Review: Jack Lear, Hull Truck Theatre, until February 2. Box office: 01482 323638 or at hulltruck,

BARRIE Rutter calls himself a freelance these days, having left behind his actor-manager years at Northern Broadsides. He is strongly associated with both Hull, his home city, and the plays of Shakespeare, the core of Broadsides' work, and the two come together on his return to the Humber.

More precisely, he has returned to Ben Benison's punchy, blank-versed, two-hour reinterpretation of King Lear, Jack Lear, revisiting the lead role he first played in the premiere he directed up the East Coast at Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre in 2008.

He now has two King Lears and two Jack Lears on his CV, but there is no Lear fatigu, neither in his pugnacious direction, nor his typically muscular performance, one that combines his prowess at blunt, northern comedy and grandstanding tragedy.

His Jack Lear is a "stinking rich" but tight-fisted Humber trawlerman, long deserted by his wife, since when he has been miserably tough on his daughters he so wished were sons, raising them as "Dane men daughters" in oilskins who work with Jack in the gruelling, masculine, fast-fading fishing industry of the Seventies.

Tyrannous, grouchy Jack is blighted by creeping old age, vulnerable, but still swaggering, as he calls his daughters together to split up his fleet of trawlers in exchange for being looked after in his final years.

Sarah Naughton's Freda and Nicola Sanderson's Morgana, darkly humorously grim, rebellious and impatient for liberty, are soon at war with each other over the attentions of Andy Cryer's scene-stealing slippery lawyer, disco-dancing ladies' man Edmund: anything to distract them from Jack's boozing and tiresome bragging as they switch to over-the-top party dresses.

Amid the playful spirit that Benison brings to this destructive, rowdy, competitive triangle, there are the more serious, psychological strands of the deluded Lear's decline into dementia in a nursing home after the ravages of his last-hurrah storm scene, coupled with the troubled path of resentful youngest daughter Victoria (Olivia Onyehara), rejected by Jack after declining his gift and hastily ejected by her greedy sisters. This contrast in tempo gives the more tender, melancholic tragedy a better chance to grip, but the restless, savage humour often has the upper hand.

Benison weaves Norse mythology into his Lear, a distinguishing feature that sets his play apart from Shakespeare's original, as much as the modern-day setting, while Rutter's directorial decision to invite Robin Hood's Bay folk musician Eliza Carthy to provide a cappella sea shanties and bursts of percussion echoes the vitality of the music so important to Broadsides' show.

Add Kate Unwin's nautical sets, and Jack Lear finds its home in Hull, sometimes funny, sometimes furious, life gutted like a fish.

Charles Hutchinson