Folk music is often known for its depressing lyrics and melancholy tones, so a farcical parody of the genre seems unexpected. Yet it is a pleasant idea that could go down a storm.
Hearts of Folk is a slick and polished piece of theatre.
Hearts of Folk tells the story of a dysfunctional band on a dead-end tour who are carrying a dark secret. With a fantastic combination of engaging performances and a wildly funny script, it doesn't take long for us to warm to this production and soon we are laughing along to every other line we hear.
The cast work together splendidly and prove to be a great comic team. Each character is so different and well formed that the group dynamic really is a joy to see. Edd Riley as the wacky flautist Peter and Megan Conway as the self-obsessed singer Alice are the highlights of the production for me. Riley reminds you of a loveable mad old uncle that has us in stitches with his command over the young busker Theo (played by Thomas Cocker). Similarly, Conway gives a great performance that sees her perfectly parody the stereotype of an infuriating, high-maintenance singer.
The script is very clever in its use of repetitive humour and the recurring joke of "the maid is courted by a boy" is an example of how a recurring gag can be incredibly effective. The more this scenario is referenced, with each reference becoming more ridiculous, the funnier it becomes, leaving the whole crowd in stitches by the end of the performance.
Being a folk fanatic, it would have been nice to see some live music incorporated into the production since the whole show is set on the stage of a live gig. The cast have instruments throughout the show but they are simply props. A little tootle or a strum, even just for comic effect, would have been a pleasant addition to the show. That said, as the show is a farce, there is something ironically comical about seeing actors unsurely handling the instruments their characters play, which does add to the delightful ridiculousness of this production.
Hearts of Folk is a slick and polished piece of theatre but it does have room for improvement. However, if you keep in mind that this is a farcical parody, then the gawky and clumsy elements do have an endearing quality that helps you embrace the ridiculousness of the show. If you like a good dose of silliness and charm, then go and see this gig for yourself.