★★★★ | The Honey Man, The Birmingham Rep
Sweet, Charming and Sincere.
The Honey Man, written and acted by the extremely talented Tyrone Huggins and elegantly directed by Emma Bernard, delights the Birmingham Rep Door with an evening of sweetness, surprise and wonder, as we see the Honey Man captivating the soul of the young character Misty. The audience are quickly gripped too.
The Honey Man tells the story of two very different backgrounds: the wealthy and white high class via a teenage girl who is seen constantly battling with boredom, yet she appears to trying anything she can to get away from working; and the segregated and left to rot class represented by a West Indian gentleman whose past time and lifelong dedication is looking after bees.
The drama revolves around the mystery of the Honey Man’s bees’ deaths, and the incessant preoccupation of finding the solution to the problem. Misty spills into Honey Man’s home when he happens to open the door to visit his allotment, much to her surprise, for she thought that the overgrown cottage that he lived in was uninhabited, and the ideal place to smoke cannabis away from the Concorde Manner, which was her home. They have conflictive dialogue at the start, but the enigma of the Honey Man flirts with curiosity of this young girl. She is so enthralled that she promises to help him find a cure, which happens to be living in her dad’s gardens.
Two very special moments live in my memory from this theatre performance. The first being the Honey Man showing Misty how bees dance and he does this with the sweetness that a granddad might have when playing with his young granddaughter. He creates bee sounds and physicalises movements that show bees moving about the hive which enchant her. Misty misses her grandmother very much, so it seems that she sees Honey Man as a replacement for the relationship she had worshipped with her grandmother. By the end, they establish a special and unique bond.
Tyrone Huggins masterminds contemporary writing with exalting a current issue that is affecting the planet today: the deforestation of lands and the fragmentation of wild habitats, both of which are ruining a lot of animals’ lives, particularly bees, who cannot pollinate and ensure the growth of plants. Huggins gave the audience a secret pleasure, for he played The Honey Man himself. The accuracy of emotion and the intricacy of character portrayal don Huggins a heavy-weight champion of contemporary drama, as he creates two parallel worlds that are crying for help, and when they meet they seem to be each other’s salvation.
The Birmingham Rep graces us with an actress whose professional debut is The Honey Man. Beatrice Allen commands the stage most delicately, but with a hint of rawness to it too. Allen’s portrayal of Misty is both engrossing and overwhelming, and even though she may lack experience, this does not show on stage, as she matches Huggins’ ingenuity pretty convincingly.