Oliver Wellington

A Good Clean Heart



Underbelly Cowgate, Edinburgh

A Good Clean Heart by Alun Saunders is a bilingual play, told half in English and half in Welsh (subtitles in both languages are projected onto the front of a bus stop, perfectly integrated into a dazzling, at times frenetic, multi-media collage).

It’s Hefin (James Ifan)’s eighteenth birthday, and his adoptive parents , Gwilym and Ros, give him an envelope. It’s a letter from a brother he’s long forgotten; they were separated by social services when Hefin was very small. And Jay (Oliver Wellington) has always wanted to reconnect with the little boy he was so heartbroken to lose.

They’ve both got problems; Hefin’s angry outbursts cause him trouble at home and at school, and Jay is tagged and under curfew after spending months in gaol. And, when they meet, things start to get very complicated indeed.

I loved this play; both performances are exemplary, and Mared Swain’s lively direction makes for an exciting, kinetic production, which never loses pace.

The writing is sympathetic; this isn’t a judgemental play. Hefin, Jay, Raymande, Ros and Reann: they’re all badly flawed, but they’ll be okay. They’re real. They’re just doing their best to get along.

And this is a wonderful, heart-warming production.

5 stars

Susan Singfield