Edinburgh Fringe 2020
The new show from composer David Kent and singer Dereck Walker of The Uglies ventures into storyland with a supernatural twist, accompanied by violin and guitar.
Hollow is a new production from the artistic team of writer/composer David Kent and long-time collaborator vocalist/actor Dereck Walker. They have previously staged highly-rated shows as The Uglies.
Walker plays a traveller who returns home to find something that is missing from his life. He reflects on his history by recounting the story of a 14-year-old lad who dreamed of escaping his father’s farm to make his way in the world. The boy always wanted to better himself, set his sights higher, and achieve what he considered to be success. But with each goal reached, he felt unfulfilled. The show title is derived from the boy’s journey where he kept looking for something through his travels, but everything he gained turned out to be simply “hollow”.
Walker effectively recounts the heart-wrenching tale of Jørgen, a young boy who meets a beautiful forest spirit, or huldra. According to Nordic folklore, once a huldra seduces a man, he is never seen again. She is very enchanting and he falls under her spell. Every morning for 100 days he climbs the mountain looking for her but to no avail. Can Jørgen become one of the few who escape her clutches?
This story is like a fable. We can relate to discovering that special person. Walker wistfully sings about finding his new love and their future together. There are moments that send shivers. “It’s clear love needs to be all in” he pleads in song . Jørgen wants to make the relationship work but he isn’t ready to commit. What inspires or motivates us to take a leap of faith and follow our passion? How are we haunted by what we leave behind and the decisions we make? “Sometimes life has to come full circle until we reach a happy ending” Walker tells us.
The story is enhanced with memorable songs, beautiful, and very well performed. The simple accompaniment of violin and guitar are enough to support the vocals. The violin lines are at times haunting and always tasteful.
The team that delivers this production is very strong. The very talented violinist Jeremy Williams is from the York Trio and Beethoven String Trio of London. He has been featured on the BBC and toured to major festivals worldwide. Williams is a busy session musician for movies and star-power singers. Walker is a veteran of dramatic productions as well as pantos. He performs the dialogue and music with the effectiveness of a West End or Broadway lead, with strong dramatic skills and a soaring voice that beautifully delivers the evocative score. Session musician Peter Ware handled the production and recording. Kent has written several musicals. I can envisage him reworking “Hollow” into a full-length production with a larger cast. The music and story are strong enough to carry a bigger show. The writing is very poetic, with highly descriptive phrases that put us right in the heart of the story.
The entire 20-minute show is performed from Walker’s living room or cabin, as he sits in a chair. The show would have been more compelling and entertaining had Walker been standing and acting out the roles. What kept me engaged was the wonderful music. This is an album I would buy and recommend to friends.