The production of Jack Lear, directed by Barrie Rutter, OBE and written by Ben Benison, takes a different perspective of Shakespeare’s King Lear, setting it on the docks of the River Humber.
I was invited to the Press Night for Jack Lear at Hull Truck Theatre on Tuesday 22nd January. With Axel coming along as my plus one, we were looking forward to an evening of entertainment. Entering the theatre foyer, a local band created a warm and welcoming atmosphere to the evening. Jack Lear is the first production to start the Spring/Summer season of 2019. And what a perfect start to the season!
Performing Shakespeare is one thing, but adapting Shakespearian language into the local Hull accent is an interesting challenge. The cast however were able to achieve this and did not stray far from the original plot of King Lear.
For full disclosure, the ticket was gifted by Hull Truck in return for a theatre review.
Wealthy trawler-man, Jack Lear, is preparing to retire and hand over his hard-earned fleet to his feisty trio of daughters. Morgana, Freda and Victoria, who gut fish and work on deck while wearing oilskin frocks and thigh high boots, have never seen eye to eye with each other, or their tight-fisted father.(Hull Truck, 2019)
As the sisters scheme and scrap over their inheritance, enter Edmund, the womanising Solicitor. Family relationships become more and more strained as they each strive for freedom, fortune and love in this rivalry that is stormier than the dark North Sea!
Set and Lighting
Welcoming the audience, a simplistic but rustic set, full of netting for fishing and wood decking for the floor designed by Katie Unwin. What I did not anticipate was the use of visual effects (designed by Mathew Clowes) which enhanced the production; such as Jack (performed by Barrie Rutter, OBE) being at sea.
Due to the simplicity of the set and dressing props, the audience’s imagination were key to the multiple locations throughout the production.
Throughout the production, the cast sang traditional fishing heritage songs in acapella and were also accompanied with instruments. The composition of the music; created by Eliza Carthy, MBE, brought the core focus of the fishing heritage to heart.
As mentioned earlier, merging Shakespearian language with the local strong Hull accent is an interesting challenge. The cast of five were able to use this challenge to build their characters and deliver a strong performance.
Barrie Rutter’s interpretation of Lear kept the madness and extrovert aspect of the character throughout the production. Meanwhile, the three sisters, performed Sarah Naughton, Nicola Sanderson and Olivia Onyehara, all brought unique but collaborative traits. These strong traits complimented the relationship dynamics not only among themselves, but with Jack and the devious Edmund (performed by Andy Cryer).
Such productions are not always down to the dialogue and emotions of the characters, but also with movement. The choreographed fights between Freda (Sarah Naughton) and Morgana (Nicola Sanderson) were exciting and demonstrated the conflict between the pair. To the pair, they wanted to impress their father, but to the audience it brought entertainment.
The concept of the production has been successfully delivered with a strong cast, a simplistic but effect set and stunning music. Admittedly, there were times I was unsure where I was with the dialogue, but I would not necessarily say this was a flaw. Instead, this demonstrates how Shakespearian language can be adapted to be relatable to communities – something that I personally had not considered.
I thoroughly enjoyed the production and would encourage you to see the production for yourself – whether you are a fan of Shakespeare or the local history of Hull’s Fishing Heritage.
Jack Lear is running until 2nd February 2019. You can find out more information and book tickets here.
Until next time,