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Gold

By • West End
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Gold at the Hull Truck Theatre

Simon Stallworthy, the writer and director of Gold, is the official 'other bloke' at Hull Truck Theatre - for the most part caught in the shadow cast by the more renowned John Godber.

'It's inevitable really,' Stallworthy told me, 'with John being the second most performed living playwright in the country you're always going to be number two. I'm certainly proud to be a part of the stable.....It's great that there's the opportunity to develop things under his wing, so to speak.'

This season Stallworthy has entered what he calls a 'creative curve', a period which has seen him direct Macbeth, Bouncers and David Bown's Stand. This writing venture is the first piece Stallworthy has written specifically for Hull Truck and for subject matter he has turned to his own memories of the 1980's.

Gold is the story of the five people who, in their University days, were the Fresher's Ball playing band Rio. Some twelve years later, they find themselves reforming to play at the pre-nuptial celebrations of band members Tom (Cymon Allen) and Sharon (Joanna Swain). The friends catch up on old times during rehearsals for the big gig and realise that their lives have not travelled in any planned trajectory. We also discover that Sharon was, during student times, pregnant with fellow band member Gareth's (Andrew Hoggarth) baby. Which is as far as the plot moves in what is essentially a good time Eighties cover band gig.

'It's not a big space,' Stallworthy accurately points out of Hull Truck's auditorium, 'so it's like being at a brilliant gig. It's all your favourite Eighties songs brought to life in front of you, which is great. I defy anybody not to tap their toes.'

He's right of course. Love them or loathe them, the mid-Eighties pop classics by the likes of Duran Duran, Human League and Spandau Ballet are infectiously catchy.

The 'band' (the aforementioned plus fellow actress Claire Carpenter) who were knocked into shape by musical director Hallam Lewis, are actually quite a tight little combo once they get going. By the closing number, a blistering Relax, even the most po-faced, high-art loving theatre-goer would find it hard not to clap along.

So Gold is hardly a challenging piece of theatre - the play that lurks within is a very undercooked affair - but that was never the intention. 'It's not a serious play,' Stallworthy concludes, 'it's quite a cheeky slice of life really.'

Dave Windass

At Hull Truck Theatre until 16 January.


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