Tag Archives: Willy Hudson

Welcome Home

Welcome Home


Soho Theatre

WELCOME HOME at the Soho Theatre


Welcome Home

“Hudson’s great success with “Welcome Home” is that it’s spectacular, silly and provocative”


Headlines in the media over the past few days about the Church of England and its debate over same sex marriage and relationships mean Willy Hudson’s brave and absorbing new solo show could hardly be more timely.

“Welcome Home” is from one perspective a mad rant about religion and an institution that has so frequently heaped shame on queer life, an attempt to heal (or escape from) a past of hurt.

But an autobiographical and uncomfortable show just mouthing off on the subject would become little more than a heavy soapbox speech or ill-informed Twitter comment.

And in fact when the energetic and often chaotic show is stripped down it is not ultimately as negative as you may be expecting. There’s a sense that if we actually bothered to listen to each other and attempt to understand rather than judge (a truth for all sides) then we may just be able to build a better present and future.

The springboard to the memoir is Hudson’s break-up with the boyfriend we were introduced to in “Bottom” and returning home to live with his parents, which leads to a plethora of thoughts about his upbringing, his local church and Robbie Williams.

Hudson’s great success with “Welcome Home” is that it’s spectacular, silly and provocative, using sci-fi, music, and humour to address break-up of relationships, break-up with the past, break-up with unyielding establishment – and putting yourself back together as a result.

“This is the making of me” he proclaims at the start and what results after 80 frantic minutes is a deeply personal tale of honesty and discovery on what for many will be a shared journey – even if the destination isn’t the same for all.

As both writer and performer Hudson could be in danger of becoming manically inward-looking as he seeks to demolish childhood nightmares and establishment edifices but director Zach James keeps him the right side of demonic.

If Hudson’s last show, “Bottom,” was revealing and buttock-clenching and performed more in a cabaret style, this is altogether more theatrically entertaining, determined and heart-wrenching. “Welcome Home” is certainly more a narrative of dark nightmare revenge than its predecessor’s pink fluffiness with a whiff of leather.

There’s as much here for the geeky as the cheeky: Doctor Who’s weeping angels stand like sentinels threatening to send the performer back in time if he fails to learn important lessons, while “Star Wars” references lead to an unexpected and heart-warming finale.

Anna Orton’s set and costume design add elements of nerdy kitsch and it’s clear that a lot of people have contributed to the success of this solo work. It is terrific to see the large company listed on the programme, a bunch of creatives given the chance to develop queer, neurodivergent and working class productions.

A review always runs the risk of becoming purely academic assessment so it must be stressed that Hudson aims to raise laughs as much as raising important questions. For all the moments of nervous seat-shuffling there are plenty of slices of mad comedy.

Hard-hitting with dashes of discomfort sitting alongside the comic, “Welcome Home” is likely to mirror the experiences of many who want to rage against a religious and all too often uncaring machine, but Hudson succeeds in giving his story and performance a heart and a hope.


Reviewed on 30th January 2023

by David Guest

Photography by Harry Elletson



Previously reviewed at this venue:


An Evening Without Kate Bush | ★★★★ | February 2022
Y’Mam | ★★★★ | May 2022
Hungry | ★★★★★ | July 2022
Oh Mother | ★★★★ | July 2022
Super High Resolution | ★★★ | November 2022
We Were Promised Honey! | ★★★★ | November 2022
Le Gateau Chocolat: A Night at the Musicals | ★★★★ | January 2023


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The Noble Nine

The Noble Nine

VAULT Festival

The Noble Nine

The Noble Nine

The Vaults

Reviewed – 30th January 2019



“has a slow start but gets stronger throughout to pack an unexpected and gripping finish”


Estelle West, illustrious author of The Noble Nine novel series, is on her death bed. West’s eight estranged grandchildren (a loyal hamster completes the nine) reunite and reminisce over their childhood adventures when they were the inspiration for dear Noona’s tales. Idyllic memories of simpler days spent picnicking and watching the otters frolic expose bitterness and tension towards tomboy Bammie (Claudia Grant) who is now engaged to Hank and a functioning adult. With Estelle’s shock reveal that their inheritance is hidden as gold in the family mansion, the grandchildren visit the remote island where they spent their childhood for one last caper. But will it ever feel the same again? Dark secrets of the past are unearthed, unleashing a bloodthirsty brawl to haunting chants of ‘leave it to the nine’.

In the damp warren of tunnels below Waterloo station Toby Vaughan as a wide-eyed presenter comically totters into the cavern to set the scene. Vaughan succeeds in captivating the audience in all his roles, later appearing as perishing Estelle and as an overbearing estate agent. Whimsical Winnie (Ella Bruccoleri) and Oldest Arthur (Ryan Dooey) are memorable as the trailblazers of the group, bringing a psychotic twist to our Edith Blyton childhood fantasies. This is offset by Bookish Hen, the reluctant cousin, physicalised nicely by Willy Hudson. Jennifer Leong, Dipo Ola and Claudia Grant complete a strong cast.

Performing in a damp-smelling subterranean space is in some ways an atmospheric backdrop well-suited to this adventure. Theatre Tewl capitalise on the long stretch of space between the audience as the nine hunt around the manor for treasure. Lighting is used playfully, and the lack of set design seems fitting. Unfortunately, dialogue is often lost due to inevitable background noise and the feat of staging scenes to be visible to all. Nonetheless the abundance of witty jokes is well-received.

Polina Kalinina’s direction and Matt Parvin’s writing have strong potential but need fine tuning to ensure the completeness and consistency of this spoof. The piece has a slow start but gets stronger throughout to pack an unexpected and gripping finish. The overarching plot which sees relationships unravel and depicts a desperate need for the out of touch troupe to save the day is at points sensational. Particularly hilarious touches included Oldest Arthur’s recurring preoccupation with German spies and Romantic Gregory’s struggle to revive his poetic skills.

This is a promising debut play from Theatre Tewl with strong foundations for a thrilling and unmissable dark comedy.


Reviewed by Beth Partington

Photography courtesy Theatre Tewl


Vault Festival 2019

The Noble Nine

Part of VAULT Festival 2019




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