One Man and His Cat05/12/2012
The tale of Dick Whittington is a popular classic, but if it’s been a while since you last heard it the details might be sketchy. For example, it's possible you've forgotten that Dick comes from an allotment on modern day Bransholme.
This is the setting for a new adaptation of the timeless folk tale by Dave Windass, who recently brought us the excellent Ballroom Blitz. The vibrant and passionate Middle Child Theatre have been given the mission of bringing it to life on stage this Christmas, creating a collaboration that’s bound to please.
“It’s traditional panto,” said Mungo Arney, an actor with Middle Child, “but an alternative version with a contemporary feel. Dick lives on Noddle Hill Way and leaves to seek his fortune in London Town. He’s pursued by King Rat, a villain bent on killing Dick’s faithful feline companion, Kitty, the all-action heroine who also happens to be the last cat in the land.”
Fruit on Humber Street is the setting for this fantastic performance that’s perfect for the whole family. The venue will serve food from Thieving Harry’s (the type that’s really tasty and actually fills you up), plus the bar will operate a table service for the first time, with the option of tweeting your order from your seat.
“A festive play is a huge part of a traditional Christmas,” said Marc Graham, also of Middle Child, who will be playing a rather stubbly Sarah the Cook. “We want it to be accessible to the entire community. People can wear whatever they like and tickets are very affordable, with a family of two adults and two children being able to enjoy the show for just £15.”
Anyone who has already seen a Dave Windass play will appreciate his knack for writing strong characters, and this show is no exception. Joining Dick, Kitty, King Rat and Sarah the Cook will be Alderman Fitzwarren and his daughter Alice (Dick’s love interest), King Rat's chief minion and a straight-talking, no-nonsense Fairy Bow Bells. These engaging oddities will help make the return journey to London an extremely eventful and memorable one, all the while dropping in the odd tongue-in-cheek reference for big kids, such as John Prescott and the recent PCC elections. Even the soundtrack has been specially chosen, with everything from Bright Eyes to Tinie Tempah matching the mood of each scene, and pupils from Winifred Holtby School will accompany the actors on stage to form the chorus.
“We’ve been working with Winifred Holtby a lot lately,” said Mungo. “Our company visits schools across the city because we want children and young people to appreciate how essential theatre is.”
Having recently celebrated its first birthday, the company was established when a bunch of university graduates left Hull for further studies in acting and direction, only to return a year or so later because they felt a connection with the city. The eight actors and Artistic Director Paul Smith are now making quite a name for themselves, with the Hull Daily Mail describing them as the “voice of a generation”.
Marc elaborated on this impressive accolade: “We like to think our company is getting attention because we make relevant and relatable theatre. In Dick Whittington, for example, Alice is dressed like a diva from Made in Chelsea, whilst my role as the dame is a combination of Pat Butcher and Dot Cotton, which isn’t a pretty sight but will hopefully get a laugh or two.”
Set and Costume Designer Hannah Sibai is responsible for transforming the players and their surroundings into something quite magical, perfectly complementing the song, slapstick and satire that make this one Christmas adventure not to be missed.
“It’s a feast for the eyes,” said the chaps excitedly. "We want people to make a night of it!”
Well, you heard them, best book your tickets now! The event is already listed on the Fruit website, and don’t go saying it isn’t, because Oh, yes it is!
More information about Middle Child Theatre
Receiving funding from Hull City Council and Arts Council England, Middle Child Theatre is an Associate Company of Hull Truck Theatre and receives valuable support from the Goodwin Development Trust, with its 24/7 rehearsal space and office operating from the upper floor of Darley’s (corner of Porter Street and William Street, Great Thornton Estate).
As well as acting and directing, each member has an additional responsibility, such as marketing, finance, education, and there's even a designated Wasp Officer to carefully shoo away unwanted airborne visitors ("We like jam sandwiches," was the explanation provided).
For more information, please follow @MiddleChildHull on Twitter.
Article by Rich Sutherland