You’re dropped into the world of Peach House – a Middlesbrough tower block – before the play begins.
More specifically, you’re dropped into the mind of Bobby the Artist, one of the protagonists of Ten Storey Love Song, the new piece by Hull company Middle Child – the hallway leading to the theatre is decorated with his unsettling portraits.
This drug-warped young man – portrayed with bright-eyed nerviness by Marc Graham – is one of a cast of slightly damaged, but sympathetic, characters in a production which crackles with energy.
There’s a similarly sparky feel to Weekend Rockstars – the show that Middle Child took to the Edinburgh Fringe last year. Staged on a set built up from a series of blocks fitted with drawers – both practical for costume changes and a metaphor, maybe, for the things which each character keeps hidden from others – the show makes use of direct audience address to draw you in.
There are some impressive turns from the five-strong cast – including Matthew May as Alan, a lonely, boozy right-winger who bemoans the changing face of his home-town.
Luke Barnes’ script catches the rhythms and humour of Richard Milward’s source novel as well as the richness of its language – when Bobby glances at a pair of amorous pigeons, he notes that the male is chasing his intended target “like Benny Hill on birdseed”.
There’s a raucous humour which runs throughout the production – there’s a French-accented talking condom puppet – and this, combined with the use of live music, gives it the feel of a house party.
Backed by two large screens – full of images of drops of rain and bursts of flame – this is a surreal, and ultimately touching, glimpse into the world of these slightly lost characters.