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Welcome Home

by on 29 January 2023


Welcome Home

by Willy Hudson

Daisy Hale at the Soho Theatre until 11th February

Review by Denis Valentine

So writing a review with the last words of the shows lead in mind and the knowledge that anyone giving too much away of will result him finding them and biting a certain appendage off, it is time to talk about Welcome Home.

The show opens the audience up to the life and times of its lead Willy Hudson and is an autobiographical tale that leads almost up to the literal moment of his stepping on stage.  It becomes very apparent from the opening moments that the show is very much crafted in its lead’s image and the audience will be getting not only a piece of theatre but also a bit of a rock concert at the same time. 

Director Zach James allows the show and the lead to have a very raw openness and it makes it very clear that you are getting Hudson’s honest take on his life and certain events in it. 

Within its eighty minute-ish runtime, the show explores themes on coming of age as a young homosexual man against a strong religious community and the homophobia, sexual shame and realisation it brings.  There are certain moments depicted whether it be from Hudson himself or the on-set video screens that may not be to everyone’s taste, but that is in keeping with one of the main points the show is trying to make – what one person finds offensive, another will find liberating.     

Hudson does well in taking certain moments and injecting them with his big sense of humour, but then hitting with an undercurrent of something much deeper than what he says.  Sometimes, through simple repetition a line as simple as saying ‘disgusting’ draws a laugh, but by the third time in a row he says it, the actual implication and complication to the point he’s making comes through. 

It is a credit to both the style of direction and the performer that in exploring the idea of everyone’s imperfect nature, it is extremely hard to tell when a slight mishap happens on stage, whether it is a mistake or a ‘mistake’ in the proceedings – would have to see the show twice to know if things such as the glitter from the ceiling was genuinely late on arrival or if that was just part of the show.   

The set and costume is designed brilliantly by Anna Orton and matches up well with the frenetic energy of its performer.   Much kudos is due to the whole design team involved.  Jai Morjaria (lighting) Susanne Dietz (video design) and Tom Foskett-Barnes (sound) are all brilliant throughout, add great accompaniment and have some very spectacular set pieces between them, a particular highlight being an excellent spotlight horror sequence. 

Welcome Home is ultimately an eclectic mix of storytelling elements and performance on stage and however one feels about the end result, it is undoubtedly a performer’s genuine expression and note to their own life and experiences.

Denis Valentine, January 2023

Photography by Harry Elletson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

From → Gigs, Soho Theatre

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