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Free Your Mind, Factory International , 2023
Photograph: Jeremy Coysten

Danny Boyle is directing a stage version of ‘The Matrix’ in Manchester

It’s the opening show for the new Factory International

Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski

Manchester’s Factory International is shaping up to be the most talked-about new arts centre in the UK when it opens next year. Before its programme even formally begins it’ll play host to a stunning-looking Yayoi Kusama retrospective as part of the 2023 Manchester International Festival. And its first commission proper is something even more eye-popping.

‘Free Your Mind’ is a theatrical retelling of The Matrix films, directed by Danny Boyle in his first live production since the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Sounds spectacular, right? Well it should be: we’re promised enormous sculpture sets from the great designer Es Devlin, hundreds of performers and dancers, and use made of the whole, huge building. 

If you’re expecting it to be ‘The Matrix: The Play’ then that doesn’t seem to actually be the case: although it has a script from the acclaimed writer Sabrina Mahfouz, it would appear that the basic idea is to plunge you into live recreations and reinterpretations of select scenes from the film series. So if we’ve read that right it’s not going to be particularly plot-focused, but a barrage of awesome spectacle designed to show us just what the new building is capable of with Boyle at the helm. And while it feels like a potentially slightly random time to do a Matrix spin-off, the films remain visually iconic: nothing says ‘cool’ like shades, leathers and a flipdown phone. Mr Anderson… welcome back!

‘Free Your Mind’ is at Factory International, Manchester, Oct 18-Nov 5 2023, £40, concs from £10. Tickets go on sale to the general public at 10am on October 6.

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