Theatre Preview: HUG @ Tobacco Factory Theatres

by Polly Hember

Verity Standen is a celebrated Bristol-based composer, who returns to the Tobacco Factory Theatres next week with HUG. This choral piece is set to be a unique somatic performance that tentatively plays with the boundaries of sensory experience, audience participation and engagement.

This exciting performance takes immersive theatre to new levels, forcing the audience out of a passive and everyday experience of music or theatre. Each member of the audience will blindfold themselves to then be hugged by a singer. Unable to situate themselves in their unseen surroundings, the blindfold strips normative and dependable sensory experiences in order to explore new ones. The participants experience the show through sound, breath and vibrations of the body of the choir as they sing.

First performed at The Wardrobe Theatre in 2013, HUG has received an Off West End Award, embarked on a national tour, seen two Edinburgh Festivals, and is returning to Bristol before setting off on an international tour. In each location, Standen and her vocal ensemble coach groups of local singers to perform the immersive piece with her to new audiences so each run of HUG is unique.


This interesting and thought provoking performance playfully explores perception and perspective through the senses by experimenting with the limits of the profound power of music, the human voice and our capacity to experience it.


Directed by Verity Standen

Dates 18th – 21st July
Times 7.15pm, 8pm, 8.45pm

Tickets £7

Running time 25 minutes

Age Recommendation 18+
HUG is very accessible for visually impaired audiences

To book

Box Office 0117 902 0344


Tom Spencer (Standen's producer) says: “It’s difficult to put into words the range of reactions that HUG seems to elicit from audiences… some people find it joyful and euphoric, some find it moving to the point of tears, and many simply enjoy the waves of beautiful harmony singing. I urge people of Bristol – music lovers, curious theatregoers, or anyone who’d just like to experience a short moment of peace – to snap up tickets while they can; I guarantee you won’t have experienced anything quite like it before.”

★★★★ “Song erupts around you… it’s startling, moving and genuinely immersive” - Guardian


★★★★★ “The most immediate, visceral experience of music as human expression possible… like an antenna to heaven” - Time Out


★★★★ “There is more to it than just sensation. HUG is also a strangely cathartic experience, unequivocally illustrating the power that music holds to move us” - Exeunt

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