RING AROUND THE HUMBER
by Richard Vergette, Morgan Sproxton, Nick Lane, Sarah Davies.
Hull Truck Theatre 50 Ferensway HU2 8LB To 9 July 2011.
Runs 2hr 25min One interval.
TICKETS: 01482 323638.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 7 July.
Ring resounds through the generations.
Sometimes an idea has a significance beyond its parts. There’s nothing specifically outstanding in Ring Around the Humber – though the performances are secure enough – but the impact of four stages during the journey of a ring through 20th-century Hull accumulates owing to the lives it touches from the 1940s to the near-future.
These lives are ordinary and unglamorous; yet they help make a city, even one so downbeat about itself. Moments of love and hope are bright flashes in the monotony of existences which are given point by the human spirits living them.
First seen in 1941, during Richard Vergette’s Harry’s War, the ring, with its embedded 1912 George V sovereign, already has a history when jeweller and ARP-warden Harry sells it cheap to a determined young woman. Her love brightens her life, while Harry realises she’s the daughter of his former love during an encounter that brings completeness to his life.
A generation on, and Morgan Sproxton in Dear Paul McCartney shows young Sandy chafing against dreary home life in 1964. An invalid father upstairs rules her sister’s life, and the manager of the millinery department where she works visits Paris on business, emphasising how Sandy’s 6th-form longings for intellect and excitement are cramped by the realities of a home-life set to the pace of an older world.
Unsurprisingly, freedom sounds out through The Beatles, Sandy seeing herself as Paul McCartney’s ideal partner. But she’s not leaving home yet, though the alternative, off the trawlers, seems a life-sentence in waiting.
By the second half, the writers’ variety becomes increasingly evident as Truck regular Nick Lane diverts the expected ending of Sproxton’s play, setting the rumbles surrounding a leave-taking in a family during industrially depressed 1987 against The Storm lashing outside.
Finally, Sarah Davies’ Lost and Found gives a swift-moving poetic conclusion in 2013, avoiding over-neatness yet encapsulating a sense of how life creates a sense of the unknowable, as the story that started amid wartime uncertainties, moving through dreams of departure and fragmentation of family life in depressed times, ends with the final declaration “I’m a stranger here myself”.
Cast: Robert Beck, Amy Thompson, Marc Pickering, Lisa Howard.
Director: Nick Lane.
Designer/Lighting: Graham Kirk.
Sound: Matt Thompson.
Costume: Siân Thomas.