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Reviews, Theatre Bookmark and Share
Last Updated: 28/09/2013 13:25:04
City Sketch Heralds a New Dawn for Storytelling in Hull - At The Other Space, Hull
By Michelle Dee.

City Sketch is a site-specific theatre work that takes place inside The Other Space, a converted office block at No 94 Alfred Gelder Street in Hull city centre. Unusual theatre, immersive theatre, interactive theatre is making all the traditional theatre practitioners sit up and take notice. Just as audiences want to interact with news and entertainment online, so they want to be part of the story in theatre.

City Sketch created and conceived by Andrew Pearson, Richard Vergette and Dave Windass of theatre company Ensemble 52 is the first installment of a larger work, in partnership with Battersea Arts Centre and supported by Arts Council England. The new work uses the unassuming venue to tell three related stories set in an office environment. But this is not your usual nine to five.
Sitting in the boardroom of a high flying corporation, an almighty power struggle is taking place. C.E.O. Sarinda played by Sarah Naughton inverts the traditional gender roles and rides rough shod over the other board members, with her profit-before-people policies.

She has a right hand woman to do her dirty work for her, referred to here as the Company Assassin: a genuinely scary performance by Catherine Traveller. Even as the audience was milling about the space, she strode around in big boots and black gloves, every bit the evil henchwoman, enquiring with an increasingly severe tone, as to whether anyone wanted more wine.
My party obeyed without hesitation, and quickly returned to one of the wine and water stations to refill glasses.

At the end of the first piece, the audience was directed to the second floor either by the stairs or by taking the lift.

Now in the hidden world of the night time security guards, Andy played by Tim Bettridge and Stan played by Stan Heywood both had the audience in fits of laughter, with their perfectly timed comic back and forth. Moralising, debating the nature of observation, passing judgment on those who they guard from their elevated positions.

The interaction takes place set against a backdrop of projected CCTV screens showing live footage of the spaces we have moments before been in, unaware that all this time our every move was observed. I later learned that the pieces could take place simultaneously and be viewed in any order, so that when Stan refers to the poor souls in the boardroom, the cameras would be showing the boardroom scene taking place live on the screen.
The third and final piece of the first part of City Sketch takes place actually inside an office, with the seated audience watching and listening from outside through a large plate glass window that runs the length of one wall. This was a strange experience and took a while to get used to. Viewing the action through the glass window made it almost television like; live people moving around inside a little box.

This piece was perhaps the most moving. The drama begins with the ridiculous and nonsensical nature of office policies set against the familiar territory of hierarchy and subordinates. Then it shifts pace into something far more intense.
The duologue, brilliantly acted by Rachel Dale as Amy and Ben Tinniswood as Matt, provided a more intimate view of goings on behind closed office doors. On show for the voyeuristic audience, the mind games, the heavily loaded word play, the spoken and unspoken passions and the inevitable conflict as the two company leaders vie for position both in their professional and personal life.

As if three dramas unfolding in one night wasn't enough, there was both an exhibition by Anna Bean and live art happening throughout by illustrator Gareth Sleightholme. By the time the theatre had concluded, he had sketched out a street scene complete with buildings and people of the very place we'd been in for the past two hours.

As an introduction to a new place for theatre in the city, City Sketch performed admirably. Moving around the building, the imagination fired with ideas of how different stories could be told to new and ever more demanding audiences. As story telling continues inventing and reinventing itself in Hull, you can be sure that the unassuming office space at No 94 will be at the forefront of the theatre revival.

City Sketch runs from 23rd – 28th September
Tickets see:
www.ensemble52.eventbrite.co.uk
Reviews, Art Breakthrough for Community Art in Hull By Michelle Dee.
It does feel like something of a breakthrough; Community artists gaining recognition through having work displayed in the same way countless established artists have before them. I am of course talking about Hull Art Top 20 Exhibition, showing at Art Link on Princes Avenue until 24th August 2013. Read more...

Reviews, Art Rhythm is a Danza! By Dark Clerk Photos by Philip Rhodes.
I'm shouting in a gallery, I'm shouting in a gallery, just one of the many taboos that dancer/performer Ellen Turner broke at Danza! in Hull. Ellen delivered an outrageous finale, to a rip-roaring third annual Danza! the Contemporary Dance event this year gravitating from Fruit to the Live Art Space at Ferens Gallery. Whereas live music in the city and theatre is enjoying a popular resurgence, dance is still under-represented in the city. Read more...

Reviews, Books - Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory by Mike Watts Reviewed by Helen Mort
Mike Watts' second collection is darker than his debut, dealing with relationships, sex, debts and the difficulty of chasing your dreams while still making ends meet. But despite the gravity and grit of the subject matter, the poems always have a kind of exuberance to them, and energy that's almost infectious. Read more...

Reviews, Theatre Michael Black's New Play Pride Debuts at Adelphi - Tuesday 18th June 2013 By Michelle Dee
'No-one will love you - you will be alone forever' The new play Pride by Michael Black conjures up images of the barbaric treatment of homosexuality in the latter half of the 20th Century; a play that explores issues of societal division, segregation and rejection which are as relevant today as they were then. It is appalling to think that from 1950 and then for the next three decades, Behavioural Aversion Therapy was being administered to homosexuals in NHS hospitals across the country. Read more...

Reviews, Books - Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory by Mike Watts Reviewed by Terry Ireland
Just spent an hour dipping in and out Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory by Mike Watts. Always did like his style - no words wasted, tight and sparse. Controversial at times but always readable. Really enjoyed. Another good 'un Mike. Looking forward to hearing some of them performed. Mike is a superb performance poet that I have had the privilege of working with and attending his work shops. I can hear his voice in every poem. Read more...

Reviews, Books - Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory by Mike Watts Reviewed by Michelle Dee
Day and Night in the Damaged Goods Factory crashes through life in quick-fire stanzas that whack the unsuspecting reader over the head. This, his second anthology available now at Waterstones Hull, sees the popular writer flexing muscles, girding loins, easing into the self-made role of Hull street poet. The poems are accessible, something you can pick up during a cigarette break and immediately share in a sense of solidarity. You and he versus the rest of 'em. Read more...

Reviews, Theatre Adelphi Club Stages Theatre Double Bill By Michelle Dee
Crisis can strike at any time as the television is so fond of telling us. It can take many different forms but the important thing is how you respond. Do you have the tools in the locker to manage the crisis to recover; to survive? Joanna Morris' A Delicate Man explores the unknowable quantity that is human nature. What is an all too familiar set of circumstances: a family torn apart Read more...

Reviews, Art Book Launch - Swear Down by Russ Litten at Pave - Wednesday April 10th 2013 By Michelle Dee.
If it is possible for poetry to rock a room, then on Wednesday Joe and Mike did just that. It was author Russ Litten's book launch and a crowd of authors, poets, theatre-makers, movers and shakers from the Arts scene in Hull including local press and radio, all gathered to celebrate the release of Swear Down, Litten's second novel, but his first foray into crime-writing. The night was held at the popular drinking emporium, Read more...

Reviews, Theatre Phantom of the Opera at St. Mary's College, Tuesday 12th March 2013 By Michelle Dee
It has been years since I saw a school production. I remember my own performances as an overfed urchin, an unfunny jester and as a witch-doctor, with a mixture of nostalgic pride laced with pangs of sheer terror. A friend's two daughters were in tonight's show, so I took my seat in the school hall dutifully: poised to cheer and applaud in all the right places. Read more...

Reviews, Art Sunday March 4th 2013 - Northern Elements at Fruit By Terry Ireland.
It was an evening of poetry
Of four different styles
An evening of belly laughs
And wry gentle smiles
As each of the ladies
In their own special way
Read more...

Reviews, Art Sunday March 4th 2013 - Kate Fox Standing Up for Hull Poets By Michelle Dee.
Stand-up poetry or spoken word, call it what you will, is on the rise in Hull. Joe Hakim, curator for Northern Elements, said as much at the Kate Fox show held on Sunday night at Fruit. You can't fail to have noticed the many venues and night dedicated to this vibrant versatile and increasingly popular art form. Poetry is everywhere. Whether it is mixed in on a variety billing of live music and theatre, Read more...

Reviews, Theatre Thursday 5th July 2012 - Fred Voss and Joan Jobe-Smith - The Longbeach Connection at Hull Truck - Humber Mouth Literature Festival By Michelle Dee Photographs by Cilla Wykes
Tonight's poetry performance was the culmination of three years effort, to bring the highly respected Californian writer Fred Voss to Hull. All week I'd been hearing reverential murmurings about the two visiting poets, particularly from the writers in my midst. Wearing dark shades, dressed in black from head to toe, the flame haired Joan Jobe-Smith, Read more...

Reviews, Theatre Theatre Brothel 2.0 at Hull Truck Theatre - Saturday 29th September 2012 By Michelle Dee Photographs by Cilla Wykes
In recent years, film and theatre reviews have become littered with the following: Spoiler Alert! So what can I tell you about Theatre Brothel 2.0 without giving the game away? The Theatre Brothel experience begins as you walk the back corridors and passageways of the theatre. Which two of the four shows you got to see in any given night, depended on what answers you gave to some probing questions. Read more...

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