Review: Folk, Watford Palace Theatre

“Sing me something holy, something wholly inappropriate”

One day, Tom Wells will start writing about something other than misfits in the East Riding of Yorkshire but until he does, we’re still being blessed with minor-key gems like Folk (after Jumpers for Goalposts, The Kitchen Sink, and Me, As A Penguin), reaching the end of its tour here in this co-production between Birmingham Repertory Theatre , Hull Truck Theatre and Watford Palace Theatre.

From the front room of her Withernsea home, Irish nun Winnie has been subtly changing the world for those around her. Her sweary, spoon-playing ways have long been complemented by Stephen, a mournful musical middle-aged man who counts her as his only friend and when the teenage Kayleigh comes crashing into their lives, it is music that proves the force that slowly bonds them together.

There isn’t too much more story than that to be honest but with Wells, that really doesn’t matter a great deal. The pleasure in his writing comes in its subtleties and observational humour rather than great dramatic swoops, and as we come to know this trio better, discovering what the folk music that connects them actually represents to them personally, Folk builds into something most affecting.

Tessa Walker’s direction steers a delicate course through the gentle swells of the play, Bob Bailey’s set design is full of lovely Catholic-overkill details, and Connie Walker, Patrick Bridgman and Chloe Harris offer up some beautifully judged performances, particularly Walker’s Guinness-drinking sister.

Running time: 90 minutes (without interval)
Booking until 28th May

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