The Hypocrite…

365/17. Daily notes from the City of Culture.

The Hypocrite : Hull Truck / RSC

The early ‘hot ticket’ in Hull’s 2017 City of Culture year, Richard Bean’s bawdy, filthy, sex farce cum history lesson has sold out its run on Ferensway and much is being made that over a third of those ticket purchasers have never visited Hull Truck before. So it was nice to bag a pair of comps for World Premiere night and join the capacity crowd to experience the first production, a co-pro with the RSC no less, in Truck’s exceptional year of drama. It’s been a while since there’s been such an anticipatory buzz in this particular auditorium; people came for something special and were up for a good night out.

Bean takes the farcical events of 1642-43, when King Charles I was refused entry to Hull, thus sparking the English Civil War, and cleverly crunches 14 months into three days, crams the stage with characters, flexes his word play muscles, gets everyone running around the building, drops people into the coal cellar regularly and revels in the Hullness of the story, while also throwing in Pythonesque coconut shells as horses, getting away with an extraordinary level of sexism and revisiting some of his old gags. Someone somewhere will be saying it’s a ‘proper Hull Truck show’ and will be trying to work out why they laughed so hard at the mere mention of North Ferriby. Just like the old days.

Bean moves beyond the pub version of the events covered, his hands no doubt having been inserted into white gloves to handle old documents, and amid all the silliness and smut and gags there’s quite a lot that can be learned from this account, although it certainly doesn’t purport to be a documentary.

The play starts with the epilogue, fitting for the world turned upside down depicted and, when things get going after the beheading of Sir John Hotham and the play’s conventions are made clear, The Hypocrite is a breathless affair for, gulp, pretty much all of its almost three hours, with the cast of 20 worked hard by Bean and directer Phillip Breen. The contemporary political resonances are there, as you’d expect from this writer, although mostly in the songs peppered throughout.

Good to see so many actors connected with Truck and Hull in the cast, and again people will feel, in some respects, like they’re pulling on a pair of old socks at the sight of Martin Barrass, Paul Popplewell, Matt Sutton and Adrian Hood, delight at the long-overdue (but he’s been busy) return of Mark Addy and be chuffed, as I was, to see the brilliant Laura Elsworthy and Rachel Dale on this stage.

The Hypocrite is a good night out. It’s very funny. It’s very Beany. It feels very ‘big’. It’s most definitely a sex farce, but one that is self-reflexive and meta enough to get away with some crazy anachronisms and direct audience address.

Looking forward to designer Max Jones’ filthy, big cock-filled Inigo Jones’ bed going on ebay at some point in the future. It would look nice in a flat on the Thornton Estate.

#challengehull week 5…

365/17. Daily notes from the City of Culture.

Week #5 of Challenge Hull came from 2017’s Learning and Participation Team.

Take a piece of paper and see what you can turn it into. Fold it, tear it, cut it (but watch your fingers!) What can you create? Perhaps you could make your own piece of art, desk decoration or mini sculpture – or maybe something entirely different from your own imagination.

I was on a train. And the last time I tore pieces of paper on a train – making face masks from the pages of a newspaper magazine supplement, and posing with ripped out photographs of sandwiches – I drew a few frowns and left the table I was sat at in a right state. So I decided to scrawl out a ‘cut out and make it’ night scene of The Deep for someone else to make a mess with. I left it behind when I got off at Paragon. There’s a reason I don’t draw very often.

Challenge Hull Week 5


Coffee dregs…

365/17. Daily notes from the City of Culture.

Lines of Thought at the University of Hull

Finally went to see Lines of Thought, the British Museum’s touring exhibition currently in the Brynmor Jones Library exhibition space at the University of Hull. “The greatest gathering of artistic talent ever seen in Hull, in one exhibition,” revealing some of the creative process of Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Dürer, Degas and a load of other big names.

Having stared up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel a couple of weeks ago, I’m still going through a period of reacclimatising when it comes to looking at anything not on an epic scale, but it was very interesting to see these drawings, etchings, sketches and doodles. I had to stop short of telling everyone in the room, as a I looked at Michelangelo’s Studies for the Last Judgement, that I’d seen the finished product, and it was a lot more mind-blowing than the black chalk on paper I was looking at.

I was most enamoured by the work of a writer. Victor Hugo produced nearly 3,000 drawings in his lifetime, which provided the impetus to let his imagination run riot when it came to putting pen to paper and his words in the right order. I love his choice of materials – soot, the occasional bit of ink and, most impressively, the dregs of his coffee.

I said to a woman staring at Hugo’s Landscape With A Castle (1857) that I now knew what I could do with all that leftover coffee that lurks at the bottom of mugs I have next to my laptop. “Ah yes,” she said, “but could you do something that good with them?” She’s clearly not seen the self portrait I did for #challengehull otherwise she’d have known the answer.


365/17. Daily notes from the City of Culture.

Worth remembering, in the clamour for tickets…

“I am afraid that our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, and that we have more curiosity than understanding. We grasp at everything, but catch nothing except wind.”

Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays

City of vultures…

365/17. Daily notes from the City of Culture.

“You ever get the feeling the world’s filling up with bastards? I do. What I want to know is what happens when all the bastards run out of people to crap on? What happens when all that’s left in the world is bastards? . .”

William Hoffman – A Place For My Head

Heads Up Festival tickets…

365/17. Daily notes from the City of Culture.

We’ve got another Heads Up Festival on the way. This will be number eight and the festival’s now in its fourth year. Yeah, we were doing culture in Hull before it was fashionable. Tickets are on sale. Theatre Ad Infinitum, Tom Penn, Shannon Yee and Will Dickie are all coming to Hull because of us (and Battersea Arts Centre, and the desire of those artists to rock up here). And we’ve also got Theatre Hullabaloo, Blazons and Indigo Moon too. Not too shabby at all.


365/17. Daily notes from the City of Culture.


So off we trotted to the Ferens, to see where a £5.2m revamp and the £1.6m acquisition of a 14th-century painting by Pietro Lorenzetti gets you.

We’ve been in Rome, so everything seems small, especially a panel from an altarpiece. And the lighting ensures there’s an inescapable glare that means you have to look at Christ Between Saint Paul and Saint Peter side-on, or squint a lot, to actually see the thing properly. But I like it. And the pieces of work in the room around it provide the context to its value. Obviously the money would have been better spent on ensuring bin collections in the city are increased*.

The gallery does look and feel fab, I like the re-positioning of the shop and the entrance feels more welcoming and open but the Ferens also remains the familiar old place that we’ve slid around the floors of for years. Can’t help feeling that paint’s more expensive that when I last purchased any but whoever picked from the swatches at the DIY shop made the right choice of colour for the walls.

If this feels like a not very well-considered reflection on a multi-million pound reworking of a publicly funded asset, that’s because it is. We dashed in 90 minutes before closing time, and had one of those difficult to please child units with us who did, actually, embrace the hands-on, tactile offerings and things filled with coloured liquid (see above image) that wheelchair users are invited, by City of Culture volunteers, to ride over in the new space where the shop used to be. And as much as I love the essential open exhibition that’s on at the moment, I’m not sure if it shows the temporary exhibition spaces to their best effect.

We need to go back, and have a more mindful few hours in the place, really. But I’m impressed, generally, with its aceness. Go along when you’re next in the city – the Feren’s full of most excellent works of art and the place will surprise you.

*The reliability and quantity of bin collections by Hull City Council are the standard unit of measuring the worth of spend on artistic work in Hull.

Theatre sorts…

365/17. Daily notes from the City of Culture.

Hull's theatre sorts

I still have no idea why but I was summoned to a photocall, along with just about everyone else that makes theatre in the city of Hull. It was a veritable who’s who of relatively recent University of Hull graduates, and us. And it was far too early in the morning for anyone to make sense of why we were there, or even talk coherently. One free cup of Thieving Harry’s coffee was not quite enough.

We were told to not “wear any massive Pepsi/Nike etc logos or anything like that.”  Everyone complied with this request, probably as it was too late to go out and purchase brands that we’d never go anywhere near. And we got to fuck about on the rooftop garden of the new Humber Street Gallery and lean on walls and doors down Humber Street while we pouted theatrically in the direction of a camera lens, looking mean and angry and subversive and revolutionary. Which is, of course, all fake.

There was no real drama of which to speak, just a lot of what the excessively large in number gig-theatre evangelists Middle Child (Hull theatre’s most successful five-a-side football squad. A lot of strength-in-depth on that bench) would refer to as ‘bantz’, which no doubt bodes well for the future.

#challengehull week 3…

365/17. Daily notes from the City of Culture.

Hull 2017 have teamed up with 64 Million Artists and community groups and organisations across Hull to set a weekly creative challenge to encourage everyone in the city to try something new.

This week’s challenge, courtesy of Hull WI – Apple Crumble and Stitch, is to ‘create an inspiring message’. So, in the true spirit of cultural theft, I’ve taken the important and inspiring Japanese idiomatic phrase (which sits atop this very site) and expanded my thoughts on it a little.

A creative life doesn’t take you down a linear path. There are lots of obstacles to climb over, lots of doors to break down and walls to smash through. You’ll be asked to make compromises. Inevitably there are going to be setbacks and rejections. Well fuck that. What’s important is how you channel your energy. You get knocked down, you make sure you get back up, kicking and screaming. It’s all worth fighting for. If you get knocked down seven times, be the one that gets up eight. Keep going, never give up. You’ve got something unique to say, it’s worth saying and that’s the only thing that matters;. nana karobi ya oki 七転び八起き