Hereford Times: A small tale lyrically told with a big message

Honey No TextFAMILIES are complicated things. So are communities. But, as Tiffany Hosking's new work, Honey, aims to show us, we need them both.

At the heart of the drama is a story of family - family fragmented, family struggling, and finally family creating and rebuilding the connections essential to support them.

Bee-keeper Anwen (Tiffany Hosking) wakes to find that her husband Robert, a bomb disposal expert in the army, has gone, leaving her with their autistic son Caron (Alex Radu) and a determination to create a quilt before Robert comes back. Her sister Celandine (Michelle Moore), named for the flowers carpeting the fields when she was born, takes time out from her tattoo studio and her search for a man of her own to offer not-always-welcome support and becomes involved in the making of the quilt: "I'm good with a needle," she says, as she joins Anwen to first tack and then whip-stitch together the hexagons of fabric in vibrant honeyed shades of yellow.

Like all families, this one has its own secrets and a trip to the local market to sell the honey reveals the thorn in Anwen's side as we meet the sister's half-sibling, born to their father as the result of a fling. Anwen will not hear her name mentioned nor allow Celandine to use the word sister, but when Caron goes missing and a link more powerful than blood is revealed, healing proves possible.

Tiffany Hosking tells an atmospheric story of life in a small community, a story written, as the drama's subtitle - a new play about interconnectedness - explains, to show us that lives are never lived in isolation and that family and community create inescapable bonds. Bees, she tells us without hammering the point home, have got the knack of community exactly right and we could do worse than learn from them about the mutual need for support, a fact subtly underlined by the honeycombed quilt and an inventive set comprising three flexible hives.

This is a small tale, lyrically told and beautifully performed, with a big message.

There is another chance to see Honey at Malvern Cube on Friday, July 8 at 8pm. To book, visit www.malverncube.com

Remote Goat: Sweetness and sourness blended together

Ben Macnair

Honey, a brand new play, of which I saw the fifth performance, is an original piece devised by Reaction Theatre Makers, and it is a fine invention, which takes in serious, modern concerns, but also rhapsodises about the importance of nature, of family, and living life to the full.

The stage is unusual, in that it is three Beehives, that develop and change as the play develops, with the many characters forming a family of sorts, living a life in the Welsh Hills. The careful, sympathetic lighting by Hansjborg Schmidt adds a sense of wide expanse, but also of claustrophobia, whilst the original musical score, provided by both modern technology, and live musicians lifts the play far above the mundane. Although many familiar tropes are used, such as an alcoholic mother, an absentee soldier father, and an austic child, the ingredients are blended in such a way that it is the characters and dialogue, rather than the expected cliches that stand out in this production. The blend of pathos, tragedy, and comedy was realistic, whilst the acting was of a uniformly high standard.

A Tattoo artist for a sister, and other family members also add to the story line, and whilst the play is only relatively short, it covers a lot of ground, in both character development, and sharing information with the audience, in a way that is entertaining.