Honey is the last of a series of three plays exploring the relationship between the self and other environments. I watched the first part Fishhead back in 2014, and loved it – so I was excited about seeing this follow-up work. Sadly however, I was disappointed.
The play is set in the Welsh mountains, where Anwen (Vey Straker) lives with her husband Robert and with Caron, her grown-up autistic son. Her sister, Celandine – a tattoo artist – is also a frequent visitor. The story revolves around bee hives: the sisters divide their time between sewing a hexagon-themed quilt for Caron, and selling honey at the local market.
There is a step-sister too, played by Jenni Lea Jones, who appears now and again at the market and implies she has the power to see the future. We never quite find out if that's true or not. But what Jones did provide was the most beautiful singing voice, filling the space with a glorious Welsh lilt which I hoped would never stop. The male radio voiceover was a treat too; I could have listened to that for much longer.
Playing Caron, Callan Durrant does a good job convincing us of his severe autism – losing himself in watching the small insects he is so fascinated by. Some of the best moments of the play were when Celandine (Jemma Lewis) began to mirror his movements in an effort to speak his language, and the two fell into a silent, ritualistic, almost dream-like sequence.
But the disappointment for me is that, although the running time is more than ninety minutes, nothing of any real consequence happens. Anwen claims that “the most important thing is that everything is connected”, but the play felt very disjointed to me: the cast frequently talk to invisible characters on stage, while other characters are discussed but never appear.
The whole way through we await the arrival of Robert, the errant husband – but nobody really seemed to know where he'd gone, or why. To be honest, by the end of the play, I didn’t care if he came back or not. I had no investment in him at all. And Celandine’s shock announcement in the last few moments makes no sense whatsoever, as well as adding nothing to the story.
There is obviously an important message that writer-director Tiffany Hosking was hoping to convey, but I'm afraid I just didn't get it – and without that understanding, it all felt far too drawn-out and sometimes rather clumsy. Anwen declares that “Where there’s honey, there’s hope”… but I’m afraid in this instance, I eventually lost hope in the execution of a noble but flawed idea.