Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Review: WELCOME HOME, Soho Theatre

Review: WELCOME HOME, Soho Theatre

Willy Hudson's queer revenge takes the Soho main stage

Review: WELCOME HOME, Soho Theatre Willy Hudson's Welcome Home is described on the tickets website as a "queer sci-fi epic" - and epic it truly is, in every sense of the word. In a neon green fever dream of a one man show, Hudson tackles gay coming of age and religious shame, all while creating a rock concert meets gay club atmosphere on the Soho Theatre main stage.

This is Hudson's second show at the venue - his first, Bottom, was altogether a much more low-stakes affair, tackling love and connection in London gay life. Critics said it was "sweet" but lacked depth and a strong, distinctive narrative. His new production couldn't be further from this: Welcome Home is far more sour than sweet, and has constructed its seemingly straightforward autobiographical narrative into a sci-fi quest like no other.

The story begins with Willy's breakup from a four-year relationship: finding himself with nowhere to go in London, his only option is to return to his parents' house. This unwanted step backwards triggers memories of figuring out his sexuality thanks to Robbie Williams music videos... as well as of a fateful church service where the vicar spoke about "saving" a lesbian.

We also get a look into Hudson's family life growing up: his description of his family taking their usual places in the living room for the latest episode of Doctor Who will surely be familiar to British audience members of almost any age. References to the likes of Woolworths, the one family computer, and the smell of school halls add to the nostalgia: while this is a very personal story, it's also in many ways a universal one.

Hudson is a winning storyteller, oozing charm and confidence without coming across as obnoxious. His musical numbers - a mixture of existing 2000's bangers and original songs - give him the chance to further show off his star power. He comes and sits in the audience, and invites us to be involved in the performance in wild and wacky ways without feeling pressurising. We never lose sight, however, of the fact that this is a show based on real life trauma, which helps ground the show's fantastical elements.

And fantastical they certainly are. As Willy's quest reaches a climax, the neon noughties pop vibes are overtaken by something darker and decidedly more gruesome, as we face the "monsters" of the church head on. This show is rated 18+ for a reason, and feels in many ways like the theatrical embodiment of sensory overload. It's deliberately uncomfortable, and undeniably a lot to take in, but effective nonetheless.

Hudson does an excellent job at bridging the gap between the two worlds of the show: while it is most definitely unhinged, it somehow still feels vaguely cohesive throughout, with good use of returning motifs and plot points. It's impressive the extent to which he manages to balance loud, no-holds-barred maximalism with a very personal real life story and maintain both.

A show of this scale couldn't be created by just one person. Welcome Home's programme has a long list of credits for a one man show, and it's clear that a lot of the show's spectacle is due to the many people who contributed to the magical world it creates. Director and dramaturg Zach James, alongside assistant, associate, and movement directors helped shape the piece, and the slick direction throughout proves that this was worthwhile. Special credit must go to set and costume designer Anna Orton for bringing this comic-book-style sci-fi sphere to life, alongside a vast team of sound, lighting, video, and stage management team members.

Welcome Home is not flawless: there are some minor sound mixing issues that mean witty lyrics can get lost, and the chronology of the story can get a little confusing at times. And so as the show began drawing near the end of its 80 minute run time, I found myself wondering whether it was going to stick the landing. I needn't have been concerned: in the final few minutes, Hudson presents us with a truly heartwarming surprise that provokes a chorus of gasps.

While it has an important message about the impact of religious homophobia, Welcome Home's greatest success is the awe and joy it provokes. It's an acid trip of a show, brimming with glee, energy, sexuality, and, above all, fun. If you want to feel part of a touching story, have a wild night out at the theatre, and belt "Angels" by Robbie Williams, get yourself to Soho Theatre before Welcome Home closes.

Welcome Home runs at Soho Theatre until 11 February

Photo Credit: Harry Elletson

Amber Anderson and Luke Newton Will Lead THE SHAPE OF THINGS at The Park Theatre Photo
Initial casting has been announced for the first major revival in 20 years of Neil LaBute's acclaimed play The Shape of Things in Park200. Nicky Allpress directs – Amber Anderson as Eve and Luke Newton as Adam, with further casting to be announced.

Riverside Studios to Enter Administration Photo
Riverside Studios in Hammersmith West London will enter administration, it has been announced. According to The Stage, the Riverside Trust, which has run the arts venue since 1983, will continue to trade under administration whilst a new buyer is found to take on ownership of the arts venue.

THE MONGOL KHAN Will Run At The London Coliseum This November Photo
The Mongol Khan is a lavish, large-scale production, with an ensemble of over 70 performers, that has played to packed houses in Mongolia for over a year. Based on historical events, the show explores the evolution of Mongolian culture through a gripping story, brought to life with a stunning original score, dance, puppetry, and elaborate sets and costumes inspired by traditional nomadic culture. 

Big Brass Brunch Brings Live Brass, Drag, Burlesque, Street Food, and Bottomless Prosecco  Photo
Big Brass Brunch is rolling into Colour Factory at Hackney Wick on Saturday May 20th with all the Prosecco you can drink, a vivacious drag host, mouth watering street food and a full-on live brass soundtrack to make for the most entertaining afternoon in the capital.

From This Author - Katie Kirkpatrick

Currently studying for a degree in French at Oxford, Katie has previously written for A Younger Theatre and Noises Off magazine at the National Student Drama Festival, and Ed Fringe Review. Sh... (read more about this author)

Review: COLOSSAL, Soho TheatreReview: COLOSSAL, Soho Theatre
March 23, 2023

In Colossal, Patrick McPherson presents us with what initially seems to be a love story. As the show develops however, we gradually discover what it really is: a twisting, tricky tale of morality. McPherson has been on the Fringe circuit for a few years now, finding success in Edinburgh and in Perth.  Soho Theatre have developed a reputation for bringing the best of Fringe theatre to central London, and Colossal is yet another success.

Review: AFTER THE ACT, New Diorama TheatreReview: AFTER THE ACT, New Diorama Theatre
March 16, 2023

After the Act is entirely different to any other musical currently running in London. Worlds away from the glitz and the glamour of the West End, theatre company Breach have tackled an era of British queer history through the form of a verbatim musical, and the result is a raw, creative performance like nothing else.

Review: SLEEPOVA, Bush TheatreReview: SLEEPOVA, Bush Theatre
March 12, 2023

Sleepova is a lovingly told story of female friendship, and one that’s specifically - and proudly - Black and queer. Writer Matilda Feyiṣayọ Ibini introduces us to four best friends: Rey, Elle, Shan and Funmi.

Review: AGE IS A FEELING, Soho TheatreReview: AGE IS A FEELING, Soho Theatre
February 24, 2023

Taking us from age 25 to death, this is a feat of theatre that captures the full human experience, presenting the highs and lows with remarkable honesty and warmth. You’ll feel joy, grief, sorrow, nostalgia, and every other emotion in Haley McGee’s magical solo show.

Review: AKEDAH, Hampstead TheatreReview: AKEDAH, Hampstead Theatre
February 21, 2023

Akedah won the 2019 Bruntwood Prize Original New Voices Award, and is Michael John O’Neill’s first full length play. It’s a tricky show in every sense of the word: the themes are very heavy, with little levity, and the plot is often hard to keep track of, as new details about the characters’ past are gradually added. The result is a very bleak, emotionally fraught production that’s difficult to unpick.