Review: Mapping the City *****

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At Hull Truck Theatre

I’m not entirely sure it’s theatre, but I’m certain that it is something quite magical.

There couldn’t be a less appealing prospect than Slung Low’s new show. An 8pm start for a three-hour trek around Hull. Not the best way I imagine spending my time.

Or rather, not the best way I could have imagined spending time before I saw this moving, epic, spectacular piece of work that really did make magic happen.

It begins when the audience of 35 don their headphones at Hull Truck Theatre. A man with an orange umbrella appears to lead us to the train station and the stories begin.

The first of three seemingly unconnected stories is Jenny Worton’s William After Sarah, in which Sarah, played by Catherine Shepherd, shows us five memories of her past relationship with William, the actors talking to us through radio mics. It is outside the train station, the moment you put the headphones on, that the very special nature of this show reveals itself

As we follow Sarah through the streets of Hull, we spot people holding lanterns, an old-fashioned bus with a sign in the windows, that are part of the show. We also see ordinary people, going about their day and suddenly they become part of the narrative we are watching. It is as though the city itself transforms into a giant set. Hull has never been so beautiful.

The three, hour-long plays, Worton’s, Matthew David Scott’s Where It all Goes and James Philips’ Time and The City are all deeply poetic and moving, each in an entirely unique way. They are connected by theme and feel. The performances are among the most committed you will see and beautifully judged by every actor. The three hours whistle by, each story something you want to never end.

It is impossible to sum up this theatre experience in such a short space, save to say it is a tragedy that such a small audience will experience this very special piece of work.

To May 8.