Hugh Hughes, a one-man charm factory, has built up quite a reputation in the world of fringe theatre for his touching storytelling shows. But this is the first year he's made a leap into the comedy section, and also the first year he's performed alone - although on the basis of this thoroughly engaging piece, you would never think he needed any help mesmerising an audience.
Whether the move into comedy is the right one might be a moot point, as there will be scores of festival shows funnier than this. But very few as life-affirmingly uplifting, I'll wager.
This is a tale about friendship and childishness, and how we should never let either wither away. To initiate the first subject, he begins by moving around the audience, introducing punters to each other, making friends. His interaction can have a touch of the overenthusiastic drama teacher about it, but it proves effective, creating an atmosphere where everyone feels involved.
Perhaps too involved, as few more lively punters mistook this for pantomime, overdramatically oohing and aahing at all the appropriate moments - and a few inappropriate ones - although Hughes dealt with it admirably. It might have been better had the house lights been turned off, to better focus attention on the stage, even with Hughes's top-drawer storytelling skills.
He expertly drew us into his decades-spanning tale, mixing childhood memories of making dams, friends and awkward advances to girls with a more contemporary, but nonetheless linked, experience of when he returned to his native Anglesey after two months in London. Two months in which he seemed to lose all joy for the world as he became enveloped by what he calls the ‘Jack Johnson' mood, after a cynical killjoy he had to work with.
Back in Wales, he planned to clear his head with a walk up Snowdon and a 360-degree look at the panorama with his best mate Gareth. But he grumpily wasn't in the mood for any of his pal's silly playfulness, putting the 30-year friendship under strain.
It seems like a slight premise for a whole show, but it's a tale rich in detail, emotion and personal nostalgia. The impish Hughes has an infectious energy, and not just the upbeat kind, as he's able to manipulate the audience's mood to match his own remembered highs and lows, with subtle but effective performance
So, yes, the underlying message is a little trite - don't lose your childish sense of fun - but the eminently likeable Hughes never makes it seem so. This is yarn-spinning that's serious (at least some of the time), honest and genuine, and guaranteed to put a spring in your step.