The powerful biracial and bilingual coming of age play told the tale of Jay and Hefin, brothers brought up in very different worlds and facing very different circumstances in their lives as a result of their separation. Inspired in part by writer Alun Saunders own experience of adopting two children, A Good Clean Heart explored the reality of birth siblings adopted and fostered separately and how that separation ultimately leads to completely different cultural identities.
We meet Hefin on his road to discovery; he is faced with the news that he has a brother who has been continually writing to him over the years and would like to make contact. This discovery leads to a breakdown with Hefin’s family and accepting Jay’s facebook request leading to their reconnection.
The use of social media bridging the gap and creating a safe haven to begin communicating worked really well showing the heavy reliance we now place on social connections online and created an accurate portrayal of how the majority of us communicate no matter the importance of the occasion.
The design of the show and the interactive elements primarily worked however there were a few occasions where the text and actors faces got lost through the AV displays covering them. At times the Welsh and English narrative by Jay and Hefin moved at such a ferocious speed it was hard to keep up but nonetheless the entwining journeys were captivating enough to keep enthralled in.
It was great to see a biracial and bilingual story told in Wales and be representative of the merging cultures, races and languages we live among and was a positive aspect of the show in light of the reality of the UK political climate.
I laughed out loud when the singstar karaoke began but it created a very natural and authentic exchange between the two characters when Hefin rapped Dizzy Rascals ‘Bonkers’ in Welsh and Jay in English but their connection and brotherly spark was evident despite their differing cultural identities.
I enjoyed the perfectly placed choreography and synchronicity of Jay and Hefin telling their stories, actors James Ifan and Oliver Wellington created the electric magic of two brothers yearning for a sense of true belonging and family with an energy and authenticity that was at times mesmerizing.
Heart and soul are essentially the crux of this story and the exploration of the emotional brotherly bond that remains unaffected and still felt despite the differing culture, language, social upbringing aspects of their lives.
This story has the ability to keep reaching new audiences as it begs the question ‘what does family mean to you?’ For Jay and Hefin time, language, different cultures didn’t mean their family bond would be any less strong as the feeling of belonging and actually wanting to be brothers only strengthened that connection; evident right from the very beginning showing that family meant so much more than just blood.
A Good Clean Heart is running until October 22nd at WMC.