Nelson Musical Theatre, 95 Atawhai Dr, The Wood, Nelson

21/10/2015 - 22/10/2015

Baycourt X-Space, Tauranga

28/10/2015 - 30/10/2015

Theatre Royal, TSB Showplace, New Plymouth

14/10/2015 - 14/10/2015

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

03/11/2015 - 07/11/2015

BATS Theatre, Wellington

29/09/2015 - 03/10/2015

Tui Brewery, SH2, Mangatainoka, Wairarapa

16/10/2015 - 16/10/2015

Isaac Theatre Royal, The Gloucester Room, Christchurch

19/09/2015 - 20/09/2015

Luggate Memorial Hall, Wanaka

25/09/2015 - 26/09/2015

Nelson Arts Festival 2015

Tauranga Arts Festival 2015

Kokomai Creative Festival

Christchurch Arts Festival 2015

Production Details

In the summer of 1989, in a quiet corner of Glan Gwili Hospital, a farmer’s wife gives birth to a baby girl named Buddug Jones. A story of one woman’s struggle to escape and let go, told through live music, welsh cakes and a ‘twmpath’. 

‘Hiraeth’ is a gem of a Welsh play. Hiraeth (pronounced Here-ath) has no direct English translation. Hireath means longing or homesickness for a place you can never return to. It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, or an earnest desire for the Wales of the past. 

Performed by David Grubb, Buddug James Jones and Max Macintosh, ‘Hiraeth’ is a show about Buddug’s life growing up on a farm and deciding to move to London, and the impact on herself and everyone around her.

With live music and welsh cakes, Hiraeth explores the decline of Welsh tradition and identity through one woman’s struggle to escape and let go. Desperate to leave, Bud wrestles with the knowledge that her departure sounds the death knell for the family farm. Leaving five generations of tradition behind her as she sets out alone into the big smoke…

The New Zealand tour of Hiraeth is co-produced by Show Pony and travels across the country from September – November 2015. The tour is proudly supported by British Council New Zealand, Wales Arts International and National Theatre Wales.

For more information on how to book tickets, go to our tickets page found HERE 





19-20 September 2015

25-26 September 2015

29 Sep-3 October 2015

10 October 2015

14 October 2015

16-18 October 2015

21-22 October 2015

28-30 OCTOBER 2015

3-7 November 2015

Theatre , Musical ,

Feel-good theatre

Review by Dione Joseph 04th Nov 2015

The audacity of the Basement is that it’s a venue where just about anything can happen. Hiraeth is a classic example: a slick, polished and light-hearted coming-of-age story of a young Welsh woman who decides to leave behind the juvenile joys of port-a-loo tipping and cavorting around in potato fields is a little gem.

Loosely translated as nostalgia or a desire for the past, Hiraeth is a well-crafted rambunctious re-telling that occasionally feels like it’s running on steroids. Created by Jesse Briton (who is also the director) Buddug James Jones and Max Mackintosh (both of whom also perform), this highly physical and delightfully irreverent chronicle of what happens when you decide to leave home for the big smoke is guaranteed to become an instant favourite. 

Part of its charm is the trio on stage. James Jones (who confesses she is a stage designer-turned-actor) and Mackintosh (who is brilliant at performing a versatile range of characters) are joined by David Grubb who provides much of the lilting melodies and musical ambience for the piece. 

James Jones is an endearing performer. Her wistful naivety and unflagging determination to leave behind Newcastle Emlyn is admirable, especially considering her parents and the town’s collective scepticism. Even the birds and the local sheep are having their doubts. But James Jones’ one strong hold is her Mam-gu who urges her granddaughter to be a river not a rock, a metaphor that is beautifully extended throughout the piece and climaxes in a fluoro dinghy and effervescent finale. 

Together James Jones, Mackintosh and Grubb deliver a compelling performance but the script does need a little work. It’s wonderful to hear Welsh spoken and sung on an Auckland stage and done with so much genuine joie de vivre. In contrast, however, the scene with the Portuguese boyfriend Carlos (who certainly seems more Spanish than otherwise) sits slightly awkwardly with the other vignettes.

While the story does propel itself along at high-speed, occasionally some of the more poignant moments are glossed over. Similarly, some of the clichés that might add local flavour do little more than suggest the obvious, e.g. that this wee village might be stuck in a time warp.

Hiraeth is an excellent night out for feel-good theatre delivered with every ounce of collective energy from the team. Seth Rook Williams’ lighting design is perfect for the rapid transitions and the music is rich and engaging in all its familiarity and quiet shedding of illusions. This is a special little show.


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We are the river

Review by Lisa Allan 21st Oct 2015

‘Hiraeth’ is a Welsh word that has no direct translation in English. It can be roughly translated as ‘homesickness for a Wales that no longer exists’. I think I experienced hiraeth tonight. Not in relation toWalesbut in relation to another way of life.

The performers are on stage as we enter. As the theatre doors close the actors nod knowingly to one another and they proceed to lay it all bare for us. “I’m not an actor,” Buddug James Jones (creator, performer) tells us and we love her immediately. Her sparky offsider, Max Mackintosh, tells us not to worry, for he has studied the art for three years and will act as a liferaft for Buddug, if she needs some expert help.

The third performer on stage is the humble, perfectly pitched, violin playing wonder, David Grubb. It is only now as I sit down to write that I fully appreciate that the only word he says throughout is “ironic”.

The fourth player is the lighting technician, Tom Ayers, who keeps things on track when they start to wander. And so, after letting us see them as really real people, this tight ensemble of four begin the show. It is the tale of Buddug’s life from Wales to London to Nelson.  

The staging is sparse. The trio use their bodies, a few costume pieces, some chairs and musical accompaniment to create what they need. They vary their tempo when you least expect it and immediately transport us to a new location. Their use of repetition is extensive and perfectly measured for comic effect. This is a very clever device as it subtly invites the audience in as a collaborator. We know what is coming next and next and next in these charming sequences and this makes us feel comfortable and included in the jokes.

The cute jiggling in the car scenes, the karate kicks to open the doors, the naff dance routine, the songs, the embarrassing details they allow us to see, the audience interaction, their reactions to the unexpected, they all draw us further and further into their world. We are all here with them on this journey, they have opened themselves to us and in turn, we allow ourselves to open to their story. 

I am touched deeply by the bravery and honesty of these performers, in particular, Buddug. It is her story, she is the one who reveals herself, she is completely vulnerable though the presentation of this play. This is done with positivity; a lightness of heart that is admirable and a dedication to the truth that makes me cry. The cast members perfectly complement Buddig, providing comic relief and taking us to a very painful place where potato-shaped insults cut to the bone. 

This is theatre at its very best. The hiraeth that I experienced tonight was for a way of life where we all live like this. In truth. As vulnerable and light-hearted beings who inspire others to be this open. They thoroughly deserve their standing ovation.

Thank you to the Buddug James Jones Collective for this inspiring piece of work. We are the river.


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Compelling retelling of old tale

Review by Ewen Coleman 02nd Oct 2015

Known for bringing local madcap shows like Live At Six to the stage, production company Show Pony now have an imported play on tour, from Wales, Hiraeth, that’s just as off the wall as many of their previous productions. 

The show has been created by Jesse Briton, who also directs, and Buddug James Jones and Max Mackintosh who both star in the show along with David Grubb. Mackintosh and Grubb also provide very appropriate music accompaniment throughout. [More]


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A wonderful little play

Review by Pip Harker 01st Oct 2015

This is the sweet, funny, slightly sad, extremely personal true-story of young Welsh woman Buddug James Jones as she takes the huge step of leaving her tiny hometown of Newcastle Emlyn to bravely set out into the big wide world (London) to go to University. Small-town Welsh girl breaks generations of tradition to go to the big-smoke and follow her dreams. That is the story.

As they endearingly admit, there isn’t much of a story and it is a bit “self-indulgent” but the charm of this show is the energetic enthusiasm, commitment and warts-n-all, heart-on-the-sleeve, hilarious way the ‘story’ is told.

Three people grace the set-less stage throughout the show: Buddug; co-creator Max Mackintosh – the ‘actor’ of the show – showing brilliant versatility and comedy genius playing Bud’s relations, boyfriends, community and the guitar; and musician David Grubb who plays fiddle beautifully throughout (and for a heart-stopping few minutes the mandolin) and underplays various almost-silent support roles, giving a master-class in less-is-more acting. What a face.

Buddug’s website announces she is a scenographer, set designer, costume designer and performance artist (and clearly an over-achiever). It’s curious that this show has no set or costumes, as such, but what’s not to love about a performance artist who takes the mickey out of herself completely with an hilarious “that is art!” segment, pulling an audience member up to do their own “art!”.

The first person they try to pull up flatly refuses – oops, always a risk – the second doesn’t have the heart to say no but scoots off stage as soon as she can escape. There is also a singalong moment but by that stage we are all won-over and do as we are encouraged good-naturedly.

Mackintosh plays the very traditional Dad, the slightly precious Mum (with addition of apron and higher voice), and the wise and supportive Mamgee (Grandmother), who provides the recurring theme of “we are all either rocks or rivers, rivers move see….”. He also performs an over-the-top Portugese slime-ball boyfriend of Bud’s, who breaks her naive heart. This particular boyfriend-incident is milked for its hilarity but the revulsion he has for her is just a bit too creepy and it’s brutality slightly uncomfortable. Perhaps it’s not needed.

Throughout the show there is chummy chit-chat and asides to the audience, and to Tom, the tech-man at the back of the hall. Whatever they say to him he calls back “Get on with the show!” The classic repetition technique: it gets funnier each time.

The show-stopper moment for me is the lifeboat scene at the end with all three aboard. Buddug is ‘paddling’ maniacally and ranting about why(?) she’s telling her story, and who cares as she’s having a “helluva good time doing it”. When they take their bows Buddug sincerely and charmingly thanks us for coming and says they have some welsh cakes for us to try!

There is no direct English translation for Hiraeth but in Welsh it means nostalgia or longing. There is certainly a nostalgic feeling to this show underneath all the chaos and slapstick. This is a wonderful little play demonstrating beautifully how much can be achieved simply; three people with talent, passion and a knack for seeing the humour in a situation is enough. Get yourself along to see it while it’s here on tour and make sure you get a biscuit. 


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All go in the flow: a gem of a show

Review by John Smythe 30th Sep 2015

Empathy permeates the BATS Propeller Stage as Hiraeth gets under way. We should have a word for it too, that mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness; that earnest desire for home as it was in the old days (i.e. during one’s childhood); the bond one feels with one’s home country when one is away from it.

‘Hiraeth’ is the Welsh word for it. Kiwis feel it too, especially when we leave home to go flatting, small towns to go to the city, New Zealand to go overseas. Cue ‘Don’t you know it seems to go’ … ‘We don’t know how lucky we are, Trev’ … ‘Poi E’ …

A guitar player (Max Macintosh) and fiddler (David Grubb) are playing mellifluous Welsh music and a young woman (Buddug James Jones) is sketching as we take our seats. The show’s premise is simple: Buddug – who is not an actor but she’s “going to give it a bloody good go” – wants to tell us the story of how she made the break from Newcastle Emlyn, in rural Wales, to study art at university in London.

The way she – and her Mamgee (grandmother) – see it, you’re either a river or a rock. Both need the other to make them what they are but despite being the sixth generation of the James Jones family to grow up in Newcastle Emlyn … Well a river has got, by definition, to go with the flow.

So what is she leaving? Well there’s the wildlife, the potato harvest, the chip run … There’s her boyfriend, exemplified by The Portaloo Incident, nicely contrasted with senior singer-songwriter Meic Mike Stevens (known, wiki tells me, as The Welsh Dylan – and that doesn’t mean Thomas) … And her parents, of course. And Mamgee.

Max Macintosh – who is an actor, using this opportunity to audition world-wide – plays all the other roles with delightful flair. His versatility comes to the fore as he personifies the family and wider community reactions to the gobsmacking news that Bud is going to London. Her Dad’s attempts at emotional blackmail pale in comparison to menopausal Mum and The Gravy Incident.  

It’s thanks to Mamgee’s wise words that Bud still has the courage to cross the Severn Bridge, albeit driven by her Dad with Mum in the back. The moment of aloneness – of nothingness when everything happens; the hiraeth moment – is potently realised then garnished with the ‘I’m On My Own’ song. David, by the way, says nothing but is most eloquent with his fiddle.  

As for Arts as an academic subject … It’s no wonder Bud lets herself get distracted by Portuguese Carlos, who may be a stallion but he’s also … Let’s just say when we in the audience express our feelings towards him he – or Max – is obliged to remind us “this is not panto”. The audience participation moments are well pitched and placed.  

Again it is Mamgee who counsels Bud. And so to East London and the bar where she meets Max – also from Wales. Is this a hiraeth effect, to be drawn to someone from one’s home country when one’s away from it? Not that they become ‘an item’: we are told that more than once. But they do decide to do a show together. And when he’s on the phone trying to book venues, she gets a call from her Dad … We know what it is before we are told. Even a rock can crumble to dust.  

Back briefly to Newcastle Emlyn, with Max and David, The Last Cow incident exemplifies what Bud has turned her back on. They are back on the Severn Bridge in the wind and rain when Bud discovers that “sometimes you need to break down to break out”.   

An inflatable dinghy carries Buddug, her companions and her story through to its tumultuous climax … They are in the river that carries them round the world. It’s all go in the flow. And what brings us back to dry land? Not rock cakes but Welsh cakes.

Hiraeth is a gem of a show that’s winding its way throughout New Zealand in the regional festival season. Let it float your boat if you get the chance.


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Wonderfully chaotic, lovingly rendered, utterly charming: “just right”

Review by Erin Harrington 21st Sep 2015

Buddug James Jones was born into a farming family in West Wales, where the lives of five generations of her extended family are inextricably bound up in the land. Buddug, like an increasing number of young Welsh farmers, wants something more than chasing animals and potato picking (not that there is anything wrong with those things), and to the varied horror and comic disgruntlement of her community she travels to London to find her fortune and / or personal growth, or something like that.

This is an autobiographical story, and Buddug (who outs herself immediately as not-an-actor) draws on the expertise and assistance of Max Mackintosh (definitely an actor). Max’s demonstrative performances of various family members, animals, friends, strangers and lovers is framed, tongue-in-cheek, as an hour-long acting portfolio. They are joined by accomplished musician David Grubb, who rounds out the ever-growing fourth-wall-smashing cast of characters while maintaining a comic, Harpo Marx-like (near) silence.

The show, which was devised by James Jones, Mackintosh, and director Jesse Briton, is high in energy and spirits. It maintains a relentless and cheerfully earnest tone throughout without diverging into twee or saccharine. It’s also bloody funny, as its unapologetically low production values, including a collection of comedic props and costumes, careen into a wide-eyed account of the rest of the world (i.e. big smoke London) via a lovingly rendered presentation of Welsh stereotypes and rural characters.

During a climactic moment, Buddug admits that this is a pretty ‘normal’ story and she doesn’t know why she’s telling it (or why we’re listening), but the success is all in its tone and in the wonderfully chaotic execution. I find the whole thing so much fun and so completely and utterly charming that I’m a bit weepy by the end – the on-stage version of the ‘Pixar effect’.

One of the benefits of attending a Welsh play with a Welshman is that I learn that ‘hiraeth’ means longing (quite literally: hir-, as in long, as in distance), along with a certain sort of deep yearning and nostalgia for an ideal romanticised Wales. (He tells me that this also has the subtext that ‘my homesickness is better than yours’ – although perhaps that’s just something that’s aimed at the English.)

The thing about longing, though, is that you take home with you, even if home is a collection of regrettable woolly jumpers, some toy tractors, and an inflatable raft from Argos.  It’s drizzly outside, the audience is peppered with enthusiastic expats who are delighted to hear some Cymreag, and my theatre-averse Welsh boyfriend says the show is “just right”. He also gives the thumbs up to the Welsh cakes Buddug offers us on the way out the door, which she’s made with her mum’s recipe. Tidy. 


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