The Greenhouse Theatre, the UK’s first zero waste venue which first made its debut at 2019’s Edinburgh Fringe, is enjoying a summer season in London’s Canary Wharf with three productions playing in rep. The family friendly offering of the trio is Harry Server’s Hjem, a delightful two-hander which is confidently delivered.
Hjem could best be described as a modern-day folk story exploring how stories transcend from one generation to the next, and how they can link, or even be influenced by, our natural surroundings.
In present day Blythe, young Orla writes a letter to a Norwegian fisherman, her grandmothers health is in decline, but the old lady talks frequently about this man from her past, and a mixture of curiosity, and wanting to improve her grandmother’s final days leads Orla to Erik.
Throughout the play we drift back and forth time; from Erik’s first encounter with this English family, to his current position as a recent widower, forging a new future in the centre of Oslo. On occasion it becomes a little difficult to keep track of where we are, but generally the various parts of the story come together nicely.
It’s a beautifully told story that is charming and often heart-warming, but hints at a more complex plot that could perhaps be explored if the play were ever to be developed further. The inclusion of traditional folk songs helps to tie the story together, but will also appeal to younger audience members who will perhaps need more than just straightforward storytelling.
There are well rounded performances from Lysa-Marie Asiedu-Yeboa as Orla and Philip Jones as Erik, and Harry Server’s direction makes good use of the intimate and unusual space in which Hjem is performed. The simple staging is testament to The Greenhouse’s commitment to being zero waste, with just two wooden crates and scrap paper used to great effect.
Hjem is an enjoyable hour of entertainment which is suitable for the entire family. The cast actively engage with their audience, making it feel even more inclusive in this special, and sustainable, theatre venue.
Hjem is one of three productions currently being staged at The Greenhouse Theatre, which is at Canary Wharf until 15th August 2021.