Edinburgh Fringe 2014
The show is a winner of the IdeasTap Underbelly Award 2014.
Hiraeth is a Welsh word with no direct English translation; it is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness and desire – a pride you feel for your roots and a sadness for the loss of a way of life. It follows Buddeg’s (pronounced Butheg’s) story, as she makes the decision to leave her family farm in the west of Wales, where she and her sister are the future with five generations of farmers behind them. Eventually she makes it to London only to find that life in another country is quite tough and she makes a fair few mistakes before beginning to find her feet in a strange new world with the help of friend Max.
The story is told by the writer and performer, Buddeg James Jones (Bud), assisted by Max Macintosh who plays every other character in her life story and contributes the music.
Despite Bud’s initial announcement that she is not an actor (Max is) she is confident and assured on stage. Max Macintosh makes swift changes in character using the minimum of props and costume and provides an energetic backdrop to Bud’s more reflective approach. Both performers are engaging and versatile. Overall it is a pacey, energetic production with an air of the comic book; one that does not take itself too seriously as toy tractors, inflatable dinghies and a variety of aprons fly by us.
Parts of the show are in Welsh – either translated by Max or with the sense made clear by its use so the description of part of a walk in English makes sense of the previous part that we heard in Welsh. The result is that Welsh feels to be a natural part of the show rather than grafted on because it is the story of a Welsh girl.
It is quirky and disarming; however, the life events are rather predictable and there isn’t much dramatic tension, we sort of know what she is going to face before she faces it. To have delved a little more deeply into what that longing to leave Wales meant for both Buddeg and her family might give us more to think about in terms of our own contemporary experience of social change.
Overall it is enjoyable, warm and funny. As we left we were offered the best Welsh cakes I have ever encountered, and being part Welsh I have encountered quite a lot of Welsh cakes!