Illustration of a white bride with blonde hair, in a white veil and dark smuged eye make-up. She is holding a glass while male hands pour champagne into the glasses, which is overflowing. The bride is also wearing a navy blue man's wedding jacket.

Baby, He Loves You comes to Hull from 19-28 April

By | News, Shows, Uncategorised

Details including dates and cast revealed for our big 2024 show: Baby, He Loves You, by Maureen Lennon

Illustration of a white bride with blonde hair, in a white veil and dark smuged eye make-up. She is holding a glass while male hands pour champagne into the glasses, which is overflowing. The bride is also wearing a navy blue man's wedding jacket.

How well do we know those who love us the most?

Bride-to-be Jodie is enjoying a rollercoaster of engagement parties and hen dos as her big day approaches. But when skeletons begin to tumble out of the closet, she must finally question what it means to love your family, no matter what.

Baby, He Loves You is a new play by Hull writer, Maureen Lennon, that weaves together original music, aerial acrobatics and storytelling under the intense gaze of a wedding party on Stage@TheDock.

A good night out

Dig out your favourite glad rags and join a hundred other guests in a decked-out marquee by the Humber for a wedding unlike any other.

Baby, He Loves You features original music by Ysabelle Wombwell, direction by Paul Smith, with choreography by Danielle Clements (Late Night Circus) and set design by Bethany Wells (Us Against Whatever; All We Ever Wanted Was Everything).

Many of the creative team behind 2023 hit, Modest, return with lighting design by Jessie Addinall, sound design by Tom Smith, costume design by Siân Thomas and dramaturgy by Middle Child literary manager, Matthew May.

Local cast

Hull actor Laura Meredith (Hullraisers, Coronation Street, Emmerdale) plays Jodie, alongside fellow locals Elle Ideson as best friend Lucy and Dan McGarry as dad, Phil.

University of Hull graduate Madeleine MacMahon (A Super Happy Story: About Feeling Super Sad) plays mum, Alison, while Jonathan Raggett plays fiancé, Mike.

Baby, He Loves You will run for 13 performances from 19-28 April, including four afternoon shows on Saturdays and Sundays.

Both performances on Saturday 27 April will include BSL interpretation by Sarah Cox.

Tickets go on-sale at noon, Tuesday 27 February, through the Middle Child website, at a suggested price of £20 but available from £15.

Baby, He Loves You is funded by Arts Council England and Hull City Council, with support from Wykeland and Stage@TheDock.

Visit our listing page for more details, including the full creative and production team credits.

Meet the cast of Red Riding Hood

By | News, Panto, Shows

The harvest moon is a-rising and trouble is on the way… in the shape of our fabulous panto cast!

Meet the gang who will bring Red Riding Hood to the stage at Social this Christmas, in our anarchic take on the classic fairytale.

Chosen by you in a public vote last year, our rock’n’roll panto features a gnarly werewolf, live music and the chance to make as much noise as you possibly can.

There’s some Hull faces who are familiar to panto fans, as well as a few new ones, who we’re sure you will welcome with open arms.

So without further ado, let’s introduce you to…

Alice Beaumont channelled Rik Mayall to play the Sheriff of Cottingham in Robin Hood last year to much acclaim.

This Christmas her character inspiration takes a sinister turn, as she injects the spirit of Margaret Thatcher into Baroness Scrimp, the politician out to destroy Red Riding Hood and Pattie Breadcake’s bakery.

Drummer extraordinaire Jack Chamberlain, who played King John in Robin Hood, sticks to the dark side this year, as hunter Colonel Montgomery Blowhard.

Blowhard by name, blowhard by nature, this khaki-clad nuisance is Scrimp’s right-hand man but more bark than bite.

Marc Graham returns as dame Pattie Breadcake, who has kicked the habit following last year’s spiritual sortie as Sister Skeg.

This year business is booming at the Buns of Steel bakery, where Pattie has her fingers in all the pies. The only thing missing is a fella to fix her soggy bottoms.

Long-time panto star Josie Morley resumes the role of audience friend, this time playing Jack Lumber.

He’s a lumberjack (geddit?) and so was his dad, and his dad before him, and his dad before him, and his dad before him. But his dad before him was an estate agent and we don’t talk about that.

Making her panto debut is Sarah Penney, of Beach Body Ready and Fast Food Megaverse fame.

Fun fact: Sarah’s skeleton is composed entirely of funny bones, so bring a mop because an accidental wee is 100% guaranteed.

Your favourite reluctant stage manager, Andy Ross, will once again appear with all the vim and vigour we’ve come to expect from them.

And after a star-turn as a moon in Robin Hood, we’ve managed to craft an entire extra character out of the same joke. Who says the arts are underfunded?

Oliver Strong returns as understudy, ready to step-in should a performer fall ill, as he did with great aplomb last Christmas.

You may also recognise Oliver from Faustus, by From Below at Stage at the Dock and as the Dungeon Master in Silent Uproar’s Dungeons and Dragons.

Beats Bus hero Kobby Taylor makes his first panto appearance since playing Flounder in The Little Mermaid.

This time Kobby, who also appeared in There Should Be Unicorns, plays Rupert Scaremonger, the roving reporter sowing seeds of fear among the people of Hull.

New behind the keys at Social this Christmas is Natalie Walker, who will lead the band in our rock’n’roll takes on various pop songs. Her most recent work includes Beverley Does Broadway and The Pirates of Christmas Island with She Productions.

And joining us on Saturday 23 December as BSL interpreter for three performances, including family and late-night shows, is Dave Wycherley.

Dave has interpreted our pantomimes every year since 2017 and we are delighted to have him join us again this Christmas.

Production team

Working their panto magic behind the scenes is our amazing production team.

Natalie Young is the evergreen brains behind our set, props and costume design and Katie Price, who turned up on our doorstep with a portfolio of costume work, is now our very first panto costume maker, bringing Natalie’s designs to life.

Adam Foley is our veteran lighting designer, tasked with glowing up the Buns of Steel bakery, Anlaby Woods and other scenery.

Jay Hirst joins the rehearsal room as deputy stage manager and will run the show from the tech desk in the venue, alongside sound engineer Tom Smith, while Anja Bryan-Smith joins panto for the first time as stage manager, after working on our Gipsyville project, This One’s For Us.

Jon Beney also enters the fray for the first time as choreographer.

Paul Smith, Middle Child’s artistic director, has once again written the script after it was selected by last year’s audience. He will also direct the show.

And finally the Middle Child core team will produce, production manage, dramaturg and market the show.

  • Tickets for Red Riding Hood are on-sale now, available from £13.50-19.50
bizarre fae from Three Minute Monologues

Three Minute Monologues: Uncovered

By | Blog, Shows

An inside perspective of Three Minute Monologues

Three Minute Monologues is a collaborative writer showcase between the Warren Youth Project and Middle Child, funded by Comic Relief, in which writers and professional actors work with young people to create short but sweet monologues.

These come from creative writing workshops that have taken place over the past year, with those results passed to playwrights who used their work as inspiration for original monologues.

These monologues will be performed for the first time at Social on Thursday 31 August, as part of Freedom Festival 2023.

Ahead of the sharing we asked, Andie, aka anti-pop/electro/punk artist Bizarre Fae, to share their experience of contributing to the project.

When Three Minute Monologues began I was super excited to work on these, writing alongside the awesome spoken word poet, Jodie Langford. I feel truly blessed to have been part of this project and I can’t wait to see these monologues be performed now we have received and read them. 

Early in the project, I was nervous to write honestly. It felt much easier to write silly stories about the topics we were given, but as I listened to my peers share their writings I became more and more confident in my ability to share truth in my words. It became a weekly safe space for all of us that I looked forward to, not just for my creative outlet, but also to hear the self-expression of my fellow writers.

The group was made up of a large variety of creatives, some of whom did not consider themselves creative at all. It was beautiful to see my newfound friends discover confidence in their imagination and creative ability, many of them continuing to write outside of the project. Hearing the words of my peers was inspirational and empowering: it made me aspire to bear more of my soul in my words.  

When we got the scripts back it was exhilarating, seeing the personality of my peers laced into such creative retellings of our words was an unexpected highlight. The first script we read was an incredible piece called The Secret Diary Of Robyn No-Breast. Personally, I’ve struggled with gender identity since I was a little kid. I never understood the harsh confines of what was deemed ‘for boys’ and ‘for girls’. Much like Robyn, I found comfort in the nonbinary identity. It was cathartic to read a story of someone so similar to myself, to finally be face-to-face with a character who echoed my experience navigating this crazy divided world. 

In the next script, A List Of All The People More Fucked Up Than Me,  

that relatability and catharsis grew stronger, as I saw my influence in Molly’s speech. As she began her birthday celebration, it was wonderful to live vicariously through this trailblazing mad woman. I cannot tell you the number of times I have daydreamed of giving a room full of billionaires what-for about their mistreatment of others. The art of anarchy shone through in the writing of this monologue and it made me so happy to see the true angst of youth shine through. 

With  Life: It’s The Best the tone shifts extraordinarily in a fascinating way. The concept of a bureau between life and death was intriguing from the get-go, allowing a more existential conversation that left a profound impact on me. Although less youthful in tone, a lot was to be gained from the dissociation from the innate human experience. After the main character pulls themself through an entire lifespan in the blink of an eye, they rush to alert the bureau to the necessity for human connection. For me, this is an echo of the depersonalisation forced onto us from a young age in the school system. The way we are trained to hide our individuality to be good little workers, regardless of the impact on our mental health. We only get one life and we should be able to express that in whatever way feels natural. They are our memories to take to the grave and nobody should be able to make us feel as though our life is not our own. 

The impact of this experience has been truly eye-opening. Seeing so many minds come together to produce these monologues has been heartwarming. From sitting in the writing sessions and opening myself up to listening to my peers do the same, to reading the way these conversations were interpreted by a third party, it’s been a truly life-changing experience and I would be eager to participate in something like this again. 

  • See Three Minute Monologues for free at Social on Thursday 31 August, from 7.30pm. Book tickets through the Freedom Festival website.

Out Loud scratch night returns with double-bill

By | Artist Development, News, Shows

Tickets are now on-sale for our second edition of Out Loud, a scratch night in Hull for new writing, produced in collaboration with Silent Uproar.

Following last year’s sharing of Casino by Larner Wallace-Taylor, we’re back with a double-header over two nights – Friday 28 and Saturday 29 July – at our rehearsal space on High Street.

1988 by Hannah Scorer

In 1988 two young women fall in love with each other and the idea of changing the world. Motivated by the horrors of Section 28, they find themselves pushed apart as one tries to fight the system by becoming part of it and the other takes an increasingly radical route.

Shit Life Crisis by Olivia Hannah

Grace has beaten cancer, but she doesn’t feel like a winner. As she holds a memorial for her best friend, Abbie, who helped her through the illness, Grace reveals all the ways in which chemo saved her life by tearing it apart, and questions whether what’s left was worth saving at all.

Hannah Scorer came through the Middle Child Writers’ Group, while Olivia Hannah has come through Silent Uproar’s Making Trouble programme.

A further edition of Out Loud will take place in October, featuring Cuckoo by Chris Pearson, another writer from the Middle Child Writers’ Group.

Out Loud is a showcase for new writers to see early drafts of their plays performed for the first time, in front of a friendly audience.

Tickets are available on a pay what you decide basis, meaning you reserve your seat for free, then pay on the evening after the performance, with sharings at 7pm on both Friday 28 July and Saturday 29 July.

Interview with Modest writer, Ellen Brammar

By | Blog, Shows

Playwright Ellen Brammar sits down with us for a look inside the creation of her newest show, Modest. 

The year is 1874. The Royal Academy of Arts debuts a painting in its annual Summer Exhibition entitled Calling the Roll After An Engagement, Crimea. As Ellen Brammar would herself joke in 2023 – catchy title. 

Better known as The Roll Call, this painting garnered the attention of Britain, creating a celebrity of one yet unknown, female artist, Elizabeth Thompson. 

148 years later Elizabeth and her story of overnight fame have captured the attention of playwright and Middle Child founding member, Ellen Brammar. 

Crafting a raucous comedy out of the life of a woman whose dreams crumble for being as such, Ellen has dragged Elizabeth’s talent back into public view and into the modern.  

We sat down with Ellen to talk about her journey of piecing Modest together over the last five years and creating fiction out of fact, as Elizabeth Thompson once again prepares to catch the eye of the nation.   

Where did the inspiration come from to write Modest?

About five years ago I listened to the first ever episode of Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History, ‘The Lady Vanishes’, where he talks about Elizabeth Thompson: the Victorian painter who became famous overnight and how she almost became the first woman elected into the Royal Academy of Arts.  

Whilst I was listening to the episode, I was really drawn into the story and I thought: “This would make a great play. Someone should write that.” It took me another year before I came to the realisation that that someone could be me.  

I used it as an inspiration, I suppose, for the work I was about to make with Middle Child. I just thought that it was just a really good story that I could use as part of my research, or use to influence me into making a completely fictional play.  

Which I did – write a fictional play – with that in mind, but actually really didn’t like the thing I’d written. After about six months of working on it being like “it’s not very good”, I threw it away. 

It’s one of the scariest things you can do as a writer, but also one of the most satisfying. Throwing away a whole draft is like ripping off a plaster. It feels really good. 

Then I spoke to Paul [Smith, co-director of Modest and Middle Child artistic director], and I just said, “That story about Elizabeth Thompson that we have been using as influence, could I just write her story? Could I just take her and write that story?” He, being someone who is big on risk taking, just went: “Yeah, go for it. Do it and see what happens.” So I did.

What do you think it is about Elizabeth that continually brought you back to writing her character?

Real people often aren’t what you want them to be. Their stories don’t always fit into the perfect narrative. But that’s what I loved about Elizabeth and this moment in her life. And it was just that, a moment; I only explore five years in the play.

This is where the first idea came that the Elizabeth in the play should be flawed; she doesn’t do what the modern audience would want her to do. She describes in her autobiography how she missed out getting elected into the Royal Academy, finishing with the devastating line: “The door has been closed. And wisely.” Ultimately accepting their decision and agreeing with it.

There were other lines from her autobiography that really drew me in, painting a picture of who Elizabeth could have been. One of my favourites, “I will single myself out”, ignited the idea that my Elizabeth would be determined and gloriously arrogant.

How truthful did you feel your portrayal of Elizabeth needed to be as you were writing her?

I began as close to fact as history allows, reading her autobiography, looking at essays about her and her art. There was not actually that much written about her, but there was enough to actually start understanding what happened and to look into her character. 

The only way I could really think about her actual character was from her autobiography. There were certain lines in her autobiography that really stood out that made me think about her being really determined. She knew what she wanted and that’s what really came across for me. 

But it became really clear, pretty quickly, that I needed to create a fictional character. The Elizabeth in the play is not the ‘real’ Elizabeth, she can’t be, and I wouldn’t want her to be. I needed to create a character that fitted my purposes, so that’s when I started straying away and I just did that happily. 

I never wanted to write a factual piece about Elizabeth Thompson. That was really freeing, the minute that I started thinking that I don’t know the real Elizabeth and I’m never going to know the real Elizabeth, so it was great to dive into creating a completely fictional one. 

Saying that, I still wanted to have elements, or a flavour, of the real woman. That’s why I’ve kept some direct quotes from her autobiography in the play.   

I found it a real tricky balance throughout about things that happened to her and what facts I needed to keep, which ones I could change and which ones I could mould to suit the story. Real life doesn’t work in a linear narrative like how we tell stories.  

There had to be certain things where I needed dips, or I needed the energy to go up, or the energy of a crisis point at a certain moment in the play, so I had to mould that a little bit.  

I didn’t want to play around with the actual fact facts – time scales and things like that -0 and I really tried not to, but I think something that I found was I had to let go a little of that.  

In the play the first scene title is “It’s All True Apart From When We’re Lying” and I think that gave me the license to be like, yeah, this is what happened but I’m going to lie and I‘m going to be okay with that. 

What is your usual writing process and how was writing Modest a different experience to writing previously?

My process of writing Modest was mainly different due to the amount of time I’ve been writing it. I was first commissioned by Middle Child five years ago. It’s been a long process.

It wasn’t meant to be that long, but the pandemic pushed us back and I had two babies in that time too. 

It’s been hard at times, wondering if was ever going to happen, but also a bit of a luxury, to have such an extended amount of time meant that I could really immerse myself in it. Not that I’ve been writing solidly for five years, far from it. I’ve had two lots of maternity leave for starters.  

It’s been me dipping in and out of it, me being a parent and struggling with having newborns and three-year-olds. But the play’s been there, at the back of my mind, for a long time, bubbling away. 

It has been a luxury because the play has really evolved and it’s had the time and space to do that. My writing process in general has probably changed as well.  

I could never write in the afternoons, so I used to just write for about two or three hours in the morning. As my time has been pressured more by having kids, if I’m honest, I find that I have to be less picky about when I write, so I try now to just write whenever I can, while still having a healthy work-life balance.

What is the draw for you to writing powerful women?

I’m really drawn to power, or the lack of it. It was my mentor who pointed out to me that I write about power a lot. I always seem to return to characters that are grappling to get power after having it taken away, or never having any in the first place. It’s about agency and not feeling that they’ve got that. 

The characters that I write are often people that I’m not, or that have elements that I would like to have in my personality but don’t. I’ve loved writing Elizabeth, she’s unapologetically self-assured and I think I would like that in my own personality.  

Making these characters 3D and making them flawed – deeply flawed in most cases – is really good as well. I never wanted Elizabeth to be the saviour. You’re not going to watch it and go “oh my gosh, she’s got all the answers”, because I don’t have all the answers.  

Writing a play is a writer saying: “I don’t have all the answers, I’m going to write about how I don’t have all the answers and see where we end up.” And that’s okay. I don’t think you can go see a piece of art and think this is the answer to everything.

At what point did Modest take on its current form and become a piece of drag, cabaret and queer art?

That mainly happened when Luke [Skilbeck, co-director of Modest] from Milk Presents came on board. I sort of always knew that there was going to be some element of drag in it, because we always knew that we were going to have to double-up casting.  

The RAs, the men in the show, say some really disgusting things and are really misogynistic and it felt like that had to be sent up. As I was writing it, I never thought this was a really serious piece. It had to be heightened in a way and we knew that drag would do that.  

During one of the R&Ds me and Paul had a chat and we both agreed that we needed someone who knew that craft and Luke came instantly to mind.  

Luke read the play and thought, actually, there’s lots in here that lends itself to queer art, to cabaret and to drag and then they came on board and then we sort of spent the next four or five drafts bringing that in.  

Really, the story stayed exactly the same. It was more bringing out elements of the script to make it suit the form a bit more.

What is the process like for yourself as a writer to open the doors to a creative team?

You start by being in your bedroom on your own for hours at a time, just you and your laptop, occasionally sending it to people and hoping that they like it – and dreading their notes – to then suddenly being in a room full of 30 people.  

It’s daunting and overwhelming but really exciting. I think you have to just trust that everyone knows their craft. You’ve done the writing, you’ve put the words down and then you just have to just trust that everyone else is going to take that and do what they do.  

They know what they’re doing and that’s the really cool bit of it. The actors know what they’re doing, the set designer knows what they’re doing, the lighting designer knows what they’re doing, the directors know what they’re doing and it all just comes together. It’s collaborative.  

Plays aren’t meant just to be read, they’re meant to be seen and performed.

How does this process feel for you from being a founding member of Middle Child to now being the writer on the largest show Middle Child has put on to date?

I think it’s surreal. I think the two things, being a founding member and being the writer of Modest, feel very different. I never ever, ever would’ve imagined when we started the company that I would have written this show or that I would be here.  

Honestly, ten or eleven years ago, I would not have believed that at all. I can’t really marry the two things together.

What are your hopes for Modest?

I want people to see it mainly. It’s going to be a really special show and it deserves to be seen. People should see it, people are going to really enjoy it.  

It’s joyful and there are moments of hope in there as well. I think it’s going to be a great show that should go far.

  • The world premiere of Modest opens tonight at Hull Truck Theatre, playing until this Saturday 27 May. Modest will then tour the UK, concluding at Kiln Theatre, London. 

Behind the scenes video of Modest

By | Shows

The first performance of Modest, our new show in collaboration with Milk Presents, written by Ellen Brammar with music by Rachel Barnes, is now just days away from opening.

In the last week of rehearsals, at our space in Hull’s old town, we invited Fly Girl Films to come and speak with some of the team about what audiences can expect from the show.

Modest premieres at Hull Truck Theatre, 23-27 May, before heading on tour to the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield; Northern Stage, Newcastle; New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich; Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough; The Warehouse in Holbeck, Leeds and Kiln Theatre, London.

See our Modest page for all dates and tickets details.

Modest embedded artist: Celeste Richardson

By | Blog, Shows

What would happen if we invited a visual artist into the Modest rehearsal room to observe the process of creating a play, and then respond to it through their preferred medium?

That was an idea posed by Jill Howitt and Thomas Robinson of the Critical Fish, an artist-led project in Hull which promotes critical but accessible writing about art and visual culture.

And it was an idea we loved. We’ve paid for an embedded critic to join us in the room before, so why not an embedded artist?

Step forward Celeste Richardson, an artist living and working in Hull, who is studying for a BA in Fine Art at Hull School of Art and Design. They graduate in summer 2023 and make figurative oil paintings.

Celeste’s practice is a continuous investigation into making sense of and expressing one’s own queer identity. Their paintings examine compartmentalised, conflicting versions of self and converge them on the canvas, celebrating gender non-conformity and fluidity.

They are influenced by contemporary drag performers, and Michael Warner’s writings on Counterpublics. Perfect for Modest, then.

Celeste joined us for a full day of rehearsals on Tuesday 9 May, when the company was working on staging the final few scenes of the show, as well as recapping choreography so far.

Below are their sketches from that day, accompanied by some thoughts on the process.

Celeste Richardson

“I immediately noticed the collaborative nature of the rehearsal process. The actors and creative team work together, generating ideas all the time and listening to every voice in the room.

“This allows the scenes to be delivered in a way that feels authentic and representative of the people who relate to the story, because the actors have a say.

“Because of this, the rehearsal room was a completely safe space. Everyone has the confidence and support to be themselves, make suggestions, experiment, try things, fail, try again, free of judgement.

“This environment of total acceptance is something I have not experienced to this degree of completeness, and I felt an atmosphere of optimism, excitement and electricity from this that was hugely inspiring and affirming for me personally.

“I would describe the actual process of constructing the scenes as representative of queerness, not just the themes of the play.”



Drawings #1 and #2 were responses to this. I was focusing on that idea of a concentration of energy and that being a catalyst for playfulness, freedom, fluidity, identity evolving/shifting and elevating queer voices. I loved how everyone was taking up space in the room, being loud, vocal and unapologetic.



Drawings #3 and #4 respond more directly to the material and characters. The inclusion of the top hat is a clear subversion of gender roles at the time, so these drawings were playing on that breaking down of the categories of gender, with references to classical busts with the statue-like figures. 



Drawing #5 responds to the ‘Bossy Women song. I felt an intensity and strength that gained amplitude as the song went on and as the characters realised their power and ambition. I wanted to capture the feeling of a collision of energy. 

Drawing #6 responds to the scene where Elizabeth gets rejected by the RA. This scene, to me, was an abrupt reminder of the boundaries in place for the characters.

I started with the imagery of a business suit and exaggerated the harsh lines of that image, playing off my initial drawings that focused on energy, freedom and fluidity, and directly opposing that: the dark, opaque marks absorb and diminish energy, and the jagged lines are sharp and unforgiving. 



Drawing #7 responds to the feeling of empowerment for women and queer people that the play champions. I quickly sketched different iterations of gender presentation, trying to embody that same sense of energy and potential.

My material selection was important for all the responses, e.g., graphite and charcoal naturally refuse detail, which allows me to suggest shapes and focus on the overall feeling of the drawing and not get caught up in details within the figures that do not matter.

Drawing #8 responds to the scene where Malais and Elizabeth talk after her rejection. I was intrigued by the actors’ positioning in the space; being across the room from each other amplified the tension between them during this emotional scene.

I felt the lack of colour was important here, as this scene is another moment where the characters are grounded, reminded of the reality of the boundaries at play for them. 

Middle Child would like to thank Celeste for joining us in the room, as well as Jill Howitt and Thomas Robinson of The Critical Fish for suggesting the idea and then putting us in touch with Celeste.

It’s the first time we’ve shared our process in this way and found it hugely inspiring to see a visual artist respond to our work and with such immediacy.

The Critical Fish will also be running a free workshop at Ferens Art Gallery, on Saturday 27 May, to view and discuss Elizabeth Thompson’s painting The Return from Inkerman.

Book your place when buying a ticket for Modest at Hull Truck Theatre.

Rehearsal Photos: Modest

By | Shows

Distinguished guests of the Royal Academy summer exhibition, welcome to the rehearsal room of Modest *doffs hat* 🎩

Our drag king cabaret-inspired play with Milk Presents about Victorian artist, Elizabeth Thompson, is deep into rehearsals ahead of opening at
Hull Truck Theatre 23-27 May.

This week the cast have been focusing on choreography with Tamar and Jo, as well as finessing Rachel Barnes’ musical numbers.

We have one more week of rehearsals in our space in Hull’s old town, before we move into the studio at Hull Truck to bring together lighting, sound, set and costume. Then everything shifts into the main auditorium for our first performance on Tuesday 23 May.

Book tickets now through the Hull Truck Theatre box office, or see our other tour dates.

Photos by Jessica Zschorn.

A woman in vivid pink Victorian dress stands confident and cocksure with her hand on her hip, surrounded by four drag kings in tail coats. Two of the drag kings wear top hats, another has Afro hair style and another a long flowing mullet. The four drag kings variously hold paintbrushes, an empty picture frame and messy paint palettes.

Step into character with the cast of Modest

By | Shows

Music hall, theatre and drag king swagger collide as Modest brings you Elizabeth Thompson – megastar of the Victorian art scene.

Meet the cast as they step into character for the first time for a new photoshoot to promote the show.

Elizabeth Thompson

Emer Dineen in Modest

Emer Dineen is Elizabeth Thompson, the artist who shook up Victorian Britain with her war paintings and fell two votes short of becoming the first woman elected to the Royal Academy in 1879.


Jacqui Bardelang in Modest

Jacqui Bardelang is Royal Academician (RA), Millais. He’s fond of the thought of Elizabeth Thompson joining the Academy, and even more fond of himself. Jacqui also plays the role of Cora, an artist friend of Elizabeth’s.

RA One

LJ Parkinson in Modest

LJ Parkinson is RA One and gives pure mutton chop, animal magnetism. LJ also plays the role of Elizabeth’s friend, Mary.

RA Two

Fizz Sinclair in Modest

Fizz Sinclair plays RA Two and Elizabeth’s sister, suffragist poet, Alice. RA Two puts the “vituperative” in Victorian and shudders at the thought of a woman in the Academy.

RA Three

Isabel Adomakoh Young in Modest

Isabel Adomakoh Young is RA Three and Elizabeth’s friend, Frances. RA Three is the archetype Victorian nepo-baby himbo bad boy. He doesn’t know why he’s in the Academy, and nor do we.


Libra Teejay in Modest

Libra Teejay is Bessie, a teenage fan of Elizabeth, who has saved and scrimped every ha’penny they earn in the factory to see her work in the summer exhibition. Libra also plays the role of Queen Victoria.

The stunning new photos were shot by Jessica Zschorn of Studio Blue Creative at Whites Hire Studio, with costumes by Modest costume designer Terry Herfield and associate costume designer Sian Thomas.

Art direction is by Middle Child audience development manager Jamie Potter, with support from Erin Anderson and Luke Skilbeck.

A portrait of a Victorian woman with a red punk newsprint effect overlaid with black and white mismatched letters which spell Modest

Modest, a new show about Elizabeth Thompson

By | News, Shows

Hold tight, Hull – we’re back at Hull Truck Theatre in 2023 with a brand new show, produced in collaboration with the wonderful Milk Presents.

Music hall, theatre and drag king cabaret erupt as Modest brings you Elizabeth Thompson – megastar of the Victorian art scene.

In 1874 Elizabeth stuns the Royal Academy with her painting, Roll Call. Five years later, she falls two votes short of becoming the first woman elected to the academy.

In between, she must shoulder the hopes and dreams of women across the country, while fighting for her place at a table full of top hats, ties and mutton chop beards.

Performed by a cast of actor-musicians, this punk-spirited show will break your heart and start a revolution.

Written by Ellen Brammar (I Hate Alone) with music by Rachel Barnes, Modest is a good night out co-directed by Leo Skilbeck (Milk Presents) and Paul Smith (Middle Child), heading to Hull and then out on tour.

It features movement direction by Tamar and Jo, set design by QianEr Jin, costume design by Terry Herfield, sound design by Eliyana Evans and lighting design by Jessie Addinall.

Modest is a collaboration with Milk Presents, developed with the support of the National Theatre’s Generate programme.

Dates for our run at Hull Truck Theatre will be announced soon, while tickets are now on-sale for performances at the New Wolsey theatre in Ipswich from 16-17 June 2023.