Theatre Test Tube : Versus the Silent Majority
at the Hull Truck Theatre Reviewed by Humber Mouth special guest reviewer - Broten.
This is our second special guest review. Many thanks to Broten for taking time out from his busy album preparation schedule to see the plays and to write up some thoughts. - Steven Hall
Broten studied Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University and is currently recording and performing with the alternative rock group 'FONDA 500', whose 4th studio album, 'Spectrumatronicalogical Sounds' is released 26th January 2004 on Gentle Electric Records.
Broten and the Play Review
Firstly, I am not a critic.
Secondly, I am not a writer.
Thirdly, this is not about me.
This is about Theatre Test Tube Vs. The Silent Majority. 10 plays, 7 writers, 4 actors, 1 director. This is short play territory.
I was kindly asked to write this review by Steven Hall, one of the authors involved in tonight's performances, as he quite wrongly pointed out that it would be artistically corrupt to review his own plays. I personally think he would have done a wonderful job, and frankly would have been more honest and critical than me. But there you go, you're stuck aren't you.
Before I begin, I must offer an apology to most of the writers and the four actors, as I am not going to review all of the plays. There were 10 of them, for goodness' sakes, and I have neither the time nor the fingers to review them all. Although, special mention should go to Dave Pitt and Philip Wincolmlee-Barnes, who's poems and play respectively deserve a review all of their own.
The first of the evening, The Duel, by Eugene Ionesco, was a tragicomic tale of two moustaches each one straining to cling to the upper lips of duelling Frenchman (theatre lights test even the strongest of glues and the stiffest of upper lips). Thankfully the actors kept the show together and not the thespian lip cement. A good start, then to a Saturday night. Moustaches, a duel and a crossdresser, ending with a stripshow.
My favourite play of the evening, called 'Yellow Matter Custard' by Steven Hall, focussed on two dogs. Randall, the leader and more intellectual of the pair, and Ralph the fat stupid dog, are in prison, presumably the dog-pound.
Like Beckett's famous tramps they seem to have no memory of how long they have been imprisoned. When Ralph asks how long they have been confined as he does every day, Randall gives the same answer, 6 days. In reality it is longer but as far as they know 6 days is the largest number there is. They are only dogs after all. They pass time and time passes. Also like the tramps, both dogs are dependant on one another. Randall needs Ralph's subserviency to qualify his superiority and Ralph needs Randall because with or without him he is a fat stupid dog.
Unlike Waiting for Godot, though, Yellow Matter Custard is good fun. The language used by the dogs is beautifully constructed, giving us a human translation of how man's best friends interact and react with their environment. The actors' movements (and the use of a leather belt for a tail) reflected the characters' caninity well without the need for getting on all fours and the floor space was used wisely, accentuating our heroes' confinement.
'Stop Singing-The Musical' by Jake Walker was great fun. A comical tale of an unfortunate but divinely gifted man who cannot speak and can only communicate through the medium of song. The songbound man takes us briefly through his life courtesy of his psychiatrists probing questions. The highlight for me and the rest of the audience came when we realise this curse is not only incurable but contagious, concluding with a nice section of four part harmonies and a little bit of counterpoint for the kids. Lovely.
Apart from the odd moment of thespian loviness, Saturday at Spring Street was a warming, comic and thoughtful production. Especially when you consider the acting troupe had only seen their stage a couple of hours prior to the performance, which I discovered later on in the evening during a chat with the cast which I made up.
A fine evening of entertainment, spoiled only by the fact that you probably weren't there.
Humber Mouth Interviews - Tony Petch: Vanishing Point By Nicholas Boldock
Tony Petch could be regarded, in the nicest possible way, as an elder statesman of poetry in Hull. He's certainly been around for a while now (and I'm sure he won't mind me pointing that out) and has been published in innumerable anthologies and magazines over the years. It comes as a surprise to discover that Vanishing Point is his first solo collection.
Reviews - Readers Day: Jake Arnott, Julia Darling, Patric Gale, James Nash By Humber Mouth Critic Steve Hall
Jake Arnott -
Author of the hugely (and rightfully) successful novel The Long Firm and its two sequels He Kills Coppers and truecrime, Arnott's work to date has explored crime, crime culture and criminals in stark, dirty, realistic and above all, disturbingly human manner. His novels stand as an important counterpoint to the brown tinted, stylised mockney gangster-ism of films like Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and ..
Humber Mouth Reviews - Shopping and F**king - Hull Truck Theatre - Friday 14th November By Cilla
I'm not sure when I've been more confused or out of my depth or maybe too tired or
something - but I didn't enjoy this evening at all. Maybe I should have been more suspicious when I saw the St. Johns Ambulance team with their resuscitation gear sitting in the audience.
After it was finished, I turned to my friend Ruth and said 'Can you explain that to me? I didn't get that at all? What was the story?' She looked back blankly and said 'I was hoping that maybe you could tell me'.
Humber Mouth Reviews - Thur 13th Nov Pooh Bear Reading Workshop Central Library By Steve Hall
Aimed at parents and carers, the workshop I attended was one of a number being run by the Pooh Bear Reading Assistance Society in various Hull libraries throughout the Humber Mouth festival.
We did a lot of exercises - we looked at how to identify various types of children's books by their covers, at how some children's books are structured with repetitions and rhymes to help young readers predict the story and learn to ..
People - The Humber Mouth By Maggie Hannan
When the first literature festival in Hull happened, organised by David Porter and John Osborne, I'd only been living in the city for about eighteen months, having arrived in a van with a dog, looking for somewhere to stay. I'd heard about the poetry readings which had been taking place in the city - the famous BÍte Noire readings - and which were reported to be drawing the largest audiences for poetry outside of London.