This morning my colleague Jacqui and I hopped in another Hull taxi and, as I have each journey, I asked about Hull City of Culture. This time the conversation in the mirror from a gruff Hull accented granddad went in an unexpected route. To paraphrase…”Its OK, doesn’t do anything for our business, people walk, or get booked cabs from their hotel.” (predictable). “I don’t really do the arts.” (predictable).
Swallow is a stunning three hander, gender blind cast piece of theatre which tackles all of the subjects in paragraph one. It comes from the sure creative heart of Durham student theatre, in this case Piccolo Theatre directed by George Rexstrew, with knockout performances from Steph Sarratt, Annie Davison and Matt Dormer.
Hope and Despair flowed this week, and we have reminders of other global game-changers with the anniversary of Kristallnacht (despair), the Fall of the Berlin Wall (hope), Armistice Day (hope after despair), and even a reflection on our trans-atlantic differences with a new president appointed on 9/11.
Tender, fierce, intelligent and humane, this superb production reminds us that D.H.Lawrence was at his best a great interpreter of 20th century change. Years before the showy hysteria of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, (heaven knows why the BBC chose the worst of his works to dramatize) he wrote plays about his Nottinghamshire pit village, vivid with understanding humanity, humble observation and pity. Here are themes of marriage and pride, trapped lives and rich communities, possessive fearful mothers and feckless endangered sons. Here is class and money and the yearning for art and the painful the rift between generations when education takes the young out of manual work. Here too, noted with generosity, is the increasing independence of women.