Tracks by Open Umbrella Theatre at The Brolly, Scrapstore Studios - 7th to 30th November 2013
Reviewed By Michelle Dee.
Photos by James Brigden, Poster by Sookie Lalla Greene
Sitting in The Brolly, I'm reminded of the tentative steps made by the acclaimed Hull Truck Theatre Company when it
began all those years ago.
With singular ambition, the traveling company used local support to put on shows for the community of Hull.
At the core of Open Umbrella Theatre is the unshakable community-minded belief that theatre must be for everyone.
Hence the increasing program of outreach initiatives which have seen the fledgling company of Rachel Harris and Tom Steer
running workshops, performing dramas in community centres and other non-traditional settings, on the estates of Hull.
Now based at The Brolly inside Scrapstore Studios on Dairycoates Avenue, Tracks (runs until 30 November) written by
James Brigden, is their second full length theatre-work since returning to the city from East 15 Acting School.
Tracks is an uncompromising look at the possible effects of trauma in early life and how the inability to process the experience could have tragic outcomes.
This is not a comedy, however there are lighter moments provided by the voice-over/narrator in the guise of the train announcer.
In her first one-woman show, Rachel Harris shines as Sarah, the lost frightened child, growing older and failing to come to terms
with her increasingly erratic lifestyle. Her portrayal of the young Sarah playing in the family garden is captivating and swathed in a childlike innocence.
The writer's ability to deal with the nature of memory is clearly evidenced in the monologue.
The later scenes, where Sarah has given up on her life are difficult to watch.
On one occasion, the brutality and violence of the transformation from carefree to careworn reduced an audience member to tears.
The set design was sparse with much left to the imagination. The company had tasked local artist and sculptor Sue Caulfield with creating a backdrop. The canvas portrayed train tracks that vanished on the horizon, helping to convey the train stops as life events metaphors - instances where certain decisions were made, paths were taken, conveying the narrative and Sarah's destiny.
Tracks is a powerful story and has an eternal lesson running through. After some considerable thought, I think it is
not the inability to grieve that causes Sarah to go off the rails, but her inability to accept that the grief all around her will manifest itself in multiple forms.
It is that uncertainty, that strangeness, the extreme shifts in personality that lead to her alienation, knock her off path and ultimately cause her to lose her way.
See Tracks at The Brolly (Scrapstore Studios), Dairycoates Avenue
Thursday 28th, Friday 29th and Saturday 30th November Start Time: 7.30pm
Reviews, Art Ghost Ship by Dorothy Cross By Michelle Dee.
I walk softly across the darkened exhibition gallery, towards a corner, illuminated only by the light coming from the projected image on screen. I sit myself down in one of the low seats provided. The other seat, beside the one I'm in, is occupied.
A quick glance out the corner of my eye reveals a man, possibly in a dark jacket and jeans, possibly with short hair. It's difficult to work out in this half light.
Reviews, Theatre Monday 14th October 2013 - Last Orders by Martin Breathnach at Fruit
By Michelle Dee
Last Orders is a play with community spirit at its heart. Set in a northern town within the confines of that rare thing, the local pub,
untouched by the ticking of the developer's clock.
It's the kind of place you've quickened your pace as you walk past, yet inside, whole lives are playing out in rudely vivid colours, scripted by heavy local venacular.
The new play written and directed by Irish playwright Martin Breathnach,
Reviews, Art Saturday 28th September 2013 at Heads Up Festival at Trinity Church - Cruel Theatre Leaves Critic Traumatised By Michelle Dee.
How had this happened? All eyes on me. Me, casting my eyes about wildly, looking for the great big hole to swallow me up. Immediately I'm transported back,
more years than I care to mention, to the school play.
There I am in my jester's costume, tumbling around the good-looking lead playing the King, and my nerves get the better of me and with each
jolly bell rattle, there's another, slightly
Reviews, Arts Hull Dance Prize 2013 - Big Hit with Audience at Hull Truck Studio Theatre - Thursday 3rd October 2013 By Michelle Dee
Hull Dance Prize 2013, organised by Hull Dance, saw six Contemporary Dance performers/companies battling it out in the
Studio Theatre at Hull Truck, to a capacity crowd.
Hosted by the jovial 'he gets everywhere' David Burns from the popular BBC Radio Humberside programme, The Burnsy Show.
The winners would be decided by an expert panel of judges and receive a cheque for £1,500.
Reviews, Art Trinity Church Showcases Hull Poetry at Heads Up Festival - Saturday 28th September 2013 By Michelle Dee.
They've performed everywhere from the Boathouse to the Hotel Tower Ballroom (maybe not, that was Jake and Elwood), five have taken part in the Edinburgh Fringe, and between them they have amassed seven published works, in a relatively short space of time.
Reviews, Art So You Wanna be a Crime Writer? at Heads Up Festival - Saturday 28th September 2013 at The Other Space By Michelle Dee.
Michelle Dee enters the grisly world of crime fiction, a place where a black inkwell resides at the heart of every writer, and attempts to piece together, from the thoughts expressed by a select gathering of authors, a rough guide to crime writing
Reviews, Theatre 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
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.
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...