The Honey Man, written by and starring Tyrone Huggins, manages to bring together the elements of British Caribbean history and British aristocracy. This is a unique play about two completely opposite people developing a friendship – a tale of old teaching young, and young exciting old. The writer (Huggins) designed this play to be part of a series of ‘digital plays’ about how the digital world is affecting the way we live. He portrays this through an old man who lives remotely without electricity, in contrast to a young girl who’s dependent upon the buzz of her phone.
The production design is high-level. A phenomenal sound design by Joseph Roberts literally mixes old soulful jazz with young contemporary beats, and the soundtrack of the play particularly enhances the theme of mixing generations. At the same time, designer Timothy Bird frames the play artfully by literally bordering the space with an antique frame and landscape projections. Every element is considered, including the detailed and intellectual costumes that link cleverly to the landscape painting projections.
The highlight is Huggins’s monologues, which remind me of soliloquies from Shakespeare, and in particular of The Tempest. They are beautifully descriptive and Huggins delivers them in a way that conjures up the need for him to speak, helping to create his endearing personality. His character keeps bees, which are vital to the world’s natural order (pollinating the flowers) yet are dying out; the play draws on these forces of nature and even names the worker bees Miranda, in reference to The Tempest.
Initially I was annoyed by the teenage character Misty, played by Beatrice Allen. Misty at first comes across as a constantly angry and quite stereotypical stroppy teenager, with only one level to her. However, as the story reveals, she gradually breaks through with a deep frustration hidden beneath, and a kindness within the character.
The Honey Man ask the question: “how much do we really know about our history and why, in our digital world, do we not have time to remember?” It is refreshing to see such a contrast of generations on stage together and to see how they manage to heal each other’s wounds. The Honey Man is backed by a wonderful creative team and uses its beautiful projections to show how people can literally fade out of history. Nevertheless, even in our digital world, our ancient history is embedded within us and The Honey Man reminds us of this.
The Honey Man played at The Albany from 3-4 March 2015. For more information, see The Albany website.