Hull Truck proudly celebrates its 30th anniversary with a new John Godber production, which follows the personal problems surrounding a family through 45 years in their northern England household. Godber’s drama reflects the life of May, (Judith Barker) and Ted (Dicken Ashworth) as they unravel the complications they have with their son Jack (Steve Huison). Difficulties with the neighbours, work strikes, ill health and the jumbled emotions attached to moving on in life are all prevalent here too.
The play is performed over two separate stages, designed by Pip Leckenby, and both do full justice to the Hull Truck style. The first set finds us in Ted and May’s back garden. Here we are introduced to the various characters, via flashbacks from the 1950s to the present day, whilst May is preparing to move to the Costa del Calm after Ted’s death. The second staging takes us inside the house where, cleverly, we are shown corresponding events that have taken place during the intervening phases.
Judith Barker's May is the archetypal English grandmother while Steve Huison's Jack typifies the sympathetic English teacher with literary ambitions. Beyond these two notable performances lies a quality ensemble production, shot through with confidence. Charlie Mudie as Sonja, Sarah Parks playing Sharon/Sylvia, Andrew Pelos as Steve and Adrian Hood as Lance all contribute quality efforts. Each performer comfortably handles the changing narrative, and all distinguish themselves with a panache balanced finely between humour and melancholy.
Occasionally, the play presents something of a challenge in following its rapidly changing eras, but a little concentration on the dress styles and supporting music bears dividends. With a soundtrack shifting from Bing Crosby through to Eminem, the clues are clearly laid out for the appreciative time-traveller.
On the night I attended, appreciation was the audience response at the end, with full acclaim for a highly professional performance. If their reaction is anything to judge by, this new production will keep Hull Truck’s army of fans happy, and I'd certainly recommend it as a worthwhile play for any newcomer to observe Godber’s narrative style at close quarters.