You never know what stage design Hull Truck Theatre will surprise you with for any of its productions. And Tuesday evening was no exception.
As we theatregoers took our seats in a very busy Stage 1, the regulars among us would instantly notice the stage was now the centrepiece of a theatre in the round.
A very clever move as the production we were there to see, Pop Music, features just two actors, two small tables and chairs, plus loads of booze, meaning there was plenty of room for an all-round view.
The alcohol theme carried on up to the ceiling, from which hung dozens of upside-down wine goblets, some disguised as lights. Opaque in colour, they added interest to an otherwise sparse stage setting.
But who needed a fancy stage with actors of the calibre of Natalie Anderson (Happy Valley, Hollyoaks, to name just two of her screen credits) and likewise, David Ahmad (Ghosts, Doctors, the Frank Skinner Show).
The minute these two stepped on to the chequered-patterned stage, we knew we were in the presence of quality.
Anderson, as Kayla, and fellow guest, G, both describe themselves as “spare pricks” at the wedding they have both, separately, been invited to.
Kayla, gorgeous in a tight-fitting pink dress, with matching shoes and bag, catches the eye of the equally smart G, in his smart trousers, waistcoat, collar and tie.
They both need a drink to get through the throwing of the confetti, the toast to the bride and groom etc etc. Niceties over, Kayla prepares to leave until she hears the magic words from the wedding DJ – LET’S PARTY!
And she’s on that dance floor like a greyhound out of its trap. As the music plays – Simply Red, Ha Ha, Whitney Houston and many more 80s hits – her dancing gets wilder and wilder.
G is more cautious, until his favourite tunes (especially Britpop) play. Then he’s off, strutting his stuff.
All the while, copious amount of Jaeger bombs (Kayla), vodka, red and white wine loosen their bodies as well as their tongues. Kayla’s dress is now above her knees and she’s barefoot, while G’s tie is now around his head.
As the drink takes more and more hold, the pair reveal how their lives have panned out – Kayla has been married (to a man called Sam) and stayed local, while the unmarried G has a career in music, in London.
Then the atmosphere changes as G reveals he remembers Kayla as the leader of a gang of bullies who made his schooldays hell.
Pandora’s box of feelings is now well and truly open. Kayla admits to having nine extra-marital affairs to “feel alive” again, while G, grieving over the loss of his mother, still relives his bullied schooldays.
For 80 minutes, with no interval, this very talented pair hardly took a breath while sharing their life experiences with us in the rapt audience.
Their loud, clear voices never dimmed or tired. Admittedly, at times they were a wee bit too loud meaning some words weren’t so clear to me, but I blame my lugholes, not their diction).
On a stage setting that never changed, apart from the drink bottles emptying, the two “spare pricks”, warm to each other, as we in the audience showed our feelings with a heartfelt standing ovation.
I loved every madcap minute.
Running until Saturday, October 28th, 2023; 7.30pm nightly with 2pm matinees on Saturdays, 7th, 14th, 21st & 28th; Wednesdays, 18th & 25th and 11am baby-friendly performance (under 18 months) on Friday, 20th. Tickets cost from £10. Call (01482) 323638 or visit www.hulltruck.co.uk
Reviewer: Jackie Foottit
Reviewed: 10th October 2023
North West End UK Rating: