WHEREVER you look in theatreland, you can find a satirical James Graham play about real events. Quiz opens in the West End this spring, following Labour Of Love, Ink and This House on to the London boards. This House, his Seventies' political drama, re-emerges at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, from February 23 to March 10.

If Quiz and This House dip into the past, then The Culture, his commission for Hull, UK City of Culture 2017, is too now for history but still asks him to assess events, in this case 365 days of culture in one year in a city that some sniffy types might say had not previously had even 365 days of culture in its entire history. Although Alan Plater, Mick Ronson, John Godber, Richard Bean, The Housemartins,Tom Courteney, The Beautiful South, Maureen Lipman, Philip Larkin and others might say "what a load of sphericals" to that.

The year has been a success, 1.4 million visitors testify to that, but how do you assess success? Ah, well, that was the role of M&E, the Culture Company's Monitoring and Evaluation team, with its penchant for judging everything in statistics. Graham, an alumnus of the University of Hull, was given access to the Culture offices during the year, seeing M&E close up, hearing the buzz words, observing the strategic use of colours.

He is a satirist by inclination and his best work in The Culture is in that field, penning his appraisal of a Hull of a year with piercing humour, clearly no fan of statistics, but certain that the people of Hull had felt better about themselves and their end-of-the-line city, no longer thinking of it as dull and insular but exciting and outward looking.

However, as the full title indicates, The Culture is "A Farce In Two Acts". Farce is a more rigid comedic construct, one that requires a set location (tick), plenty of doors (tick), mistaken identities (tick), a central character always on the edge of "losing it" (tick); an outsider having a disruptive influence (tick); and a removal of trousers (tick).

York Press:

It's a farce! Andrew Dunn, centre, in The Culture. Picture: Andrew Billington

Graham fits them all in, whisks them up anew, but his comedic weaponry is less sharp, more contrived, when just playing it for laughs with the made-up bits rather than the truths that most struck him.

Amelia Donkor's statistics-obsessed arts admin cog Lizzie is the frazzled one, waiting on the arrival of civic leader from Coventry, the next City of Culture, and someone important from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. York actor Andrew Dunn's Dennis is the accidentally interfering one, a sign-maker with a gripe, who ends taking on the guise of both dignitaries. Andrew has been there, Dunn that, in comedy roles, and he handles it all with typical aplomb, but the moment that resonates is when he says what "culture" means to him.

Hull's year in the cultural sunshine has been anything but a farce, for Hullensians and visitors alike, and whatever the in-vogue algorithms may have been applied by the Culture Company bureaucrats, the year worked! The Culture: A Satire In Two Acts would have focused more on the age-old debate of why art and culture matter: it would have been a more serious comedy, but Graham shows enough glimpses within the familiar farce formula to make his points.

Mark Babych's direction drives the farce with bags of energy and Hull greats Courtenay and Lipman make recorded contributions that add up to some of the better farcical moments.

The Culture: A Farce In Two Acts, Hull Truck Theatre, until February 17. Box office: 01482 323638 or hulltruck.co.uk.