NEW Dawn Fades is a play about Joy Division and Manchester and Anthony H Wilson, as told by Lee Joseph's approximation of the smart-alec television journalist and music shaker-maker in Granada Reports mode.

Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis didn't make it to The 27 Club of Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin and Brian Jones, later to be joined by Cobain and Winehouse. He put a rope around his neck at 23, always fixated by dying young, according to his wife Debbie, ever since hearing Mott The Hoople's All The Young Dudes. "He was an artist," reasoned Wilson, as the young band tried to make sense of his self-inflicted death at the finale.

Brian Gorman's streetwise play doesn't come up with new explanations. Deborah Curtis's book Touching From A Distance and Anton Corbijn's 2007 film Control have both covered this subject matter previously, and this latest addition is more an appreciation of Curtis's troubled life and of the impact of the late Wilson, in his own way as important to Manchester's cultural fabric as Alan Bennett is to Leeds' weave.

If anything, the spirit is often closer to Michael Winterbottom's 2002 film 24 Hr Party People, another hymn or maybe paean to the Pendleton-born, Cambridge-educated Wilson's role in Manchester's nightlife.

The likes of Bill Bradshaw's ballsy bass player Peter Hook, Giles Bastow's gobby, cocksure band manger Rob Gretton and Sean Mason's alchemist producer Martin Hannett are humorous caricatures, while Phil Dennison's Roman commander and astronomer John Dee are somewhat OTT. However, both Michael Whittaker's romantic dreamer Curtis, eagerly reading of Manchester and rock's history, and Joseph's preening, pretentious yet perceptive Wilson, determined to set the cutting edge, are given more depth.

Gorman's dialogue sometimes lurches towards comic-book simplification, but it is full of brash wit, cultural savvy and both sadness and sensitivity in depicting Ian and Debbie's (Natalie Perry) declining marriage. Meanwhile, Curtis's rising tide of epilepsy can still shock when striking him in the play's brilliant re-creation of Joy Division's latterday concerts, where Whittaker's singing voice and juddering moves are ghostly in their accuracy.

Wilson, Hannett and Gretton have all passed away too, but as James Foster's production testifies, Ian Curtis and Joy Division's extraordinary music, so beyond its time and place yet a product of it too, lives on with the rising, rather than fading, of each dawn.

New Dawn Fades, A Play About Joy Division And Manchester, Leeds City Varieties Music Hall, tonight at 7.30pm. Box office: O113 243 0808 or