Review: The Honeyman



photo: Robert Day

There’s nothing like a warm play, a thoughtful studio piece, to get you through mid-winter, writes Richard Lutz.

The Honeyman, written by and starring Tyrone Huggins, is about a retiring man from Nevis who lives on the edge of one of those half-forgotten country estates nestling in the soft English countryside.

There, in a derelict cottage, he cares for his bees and his buzzing queens, Elizabeth, named after the queen, and Miranda named after that innocent girl from The Tempest.

Into his small reclusive life stumbles the squire’s feckless teenaged daughter Misty to upend his world, help him and infuriate him.

They both learn from their clashes that different people from different worlds not only collide but can get along – age, race, social class, worldviews can create trust and friendships. And also an awareness of strange linkages from the past.

Tyrone Huggins, who’s from Birmingham, re-creates the play he launched in 2012 playing the likeable eponymous Honeyman (“It’s my inwards name,” he proclaims) while Beatrice Allen, in her first professional role and trained in the city, is the egocentric but ultimately thoughtful dope-smoking teen (a quirky Miranda with a spliff in her mouth) from the squirarchy who has one or two things to learn about bees, friendship, loss and adulthood.

Besides solid performances in this two hander, there is startling good design by Timothy Bird that uses overhead projections, animation and photographs to highlight the two worlds this pair inhabit- and even used to inhabit in former lives. And there is good use too of an old cupboard, which Narnia-like, is used to enter and leave the world of both the rarified manor house and The Honeyman’s derelict cottage.

Birmingham Rep until 21st February.