STORIES FROM AN INVISIBLE TOWN
by Hugh Hughes with Derwyn Hughes and Delyth Hughes.
Tour to 8 December 2012.
Runs 2hr 35min Two intervals.
Review: Martin Franks 22 October at The Junction Cambridge.
Charming narrative ramble could do with greater sense of direction.
Hugh Hughes is a charming, enthusiastic weaver of personal tales – in this case his childhood memories prompted by the decision of his mother to sell the family home.
The show is created in three episodes. The first episode – the longest and best – is full of fabulous comic reflections on elegies of childhood. What got left in the top drawer in your bedroom? What did Father think of strangers who strayed into the vestibule? Who threw-up on the hall carpet?
And this cornucopia of memories leads to some wonderful streams of consciousness played out in a self-conscious post-modern interplay with the audience, dipping in and out of recreations of meetings and ’phonecalls, wrapped in Hughes’ own commentary. The ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ film of the clearing of Derwyn’s flat in preparation for the arrival of mother post-hospital is brilliantly funny.
And part of the charm of this piece is that it is performed by Hugh and his sister Delyth and brother Derwyn, whose character performances are vulnerable, faulted and true. In the end though, Hugh Hughes’ natural talent and endless enthusiasm are not enough and the show fizzles out through Episode 2 and into Episode 3.
Hugh warns the audience from the start that this is “not strictly theatre”. And indeed he is promoted, by himself and producing company Hoipolloi, as an artist. Maybe that’s the excuse for this slightly rambling, obtuse piece of “references around a theme”. The fabulous accompanying website explains that Hugh is not trying to be linear. But it seems to me that it is possible to pack much more story punch – there are some great stories here – without losing the exploratory nature of the piece.
It’s a great concept. We shouldn’t be denied dramatic shape, however, which would help us engage and care.
Cast: Hugh, Delyth and Derwyn Hughes
Artistic Associates – Shon Dale-Jones, Stefanie Mueller, Andrew Pembrooke, Sophie Russell and Dante Rendle Traynor
Produced by Hoipolloi in Association with The Junction, Cambridge. Research and Development supported by the Barbican London and National Theatre Studio
22-24 Oct 7.30pm The Junction Cambridge (J2) 01223 511511 www.junction.co.uk
6-7 Nov Tue 7pm; Wed 7.45pm New Wolsey Theatre Ipwich 01473 295900 www.wolseytheatre.co.uk
12-13 Nov 8pm Wales Millennium Centre Cardiff 029 2063 6464 www.wmc.org.uk
16-17 Nov Brighton Dome 01273 709709 www.brightondome.org
20-24 Nov 7.45pm Drum Theatre Plymouth 01752 267222 www.theatreroyal.com
29 Nov-8 Dec Mon-Sat 7.45pm Barbican Centre (The Pit) London 020 7638 8891 www.barbican.org.uk/bite