Housebound, Hull Truck A
Written by Nick Lane
Directed by Keith Hukin
A Reform Theatre Company Production.
HULL TRUCK STUDIO THEATRE.
The harrowing opening scene is of a young man seemingly trapped under ground crying for help, cutting quickly to a typical pensioners surburban front room, which could be in an ordinary street somewhere near you.
You can feel the tension immediately as Lucy (Annie Sawle) and Jim (Roger Bingham) approach their 41st wedding anniversay, only Lucy suffers from agoraphobia and hasnt been out of the house for several years. This is much to Jim's annoyance and against some very strong persuading, Lucy just cannot do it, she is trapped. But who is it who is really trapped? Jim? Lucy? or the person in the opening scene?
The elderly couple, like many I know personally, squabble and argue over the trivialitys and humdrum of retired life, which comes across as a bit one dimensional in the acting at times but perhaps that's a perfect insight into the boredom that comes with old age?
Jim is bristling with frustration and anger and he makes the Victor Meldrew character look like one of the Laughing Cavaliers, leaving the audience at times as breathless as Lucy is agitated with his constant stream of complaints about everything under the sun.
Jim's overiding grievance is the demise of his crime ridden neigbourhood and the apparent lack of law and order and with Halloween night fast approaching we see a very touching scene which reveals it is also the anniversary of the death of the couple's daughter, Annie.
Late at night Jim, on hearing a noise downstairs, disturbs a burglar in his front room and assaults him about the head with a golf club, then locks the burglar (William Croft) in the cellar, of course Lucy is also woken up and quickly unravels exactly what her husband has done. The burglar turns out to be a 17 year old youth called Ash.
Who is the real villian? The burglar or the attacker?
Tied up in the cellar the young lad cries to be released, Jim wants to teach him a lesson and Lucy wants to mother him, with the plot revealling Jim to be the aggressor and a bigoted bully.
Eventually Jims temper boils over and the consequences add a surprising twist to the end of the play.
Are the generations so far apart after all? As Lucy talks candily for the first time in years to Ash they form and unlikely bond, as Jim goes out to score drugs to feed the burglars habit. Are pensioners as misunderstood as young people are? Are our fears really the same? These questions do leave the audience wondering just who has been wronged.
A very thought provoking play, billed as a comedy, but far too close to home for many people to be comfortable with. For it could just be a street near you.