We were Promised Honey!
A solo storytelling show about living towards an inevitable end. A performer tells the future of the audience. Telling the story of a baby born in a lighthouse; a man on fire in the middle of the desert, two lovers reunited in a flooded city; a spaceship on the edge of a black hole.
We were Promised Honey! tells three stories in sequence, with an ongoing story based on the 2018 Horizon Air Q400 incident in the background that spaces out the three pieces. These are stories of mankind’s hope, aspirations, unpredictability, and ultimately, its demise. It is mostly a narration told by a single person (Sam Ward), and some readings from audience volunteers. Rather than interactions, the narrator provides specific instructions to the volunteers, who follow the directions to either read out pre-written dialogues or repeat after the narrator. With this type of structure, there are usually variations in the quality of delivery depending on the volunteers’ responses and their confidence in public speaking. However, the instructions given are specific, simple to follow and it is difficult to imagine that control could be lost at all.
The set is simple, and the only props on stage are a stool and two stand up microphones. It can be questioned whether even these are needed. The narration is clear, highly descriptive, does not rely on visual aids and the delivery is almost completely dependent on the written material’s ability to instigate one’s imaginations. Even should one close their eyes, they would find the experience equally immersive as they are taken on a journey to an imagined world. Sam’s voice has a calming, mesmerising effect and reminds me of a young David Attenborough, which is another person that I can listen to all day.
Despite the fact that it is repeated time and again during the show that the story does not have a happy ending and there are attempts to plant the seeds of tragedy in its tone, the narrator also describes the hope and ecstasy in three separate journeys: delivery of a new life to the world, striking to do good for the benefit of people, and falling in love. Even the ongoing story in the background that tells the stolen aircraft and what appears will be an inevitable crash is filled with the sense of freedom.
Richard Russell stole a plane at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in 2018. As Sam described, the plane crashed a little over an hour after take-off. However, rather than purely focusing on the physical and real-life event, the audience is prompted to think about the other possibilities, what went through Richard’s head during the flight, and what could have happened to him should he survived the incident. While the strength of the materials are to be applauded, the links between the 2018 Horizon Air incident and the 3 stories are tenuous and a stronger and more clear link would have been appreciated.
This is a thought-provoking piece of performance, combining multiple forms of storytelling in a short space of time. Although using what appears to be a hopeless situation and real-life story as the basis, it is almost as if the ending itself is inconsequential, and it is far more important to recognise the impact of mankind itself and what will serve as proof of its existence, instigating the hopefulness and significance of man’s journey through the eons.