring the names of patrons on the floor.

It’s an amazing space and a brilliant respite during a hectic shopping day or work break. Pop in next time you’re passing.