MAXINE Peake has already resurrected one Yorkshire story that should be better known: the remarkable deeds of champion cyclist Beryl Burton in Beryl.

Likewise, the Hull UK City Of Culture 2017 has brought to attention the pugilistic prowess of Hull's own Barbara Buttrick, The Mighty Atom.

Now comes another City of Culture story that packs a punch: the tale of "Big Lil", 17-stone Lillian Bilocca (her surname is Maltese), as told by the Lancastrian Peake, although she is not alone this time. Val Holmes's documentary play Lil ran in Hull last week and word has it that Hull-born, York-resident screenwriter Mark Herman is working on a television adaptation.

Hull's festival has had many causes for celebration, and The Last Testament Of Lillian Bilocca is one of the very best. First, Maxine Peake; then add folk's most significant force, Adrian McNally and The Unthanks, playing live in Sixties attire, and, not least, The Guildhall, a wood-panelled civic palace that bears testament to Hull's more glorious past. Thank you to the authorities for allowing its use for Peake's play, in which it becomes a character in itself, brilliantly orchestrated by director Sarah Frankcom.

Quick history lesson. In 1968, it was anything but the Summer of Love in Hull. Between January 11 and February 4, three Hull trawlers sank in stormy waters; 58 trawlermen died, only one survived. "Plenty more fish in the sea," mocked the smug host at that year's Silver Cod Ball. Lilian Bilocca, Mary Denness, Christine Jensen, Yvonne Blenkinsop, and more Hessle Road headscarf revolutionaries besides, were having none of it, delivering a petition to Parliament, calling for safety improvements. They won, but the Shipping Act came at a cost to Lillian Bilocca, who lost her job and remains a divisive figure in a city where the trawling trade itself sank.

Peake's poetic, sharply political, deeply humanistic play raises Big Lil to a more befitting status: fighting for workers' rights and conditions when the men were all at sea. It's played out as them and us, in Dario Fo and Bertolt Brecht tradition, the cigar-smoking, brandy-quaffing trawler owners versus the trawlermen, the "three-day millionaires" home all too briefly for a dance and a dalliance before the seas called again and their wives and loved ones were left waiting, yearning, hoping.

McNally, Rachel and Becky Unthank and their band provide a soundtrack cum musical commentary, haunting soundscapes, a cowboy song and later, in the climactic clash of dinner jacket and headscarf, the storming Whistling Women And Crowing Hens.

Pete Malkin's soundscape is crucial too, the sound of trawlers, the tempestuous seas, emerging from doorways in the corridors of power. Headsets, in Slung Low mode, come into play in the council chamber's harrowing central scene, and all ends in darkness, the cast, The Unthanks and the audience at one, finding peace at last long after that non-Summer Of Love.