We Were Promised Honey!

Who is making theatre like YESYESNONO? The Manchester-based company is back with an immersive, story-telling experience. Enter: We Were Promised Honey! A delight to listen to, Sam Ward’s bittersweet words candy a morbid tale of climate disaster, mental health and apocalypse with a strange and unfettered hope.

His cadence and lyrical script almost scripture-like

The narrative style is far from traditional with tangents and time-travel that stretch our round theatre to encircle a near-cosmic scale. But the true-story we cannot escape is that of Richard Russell: a man who stole an air-plane at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in 2018, completed a series of highly technical stunts, and had never taken a flying lesson. As Sam Ward reminds us time and time again, Russell’s story – like ours – doesn’t end how we’d hope, and the performance is all the more poignant for this reminder.

With shaved head and all-white attire, Ward cuts a striking figure. Our story-teller resembles a prophet of the future, his cadence and lyrical script almost scripture-like in its depth.

You can feel Ward’s gravitational pull as a performer when moments of audience interaction fulfil his ethos of democratic story-telling. This is, as he tells us, “the show that we’re about to do.” He asks us to take a breath, to raise our hands and give our consent to start the story. In these moments, the collective energy is palpable. It speaks to the writing’s central message of universal birth and death, and the sharedness of story-telling.

Less successful are the suggestions Ward takes from the audience. At times gratuitous, we’re never convinced that a different suggestion would meaningfully change the experience, and Ward reverts to the role of the more traditional master-storyteller.

I could watch We Were Promised Honey! with my eyes closed: it’s simple and breath-taking, but I want more time with its words. Long lists sometimes merge into incoherence and we are overwhelmed by the magnitude of the story. Even so, the atmosphere is exhilarating. Lucky for me, the script is being published this month. But while you’re here, We Were Promised Honey! is well-worth a taste.

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Reviews by Daniel Pereira

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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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The Blurb

Maybe after this we’ll occupy the theatre. Maybe in one hundred years it’ll be swallowed by the sea. Maybe we’ll all meet here again. Maybe everything will go to shit. From the makers of Five Encounters on a Site Called Craigslist and The Accident Did Not Take Place comes an act of communal storytelling. A hopeful, hopeless prophecy for earth and humankind. A story of us, our future, of paradise and how we get there in the end. ‘YESYESNONO make shows that feel completely different to anybody else’ (Exeunt). Total Theatre Award Winner 2017.

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