The Culture: A Farce in Two Acts is an utterly ridiculous and wonderfully humorous look at the Hull 2017 offices in January 2018, when the team is preparing to debrief the Secretary of State for the Department of Media, Culture and Sport and deliver a handover to the Leader of Coventry Council.
Everything has been planned to a tee. Lizzie is in charge of Monitoring and Evaluation, so her presentation is full to the brim with acronyms that apparently represent success.
Meanwhile, a three-and-a-half tier cake in Spencer Tunick blue icing has been made to celebrate each year Martin Green has been on board, plus Maureen Lipman and Sir Tom Courtenay are on their way to do voice recordings for a bizarre new art installation.
However, a working man called Dennis from Summergangs Road arrives in the offices, demanding to take his complaint to the top. He’s told that Hull 2017 has a linear management structure, working left to right instead of top to bottom, plus Martin Green is busy at “not a party” for the rest of the day.
It doesn’t take very long at all for the farce element to kick in, with Dennis causing all kinds of trouble with a little unexpected help from Pioneer Volunteers Gerald and Janice. From smashing priceless art to impersonating dignitaries, it’s amazing how much devastation the trio fits into a single day.
The Culture has been very well cast. Andrew Dunn of TV’s Dinner Ladies makes a brilliant Hullensian with a chip on his shoulder, and Amelia Donkor’s portrayal of Lizzie is brilliantly sweet and diplomatic whilst teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
Martin Hyder and Nicola Reynolds are side-splitting as the troublesome volunteers, whilst Matt Sutton and Jordan Metcalfe bring a range of ridiculous team members, bureaucrats and artists to the mix.
Directed by Hull Truck Theatre’s Artistic Director, Mark Babych, this show is an honest and over-the-top look at how measuring culture can cause mayhem. After all, whilst it’s easy to count how many people attended an exhibition or bought tickets to a play, how exactly do you calculate the affect that culture has had on the wellbeing of a population?
The show is a real treat for those who got involved in Hull 2017, as it acts as a nostalgic look back at our year of discovery and celebration. References to Blade in Queen Victoria Square and Back To Ours taking culture to people’s doorsteps invite you to remember some truly special achievements, plus anyone who didn’t manage to see any events can experience them vicariously.
What’s more, each performance of The Culture has a special guest making a cameo appearance. The VIP for the press night was local MP Alan Johnson, but who knows who will join the cast on stage when you go to see the show?
You can catch The Culture: A Farce in Two Acts until Saturday 17 February. To book tickets, call the Hull Truck Theatre box office on 01482 323638, or you can book online.
Image credit: Andrew Billington