Culture

Review: Flood: Abundance (Part 2)

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KCOM communications executive Ian Midgley reviews Flood: Abundance (Part 2), the second chapter of Hull 2017’s four-part epic adventure.

Even for a year regularly spiked with cultural firsts – Flood: Abundance (Part 2) must be up there as the most adventurous event of 2017.

A giant floating stage set adrift in the middle of Victoria Dock dealing with huge issues of war, climate change and refugees mixed in with some heady Biblical themes of apocalypse and the end of the world, it’s easy to see this is a show with big ambitions.

It’s no mean technical achievement too. Starting the story with a mini-movie, setting the scene online, Flood Abundance is the second instalment of a story set to run throughout 2017 – on TV, radio, online and then again with a live climax later this year.

Building the floating set, complete with motorboats, explosions, flying drones and holographic projections for the dockside audience, stood two or three deep, to watch while wearing headphones to follow proceedings, can’t have been easy but the production was flawless on opening night.

Production company Slung Low should certainly give themselves a pat on the back for managing to pull it off.

Without giving too much away, the plot continues the web story of a woman plucked naked from the North Sea by a father and son team of trawler men, with no memory of who she is or where she came from.

It doesn’t take long to establish there’s far more to the magnetic girl than meets the eye as her spiritual qualities are slowly revealed and the world seemingly plunges towards its end.

Is she an angel? The Second Coming? Or just an asylum seeker trying to play the system? And if the messiah was actually an asylum seeker would we recognise him or her or even care?

All these questions are thrown into the melting pot alongside a couple of unusual love stories as the show unfolds, slowly at first, towards a hectic finale.

The performances are universally strong from the floating cast who don’t seem fazed to be performing on what is essentially a giant pontoon.

The plot itself, taking today’s current refugee crisis as its starting point, is painted with broad, and not always too subtle, brushstrokes – but with the audience stood a good 50m away from the action the themes probably need to be big and brash to be seen.

And standing on the quayside in the oppressive dark as the icy wind whips in off the North Sea and the clouds glower above, it’s quite easy to believe the tale’s prediction of impending global disaster.

Standing in the biting cold watching proceedings for the best part of 90 minutes does become something of an endurance challenge towards the end, but luckily there is just enough action on the water to keep the mind occupied while the toes go blue.

Flood Abundance is certainly a brave and ambitious project the like of which has never been seen in Hull – or anywhere else for that matter – before. Those who will get the chance to see it during its week-long run in Victoria Dock will know they have witnessed something impressive.

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