Abigail's Party: Taking place in suburban Britain in 1977, Beverly and Laurence have invited their neighbours Angela and Tony, and Sue, round to their house for a party. Except it’s not really a party, it’s drinks, nibbles and snobby comments as Beverly tries to be a model of middle class behaviour and taste. Whilst the cheese and pineapple sticks are circulated and awkward pauses are filled with sneaky cigarettes, the real party is happening back at Sue’s house, where her teenage daughter Abigail and her mates are having the time of their lives. Mike Leigh's comedy masterpiece has been a hit on stage and television, looking at what can happen when we forget to be true to ourselves and create ‘us’ and ‘them’.
Hull Truck Theatre’s Christmas production is a new adaptation of Oliver Twist (30 Nov – 5 Jan), which brings the much-loved Dickens favourite to life for children aged 7+ and their families to enjoy at this special time of year. Born in a workhouse, sold into an apprenticeship and recruited by Fagin’s band of pickpockets and thieves, Oliver sinks into London’s grimy underworld on his search for a home, a family and love. Following the huge popularity of last year’s A Christmas Carol, writer Deborah McAndrew returns with a show packed with dance and song, including traditional carols, folk tunes and original music.
A co-production between Hull Truck Theatre and The Herd, The Ugly Duckling Christmas Special (17 Dec – 5 Jan) is a reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale. The Herd are Hull Truck Theatre Supported Artists that specialise in making original shows about the world young people live in today, with this tinsel-filled treat being perfect for under 7s and their families.
Productions from Hull Truck Theatre’s performance groups
Our Regional Young Actors Ensemble is a cohort of 30 actors from across the region, supported by Hull Truck Theatre, Live Theatre, Newcastle and Derby Theatre, originally formed as part of Hull UK City of Culture. The Regional Young Actors Ensemble Showcase (29 Sep) will give our young company the opportunity to perform for industry professionals and local artists, empowering them to develop relationships and encourage exciting dialogues.
Vibrant programme from local theatre companies and artists
The hugely popular Hessle Theatre Company presents Soho Cinders (4-8 Sep), an edgy, fun and deliciously naughty celebration of London’s most colourful district.
Silent Uproar returns with A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) (14-15 Sep), which won a Fringe First Award and sold out at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017.
Back by popular demand, Ensemble 52 presents Dark Winter (6-10 Nov), a stunning adaptation of David Mark’s crime novel set in Hull, this time in our main auditorium, The Heron.
Drip (8-9 Nov) is a one-man musical comedy from Script Club and Boundless Theatre, written by Hull gem Tom Wells with music by Matthew Robins. The story follows 15-year-old Liam, who has just signed up for Bev Road Baths’ first ever synchronised swimming team. There’s just one problem: Liam can’t swim. This side-splitting show returns to Hull Truck Theatre fresh from a sell-out tour.
A wealth of drama visiting from across the UK
The premiere of award-winning writer Gordon Steel’s powerful, poignant and hilarious play, The Fulstow Boys (17-19 Sep) remembers when Sky News and the rest of the world's press descended on a small village in Lincolnshire and all hell broke loose. This gripping show is presented by Steelworks Theatre Company.
Still No Idea (4-6 Oct) brings together Lisa Hammond and Rachael Spence with Improbable and The Royal Court Theatre. Following on from No Idea, in which audiences were asked to suggest ideas for a show, prepare for the mischievous adventures of two friends in search of a story.
They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay! (23-27 Oct) is a hilarious co-production between Northern Broadsides and York Theatre Royal. Anthea is a woman on the edge, out of work and in arrears. When she gets mixed up in a riot at the local supermarket, she seizes the opportunity to stock her empty cupboards and those of her friend, Maggie. But how will they hide the loot from their law-abiding husbands? What will they tell the police? When the going gets tough, Anthea’s anarchic imagination takes over, with a fantastical, farcical answer for everything.
Stand & Be Counted is the UK’s first Theatre Company of Sanctuary. When every citizen is ordered to return to their place of birth, Where We Began (25 Oct) examines where we could end up. This is a wild and vivid vision of the future, combining storytelling, movement and live music.
Thick as Thieves (20-21 Nov) is a co-commission by Clean Break and Theatr Clwyd, presenting a tense, revealing tale that explores what it means to care for one another and asks who, in a time of increasing disconnect, we expect to look after us.
Shows for children and families
There’s plenty on offer for children and families this season. The popular Great Adventures in Storyland (one Saturday a month) returns for children aged 3 to 6 and their families. Stories are missing beginnings and ends, and the Story Menders need help to save them.
And if you’re looking for something a bit different for Halloween, How to Hide a Lion (30-31 Oct) by Pigtails Productions, Polka Theatre and Oxford Playhouse is full of playful humour, dazzling puppets and jazz.
World-class music, comedy and events
If you love live music, we have just the thing for you this season.
Celebrating the artist who brought us Uptown Girl and Just The Way You Are, The Billy Joel Songbook (11 Sep) is a powerhouse of a show performed by Elio Pace and his band.
Andy Fairweather Low & The Low Riders (13 Sep) presents the former lead singer of Amen Corner taking the UK by storm in this riotously good live performance.
You may have seen it here before, yet Showstopper! The Improvised Musical (1 Nov) is different every time, with the cast transforming audience suggestions into an all-singing, all-dancing production.
Always an energetic event, Hull Jazz Festival (14-17 Nov) is now in its 26th winter edition and includes performances from Trio HLK & Dame Evelyn Glennie, Mercury-nominated Dinosaur, and Argentinian gypsy jazz maestro Gonzalo Bergara Quartet.
Hull Truck Theatre also welcomes some of the best live comedians, beginning with popular favourite Jeremy Hardy (15 Sep), closely followed by self-dubbed “Lie-In King” Seann Walsh (18 Sep). Then there’s Richard Stott’s Wretched (11 Oct), which is a whole show about having a small hand; Steve Bugeja (26 Oct), who’s hitting the road for his third and largest tour; Marcus Brigstocke (2 Nov) talking about everything from the Snowflake Generation to Brextremists; Pam Ayres (18 Nov) combining her charming and understated manner with rare comic precision; and The Ginger Snapped (20 Nov), in which Ru Paul’s Drag Race star Jinkx Monsoon and lyrical genius Major Scales deliver therapy you can dance to.
Speaking of dance, The Hull Dance Choreographic Prize (14 Nov) returns for its fifth year, bringing together the greatest talent in the region for an evening of cutting-edge movement.
And if you’re a sports fan, Henry Blofeld – 78 Retired (29 Oct) sees the cherished golden voice of cricket take to the stage after fifty years of commentating. Blofeld fans will be delighted to discover his unheard anecdotes from on and off the pitch, as well as stories from the TMS box that weren’t allowed on the radio.
Mark Babych, Artistic Director and Chief Executive at Hull Truck Theatre, says:
‘This season we are delighted to showcase the talents of our Artistic Associate Amanda Huxtable, who is part of the Arts Council England’s Change Makers programme to support the development of black, minority ethnic and disabled cultural leaders. Her keynote production of Mike Leigh’s classic Abigail’s Party forms the centrepiece of our producing work this season and continues our commitment to telling stories in a way that reflects the diversity of a modern Britain.’
Amanda Huxtable, Hull Truck Theatre Artistic Associate and Director of Abigail’s Party, says:
‘I’m beyond excited to share this well-loved play and our take on it today with our audiences. As we move into a new era for Britain, questioning who we have become and who we would like to be, I think it’s well worth taking the time to venture back and explore our journey to where we find ourselves today.’
Ruby Thompson, Co-Artistic Director of The Herd and Director of The Ugly Duckling, says:
‘We are delighted to re-work this classic tale for Hull’s younger audiences and their families. Our version of The Ugly Duckling will celebrate the importance of childhood and living in the present. And what better time of the year is there to be a kid than at Christmas… with a present! This is going to be a Christmas party for all generations and I can’t wait to host it!’
Abigail’s Party: Tuesday 2 October, 7:30pm
Oliver Twist: Tuesday 4 December, 7pm