The beauty of theatre is that you won’t know for certain the emotions it will evoke until after the performance, or even the next day once the dust has settled you have another view point which you couldn’t see straight away. HIR is not an exception to this rule, I wish I could begin to explain the feelings you will feel throughout this performance but that wouldn’t be fair, you need to experience it for yourself.

I usually make a very conscious effort to research performances before I go to see them, so that I have an inkling of what to expect to some degree, but nothing could prepare me for my trip to Bush Theatre last Tuesday.

If attending theatre is not on your list of things to do this summer then you clearly need a new list. The architecture and design of Bush Theatre alone will make you want to watch a production. With an incredible terrace view that was perfect for the 30degree weather I was enjoying, the layout and design of the theatre eased my mind into what was to come.

Within no time I surprised myself with how easily and quickly I began to connect with the characters. They felt relatable even though our worlds were so different; this is partly down to the clever way Taylor Mac had written it or Nadia Fall’s great skills as a Director. Either way, the performance begins light hearted (to some extent) although I quickly began to question why people in the world would treat others in such an unusual and unconventional way. There’s no doubt a HIR touch upon several sensitive topics but again the language, directions and even the scenarios within this performance allow humour to disguise what others may find as uncomfortable.

Some questions you should consider asking yourself before you watch HIR:

Q1) How much effort/energy would you put into embarrassing/humiliating your partner?

Q2) Why would you do such and how long would you like to see them humiliated for?

Q3) How much does family and identity mean to you?

The cast each represents different characteristics and values within 2017 society. We’re first introduced to Paige (Ashley McGuire) who upon first meeting is the typical American ‘mom’ living the typical ‘American dream’ with her husband, daughter and son, “on paper”. Paige has many layer to her which we soon begin to discover, but first we’re introduced the Mother Paige, who is looking forward to welcoming her eldest some back home from serving in the marines. It’s like when you return home from university and you’re family have made a big fuss of you, but unknown to Isaac (Arhur Davill) the changes he will uncover will come to impact the relationship not only between him and his Mother, but almost all family members. No matter how strong Isaac may think he was for his role in the marines, his family are surely on hand to test his mental and emotional strengthen further than he could imagine.

Andy Williams’ plays Arnold, who compels the performance of a someone coping with the aftermath of having a stroke. Yet we as audience members are not encouraged to feel sympathy for Arnie, or are we? I wanted to sympathise with Arnie so much but then I had already invested into Paige so early on within the performance and her story that I felt like I was becoming disloyal, similar to Paige’s youngest child Max (Griffyn Gilligan) who in some ways can been deemed as the brainchild of the family (especially in the eyes of Paige).

Max will make you question your vocabulary, diction, stance and even your own gender beliefs. HIR does not shy away from 2017 political opinions and truths and is an inclusive piece of theatre that is relatable no matter what background you are from. Don’t just take my word for it, test your emotions (and find out what HIR really means) by booking tickets to the Bush Theatre!

HIR runs at Bush Theatre until 22 July 2017, click here to see What’s on.

All images copyright Ellie Kurttz, courtesy Bush Theatre

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