Welcome Home ★★★★ Soho Theatre | Jan 26 - Feb 11, 2023

First, Willy had the stress of coming out to his Christian charismatic family, and now he has to deal with the challenge of moving home after a breakup with his boyfriend! This autobiographical show written by, and starring, Willy Hudson is as much performance art as it is traditional theatre. It includes an improvisational quality that doesn't always work, and there are sequences of sing-along and some offbeat audience participation. The show also has lots of pop culture references that clearly resonated with the audience on the night we attended, as did Hudson's renditions of Robbie Williams' songs. It's all a mishmash of elements that surprisingly does come together and does form a coherent whole. Two factors that contribute to this success, and distinguish the piece from some currently popular one-person-does-it-all trauma turns, is the show's sense of irony and the nuanced presentation of Willy's victimhood. While the church and its strictures may have induced a soul-destroying shame, making them Willy's enemy, he recognises the love that does exist in his particular family and he has some perspective on his own behaviours. Ultimately, Welcome Home proves to be an amusing and thought-provoking soliloquy, and the surprising conclusion to Willy's journey brings an unexpected resonance to the show's title.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Harry Elletson.

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