Dickens classic brought to life by Hull Truck Youth Theatre

Published: Friday 18th August 2017 by Rich Sutherland

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Hull Truck Theatre has pulled out all the stops for its production of Our Mutual Friend.

The show is an adaptation of the Dickens classic of the same name, relocated to a Hull setting in tribute to our year as the UK City of Culture.

Like in the book, a lot of the action is focused around the a river, which in this instance is the Humber rather than the Thames. Other environments include stately homes, working class slums and the rubbish tip, giving it a truly Dickensian feel.

“It was Dickens’ last novel,” says Director Tom Bellerby, “and I think you can tell he was including a lot of the motifs that had always worked for him.”

Hull Truck’s production sees over 50 members of its youth theatre take to the stage to deliver a story of epic proportions.

“Were setting the bar high,” adds Tom, “and they’re absolutely rising to the challenge.”

The show begins with the body of a young man found bobbing in the water. Discovered by his peers, one of the group begins to read from a copy of Our Mutual Friend, which seems to mirror the relationship they had with him.

What’s particularly interesting is that the modern day cast members wear monochrome hoodies, whilst the book’s characters are in full Victorian garb. This juxtaposition of costume actually helps to blur the line between time periods, with the working classes of 1865 and the youths of 2017 looking equally drab yet full of strength and conviction.

As for the Dickensian characters, there are some real corkers. Harry Murdoch and Leah Andrew play Mr and Mrs Lammle, a scheming pair without scruples and a shared self-serving laugh that fills the rafters.

Annie Lishman is excellent as Silas Wegg, a miserable old man with a wooden leg, whose driving factor is his overall sense of disappointment with the world.

Other notable performances come from Joe Beckett, Connor Axiotes and Sophie Bevan, who form a dangerous love triangle. Meanwhile, Laura Meredith, Sarah Magaharan, Rebecca Noyes, James Newton and Harriet Bell play a great range of characters that find themselves in some sticky situations.

One of the cast that deserves a special mention is Cole Green, who plays Mr Venus, a purveyor of stuffed beasts. His portrayal of a wily, outlandish and utterly Northern businessman hopelessly in love is utterly hilarious.

Our Mutual Friend is everything a Dickens play should be – fun, silly, over the top, full of intricate situations and intertwined lives.

This is your only opportunity to see Hull Truck’s Youth Theatre groups from 11+ unite on stage for an enormous production. Catch it while you can, as it only runs until this Saturday.

Evening tickets are £10-£15 and the Saturday matinee is £10, with concessions getting £3 off.

To book, call the box office on 01482 323638, or you can book online.

Photography: Chris Pepper

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Published: Friday 18th August 2017 by Rich Sutherland

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