John Godber is back at Hull Truck with new play Losing The Plot, starring Corrie's Steve Huison
John Godber returns to Hull Truck this month with a new play about a man on the edge. Ian Midgley asks leading man and Full Monty star Steve Huison if he's Losing The Plot?
We've all dreamed about doing it occasionally.
Going in, telling the boss to stick it, jumping in the car, fleeing the rat race and starting afresh, throwing off the shackles and freeing ourselves from the burdens and responsibilities of the 21st century.
We'd haughtily write that novel we've been lying about for the past decade, while sipping cheap wine and wearing sandals.
Come and discover the wildlife at Blacktoft Sands nature reserve for just £6. Offer includes entry for 2 adults and up to 3 children, binocular hire and activities for children. Normal value £12.
Terms: Redeem voucher at visitor reception during opening hours, 9am to 5pm. Only, one pair of binoculars per voucher, customers will need to leave car keys as a deposit for binoculars.
Contact: 01405 800024
Valid until: Saturday, June 15 2013
In his latest play, iconic Hull playwright John Godber's embattled hero Jack Butler does just that.
"On February 1", the promotional blurb on the poster begins: "Jack walked out on his job, his wife and his teenage children. "Beside his bed," it continues, "was a copy of Hot Sex Tips and Which Caravan magazine."
The play, which we're promised is a traditional Godber mix of witty one-liners and soul-searching pathos, follows what happens when Jack returns home after three months, having failed to live the dream.
Some may see Losing The Plot, which opens at Hull Truck for a five-day run on Tuesday, February 19, as Godber's ode to a midlife crisis; a darkly comic take on the austere days we find ourselves in.
But, to be fair, it isn't entirely virgin ground for Godber.
Past plays such as April In Paris, The Debt Collectors, Funny Turns, and not forgetting Lucky Eric's slow-burning meltdown in Bouncers, have all featured those trapped and disillusioned with life, seeking something more.
It's something leading man Steve Huison, who's playing art teacher Jack, can identify with. As Lomper in The Full Monty, he was saved from a post-redundancy-suicide bid to become a male stripper.
As Eddie Windass in Coronation Street, he played one of life's losers, always at the back of the queue, always on the make for something better.
As Jack Butler, Steve feels some sympathy for another man at the end of his tether.
Sitting in a café next to a grimly windswept Wakefield Theatre Royal, where Godber and his actors have been ensconced in rehearsals for the past week, Steve is in a relaxed, contemplative, mood.
Godber himself is sat the next table, eating cake, leaving the Bradford-based actor the chance to speak up.
Gone are Corrie Eddie's unkempt locks, replaced by a short crop and a sports-casual wardrobe.
"Oh, yes, I can definitely identify with Jack. I think we've all been there," he laughs.
"I've never actually gone on walkabout myself, but I have thought about it. I can remember feeling that pressure he's under.
"As an actor, you always have to bring your own experience to a part. You can't play what you don't know.
"We've all wanted to throw it all in and do one at some point. The difference is Jack does it, and this is what happens when he does."
As well as focusing on one man's despair at the parlous state of his own life, Losing The Plot also has a few satirical jibes at the wider world to make, says Steve.
"It is funny," he grins. "It's typical Godber, so it has to be funny.
"It's definitely aware of what's happening out in the world.
"What with the economy, the cuts, the endless dumbing down, the fact all these kids are coming out of university with degrees and they can't get jobs. But I don't want to paint the picture that it's all bleak. It's not.
"At the end of the day, it's a comedy. There's plenty of humour in the characters.
"The quality is in the writing, really. I can see the similarity with something like Coronation Street – it's good because it's all about the quality of the scripts. there's absolutely no fat on them.
"Every word earns its keep."
Speaking of Coronation Street, Steve still has happy memories of his three years on the Weatherfield soap, which ended when the hapless Eddie was packed off to Germany in 2011.
"I always knew it would be a finite thing," he admits.
"The problem is, a lot of people go into something like Coronation Street thinking they will be the next Ken Barlow and will still be there in 50 years' time.
"You get really well looked after and it can give you a false sense of security.
"Luckily, I'm long enough in the tooth to know all good things come to an end.
"And a change is a good as a rest. It's giving me the chance to do other things, like this play.
"If I'd stayed, maybe the pressure would have got to me and I'd have done a runner, too. This way, I just have to do it on stage."
Losing The Plot
When: Tuesday, February 19, to Saturday, February 23, nightly 7.45pm. Matinee – Saturday, February 23, 2pm.
Where: Hull Truck, Ferensway, Hull.
Tickets: From £15. Matinee £12.
To book: 01482 323638.