The second part of Hull Truck’s Hull Trilogy has the guts to tackle a very controversial subject, thanks to the pen of Janet Plater, it achieves plenty in this gritty drama about the effect of the sinking of the ship the show is named after.
The set design is the first thing that strikes you, allowing for it to show what life is like on the ocean wave, and what it’s like at home in Hull for the family in the story.
The cast of Hester Arden (Kay), Niall Costigan (Ian), Rachel Dale (Linda), Marc Graham (Davy), James Hornsby (Dad) and Sarah Parks (Mam) portray the reality of life for a family of fishermen, and their loved ones at home, who only see their ‘Three-Day-Millionaires, every three weeks, very strongly.
The strong dialogue keeps the story moving, showing 1970’s life as it genuinely was, and it’s thanks to this that when the knock on the door on 11 February 1974 arrives, you know there’s something wrong, and the dynamic on the stage visibly changes, with great resonance.
As the family became more desperate for news, the conspiracy theories, and indeed the humour, at that time are expertly handled, without going over the top, the body language and the discussions are perfectly pitched, the continuing desperation is superbly acted.
Arden is particularly powerful in her role, her discussions with Kay’s father are particularly poignant as the story unfolds.
Graham is also in strong form, he develops his character masterfully, his sense of occasional comedy timing is superb, his haunting returns to talk to his wife Linda, are heart-breakingly romantic, showing the true dependency of his wife on Davy and his character appeals to the audience on many levels in a powerful performance.
The second half is all set much further beyond the 1974 tragedy, starting in May 1997, it calls on a strong social history, which has clearly been very well researched, with one possible mistake.
It keeps asking questions, and the modern day affect of the loss of the lives of the men on the boat is keenly felt and communicated in dramatic fashion, and the importance of a particular scarf is also made more prevalent.
The use of radio announcements and video projection are also used in perfect quantities, updating the audience and showing what life at sea was like, without overdoing it.
The ending of this majestic production is also superbly displayed, it’s poignancy absolutely cannot escape you and drew many of the audience into a thoroughly deserved standing ovation for the entire cast of this outstanding, triumphant production.
The Gaul is on at Hull Truck Theatre until 29 October, tickets can be booked at the Box Office in the theatre on Ferensway, by calling 01482323638 or Online
WORDS | Ian Judson