A Good Clean Heart (3 stars)

This article is from 2016

A Good Clean Heart

Punchy Welsh / English bilingual coming-of-age drama

Hefin is 18 when his parents – his adoptive parents, it turns out – tell him he has a brother. And that he's been sending letters for years, which they've concealed. After an accidental online encounter, the young man flees small town Wales to head to London and his unseen sibling – where he gets a few unexpected insights into the darker sides of contemporary life.

It seems churlish to call it a gimmick, but A Good Clean Heart's distinguishing feature is that it's in both Welsh and English, with each language subtitled in the other (although the subtitling could do with a polish to keep up with the speedy spoken dialogue). But, in the end, Alun Saunders's script hardly delves into language differences, certainly not as an embodiment of the two men's contrasting backgrounds.

Instead, A Good Clean Heart is a punchy coming-of-age story, with brotherly affection battling against the darker impulses of growing up, and it deals with the inevitable disappointments of adult reality nimbly. James Ifan and Oliver Wellington give very strong, considered performances as the brotherly double-act, and Zakk Hein's attractive video design manages to be both stylish and instructional. It's a fine achievement – with or without language issues.

Underbelly Cowgate, until 28 Aug (not 15, 22), £10-£11 (£9-£10)

A Good Clean Heart

  • 3 stars

Neontopia / Wales Millennium Centre Hefin knows he's adopted – just not where from. Jay's felt hiraeth for 15 years. What the f*ck is hiraeth? This dynamic, bilingual play in English and Welsh from award-winning playwright Alun Saunders is the story of two brothers, raised apart in different families and languages. With…