On Thursday 16th March, 70 alumni and guests took advantage of a discounted ticket offer for alumni to attend a performance of Richard Bean’s riotous new comedy, The Hypocrite. Attendees enjoyed a wine reception and the opportunity to network with university staff prior to the performance
The Hypocrite was written by honorary graduate Richard Bean for Hull Truck Theatre, Hull City of Culture 2017 and the Royal Shakespeare Company. It premiered in Hull on 24 February and is currently running at the RSC in Stratford until 29 April 2017.
Across a three hour performance, our guests witnessed an outrageous, but ultimately winning, revision of Hull’s famous ‘heroic’ fighting narrative into a hilarious tragicomic farce centered on the ambiguous role and motivations of then Governor of Hull, Sir John Hotham.
Sir John Hotham’s tomb in St Mary’s Church, South Dalton is surrounded by figures representing the four cardinal virtues, namely prudence, justice, temperance and courage. All these notions are brushed aside in Dr Bean’s new play as Hotham dithers between honour and advantage; self-enrichment and self-sacrifice in an ultimately futile quest to keep his head attached to his shoulders.
In his predicament, Hotham is surrounded by an entourage of larger than life characters including a troupe of punkish baladeers, long suffering servant Drudge, withered by his lowly position but suddenly re-purposed by a ghostly visitation, Lady Sarah, his straight-talking and disdainful wife, Connie the cook, sensible and solid, a shakespeare loving daughter with romantic allusions and a son who buries self expression beneath thick layers of logic, reason and rationality.
Dr Bean and Director Phillip Breen have clearly thrown everything into the production – Moliere, musical hall, farce, vaudeville, Punch and Judy, pantomime, knockabout, cabaret and old-school slapstick all combine to form a heady comic-brew. The effect is a solid wall of riotous humor and frenetic action that allows for very little reflection or introspection. Ultimately, this doesn’t matter; the audience is swept along in a mad-dance of humour, entertainment and physicality that is not only exhilarating and funny but also, delightfully, Hull.