We Are Chester’s James Wright heads to Theatr Clwyd in Mold to check out the world premiere of dystopian musical BoHo. Photos by Mark Carline.
Never have I ever been inside the Emlyn Williams Theatre in Flintshire’s Theatr Clwyd, and never have I ever sat down and watched a play that is only one hour in length (they usually run for at least 90 minutes plus interval). I can now check both of those off a weird bucket list thanks to the wonderful team at Theatr Clwyd, the amazing guys and girls at Hijinx Theatre, and our own We Are Chester editor, when I went along to the premiere of BoHo.
Situated in the smaller but infinitely more intimate Emlyn Williams Theatre, myself and dozens more were treated to a truly wonderful performance by some top-notch actors and musicians, including Daniel Lloyd whom my girlfriend still gushes over after seeing his performance of Dick Whittington when she was in year nine.
The cast, kept to a mere three actors on stage plus musical director Barnaby Southgate, hold your attention throughout, whether it be through their otherworldly sense of humour, the context/content of their rhetoric, or even the costuming.
BoHo is the latest production by Hijinx Theatre, who train and coach aspiring, talented actors and actresses with disabilities alongside non-disabled counterparts to produce magical, funny, and ultimately well-received productions, and the first collaboration between them and Theatr Clwyd is no different. Hopefully the two can join forces for more work later on down the line, because more people need to see what these talented men and women can do.
Having next to nothing on what to expect from BoHo, my mind was full of wondrous ideas and expectations – the synopsis tells that David Jones (Daniel Lloyd) is just another cog in the city’s giant wheel, someone who is struggling to come to terms with the world around him and the challenges he faces. Then one untimely mistake forces him out – to BoHo.”
From that, I thought, well, maybe it’ll be a story of trying to find your place in the world and thinking, I know it’s a dystopian musical misadventure, but how is that going to play out?
I need not have worried about such matters, as the narrative played out better than I could have expected to going.
Equal parts Alice In Wonderland, Trainspotting, and A Clockwork Orange, BoHo takes you on a trippy experience that distorts your expectations and tingles your senses, but with laughter and music thrown in for darn good measure.
As I may have previously stated in one of my earlier posts for We Are Chester, I’m not the biggest fan of musicals in the world. However, most of the songs were so catchy that I couldn’t help but enjoy myself. One in particular, Doctor Davey, was so annoyingly catchy that I would actually have it on my phone in a playlist. Damn you Hijinx, it’s still in my head!
That’s a wonderful thing, though, in all honesty. When you realise that these young men and women, including Lucy Green and Kenny Harmon from Hijinx North Academy in Prestatyn, take to the stage and deliver not only awesome performances, but add extra flair to Daniel Lloyd’s performances, then you know you’ve got a good thing going. So, well done Lucy, Kenny and everyone working with Hijinx, you deserve all the applause you get throughout the play’s run and then some.
FaceTiming the boss
I know it sounds like I’m gushing, and perhaps I am, but this was a play right up my street. Like I mentioned before, it felt like the by-product of Lewis Carroll, Irvine Welsh, and Anthony Burgess, if they had set their stories in a world with Apple products, Facebook and Wi-Fi. It captured what a real dystopic world would be like in an era of smartphones and social media, with people treating themselves with medication to dull the pains of modern society, but then takes a trip (possibly, or more likely probably, drug-induced) through a world that feels like a White Rabbit could spring along at any minute as he FaceTimes his boss.
The Theatr Clwyd and Hijinx co-production of BoHo features an original score composed by Hannah Noone and is also directed by her, with film design by Jonathan Dunn. It stars Daniel Lloyd as David Jones, Lucy Green and Kenny Harmon, and music director Barnaby Southgate, who has previously worked in Theatr Clwyd’s 2015 production of Little Shop of Horrors. Tickets are available here, or contact the Box Office on 01352 701521 for £12 (or concessions at £10), but be quick as the tour leaves Theatr Clwyd after Saturday 24th June to move on to a performance Galeri in Caernarfon on Wednesday 28th June – so be sure to catch it whilst you still can.