Review: Mighty Atoms

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It is going to be virtually impossible to avoid the cliches, so why resist: this knockout show really does pack a punch.

The story of Hull’s famous boxing daughter Barbara Buttrick poetically woven with a state of the nation look at the UK’s City of Culture, this new play from Amanda Whittington, has a strength and power that is really quite incredible. Taylor Flint was once one of Hull’s brightest would-be stars. A Nicola Adams for the east of the county, she was meant to bring gold back to Hull. Instead, a moment of madness means she’s hiding out at a community hub/pub in a notorious estate in the city. Money troubles hand the pub a death sentence and a stay of execution – raise £2000 or the community loses another facility.

A rag tag of wannabe boxers come together, four souls troubled in their own ways, and under the tutelage of Taylor Flint look to literally fight to keep the Six Bells open. You can probably guess how this Full Monty with boxing gloves plays out, but the extraordinary skill of every last performer is what makes this a really special production. Masterfully directed by Mark Babych, who really does know how to make a cast and script like this work, the cast are stunning. Seven women playing powerful roles on stage – it doesn’t happen enough and this production shows why we all miss out when opportunities are not equal. There is a Polish woman struggling with her child’s identity, the local gob, and an odd couple in the mix, each actor is genuinely brilliant, but Caitlin Drabble as Taylor Flint is breathtaking. That she is an actor and not a fighter trained to act is something you will be checking is true. It is. She is amazing. As is this brilliant production.

Hull Truck Theatre, to July 1.

EXTRACT: A scene from Calyx.

Women lead way at Leeds’s own Phoenix Dance Theatre