Review: Sully, Hull Truck Theatre, Hull, until May 26

York Press: Fidel Nanton as Clive Sullivan Fidel Nanton as Clive Sullivan

Nobody could be more chuffed at the return of Sully than Hull Truck Theatre lead actor Fidel Nanton.

"Oh yes, I'm very happy, and it's a longer run as well, " says Fidel, who returns to the title role in Dave Windass's story of Hull sporting hero Clive Sullivan, rugby league icon of both Hull FC and Hull KR.

"Nothing could prepare me for the warmth I received in this role last year. People would come up to me in the pub, without even seeing the play, to say 'thank you for playing Clive on stage', and it was as if they had last seen him only two weeks earlier."

Clive Sullivan MBE, the last Great British captain to lift the rugby league World Cup, died of cancer at 42, but his fame lives on in Hull, and not only in the name of the road, Clive Sullivan Way, in which Windass's play is set.

"The first thing I read about Clive used the word 'legend'.

That word is used lightly today but this man was a superstar, " Fidel says. "You find you're saying certain things in the show and the audience know it all already. Like they know the scores, and you think to yourself, 'Don't get it wrong'."

Windass's play recreates the life and tries - more than 350 in the colours of the two Hull clubs - of the Cardiff-born flying winger with the use of only minimal props and no playing field.

"We have only a piece of rope, a chair, two beer crates and the road, nothing else, and it's testament to Clive Sullivan that people just want the show to be great, whatever the setting, " says Fidel.

Fidel, a southerner from Ascot, has been amazed by all the help and advice he has received for his role, not least from Clive Sullivan's relatives.

"The script helped a lot, and that was a godsend, but I've had little bits of information passed on to me, such as people telling me how Clive loved cowboy movies or how nervous Clive was before the start and how he'd always have a sherry before a game, " says Fidel.

"So I had a sherry every time I did the show? just sherry? it just calms you down, about 90 minutes before we went on stage. Well, you grasp anything for research, like watching DVDs of Clive in action, or listening to The Drifters as he used to love them, and watching Cool Hand Luke because he loved that film."

The play takes a journey through Sullivan's life from childhood in the only black family in Splott to his career-threatening calcified legs and onwards to his Challenge Cup triumphs and early death, in a story told in a traffic jam when Clive's ghost appears suddenly.

"This storyline is a fantastic way to get into all the different chapters of his life, " Fidel says.

"If you go along with the idea of him needing to reclaim his road to move on, you will go along with the story taking him from five to 42, and it's a wonderful story."

Sully runs at Hull Truck Theatre, Hull, until May 26, 8pm. Box office: 01482 323638.

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