herald

Thursday 19 October 2017

Review: Story Of A Rabbit

Smock Alley Studio

HUGH Hughes holds up a piece of floorboard and invites us to enthuse over the fact that, despite its solid appearance, at an atomic level much of it is empty space. Likewise, Hughes' one-man show -- aided by strong and silent musician and handy-man Dafydd Williams -- is mostly empty space but its seemingly disparate flakes cohere into a substantial and beguiling theatrical piece.

The various disparate objects scattered around the studio -- a plastic bag of sawdust, an Action Man in a glass case, a car wheel, a model of the house he lived in on a Welsh street -- are all physical fragments of memory that constitute the narrative of his story of the rabbit, dovetailed with the story of his father's death. It's a carefully planned show, first performed three years ago, but feels freshly improvised. Mostly because, Hughes lets the thing breathe. It's half an hour before he even begins to tell the story.

Before this he makes tea for one lucky audience member, compares the different entry styles of two latecomers to the performance, flashes up quotes from Einstein, Wittgenstein and Bunuel, and talks us through the thinking behind the show.

Though more ordinary emotions aren't neglected. Hughes' description of arriving at Bangor railway station to meet his mother and brother for his father's funeral, is heartfelt and moving in its simplicity.

This charming Welsh artist has a unique way of subtly holding an audience. And of conducting a gentle, liberating massage on the imagination.

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