REVIEW: Vicky Foster
Middle Child are a group of super-talented beings; the next stage of human evolution. I’ve been convinced of this since I spent two hours in a tent with them last summer. So it’s safe to say I had a sense of excitement about Us Against Whatever hours before I got there.
Hull Truck was packed. I could tell before I even got inside the building, cos people were thronging about outside – and as soon as you got through the doors, there was a buzz. People have come to know that when they walk into a Middle Child show, they’re gonna be getting something a bit special. The set didn’t disappoint. The theatre had become a gig – customary for Middle Child’s evolutionary style of fusion-theatre – and the actors were on stage in character, faffing about on the instruments, and mingling with the crowd as we took our seats.
The whole thing had a modern Gothic circus feel – the make-up, costumes, set, the sassy ringmaster narrator – and if a story about Brexit isn’t modern Gothic, then I don’t know what is. I was already with them. The female-heavy cast helped keep me on-side, as did the central love-story between two female characters. But if those things hadn’t done it, the singing would have won me over – it was faultless, with some beautiful harmonies; commanding and tender in all the right places. The choreography was spot-on too, and the inevitable tension in the subject matter was relieved by a smidgen of humour here and there. It had everything.
I wouldn’t be honest if I said that some of the descriptions of Hull and its struggles made me uncomfortable. If I said that the heartbreaking scenes of racism in the city I love weren’t hard to watch, I’d be outright lying. But we all know they’re happening. Hull voted overwhelmingly to leave Europe and reports confirm that racist incidents here and across the country have increased. Middle Child didn’t shy away from this. They hit it head-on, and their portrayal of the white Hull lass who didn’t have to think about it gave me pause, especially as I had friends in the audience who I knew, only too well, we’re feeling the effects of Brexit full-force. Discomfort is an essential part of good art, in my opinion. It means you’re looking at something differently, from a new point of view. And that’s important.
In the interval, me and my mate discussed that we didn’t know how they were gonna tie everything up at the end. The answer? They didn’t. How could they? No-one knows what’s gonna happen next. We’re all stuck in this uncomfortable place where conflicts have been stirred, and no-one knows how to resolve them. And that’s right where Middle Child left us. But with this proviso: we’ve all got big hearts – here in this country, in this city and in that room. They ask that we use them to get through this. And right now, that’s probably the best we’ve got. Hats off to everyone involved. I honestly don’t know how they do it all. But I do know that I’m really glad they do.
Photos: Sam Taylor
Middle Child continues this weekend at Hull Truck Theatre.
Tickets available here: http://bit.ly/2uBaGuC