Let the river run: Hiraeth @sohotheatre

Some people are rocks. Some people are rivers. Some people can be rocks in rivers. Some people can be rocks just nearby the river. And so on and so on and so on.

These important observations are about as deep as things get in Hiraeth. The word is Welsh for longing. But notwithstanding the flimsy premise the piece is a sweet-natured, whimsical account of  one woman’s journey from a small Welsh farming town to London.

It has just concluded its week long run at the Soho Theatre but given the popularity of the show and the appealing performances, I suspect it won’t be the last time London audiences will get to see it.

The star and co-creator of the show Buddug James Jones comes from  five generations of Welsh farmers. But her desire to leave and forge a career in art is the sense of conflict.

Not much happens in the end. She moves to London and finds that being Welsh and from a small community a bit of an outsider. She is unlucky in love but amongst all the hardship she realises that she can’t go back. Like a river she has to keep moving.

Along the way you will get to sing / shout you are a rock (or a river) and get the chance to eat Welsh cake.

Co-creator Max Mackintosh has unenviable task of taking on all the characters in Jone’s life; her parents, grandmother, boyfriends (Welsh and Spanish) and other random people. He also gets to play the guitar. A deadpan David Grubb accompanies the two with violin and drums and obligatory comic interactions.

The show has been to Edinburgh and has the feel of that fringe sub-genre of solo shows where the performer inflicts their life story on an unsuspecting audience. A greater insight into life in Wales might have helped. Going by this piece there isn't much to life in Wales other than getting drunk and pushing over porta-loos. You may be forgiven for thinking the departure was a no-brainer. But the sweet natured performances make the piece a bit more special. And the Welsh cakes handed out at the end of the show...


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