Thirst by Callum Hughes

Rural Tour, UK Theatre Tour, Edinburgh Fringe 2023

Thirst started out touring pubs and community centres around rural England, bringing theatre to areas with limited access to the arts.  This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of InnCrowd, Applause Rural Touring, Wildcard Foundation and Create Recovery. 

Following the incredible reception of Thirst, Callum teamed up with Fake Escape and toured the show to theatres around the UK with the support of Arts Council England who fully funded the tour.  After four performances at Vault Festival which garnered rave reviews, Callum was invited by Pleasance to be part of their Edinburgh Fringe 2023 programme - completing a 12-month journey for Thirst which grew from strength to strength.  Read more about the show including the range of four and five star reviews below… 

Jimi Hendrix. Kurt Cobain. Amy Winehouse. All sadly members of the infamous 27 Club. In July 2018, two months shy of his 28th birthday, Callum Hughes was nearly added to that list.

Join the acclaimed writer and performer as he takes you on a journey from a small Oxfordshire town to the bright lights of the Big Smoke as he attempts to discover who he is without looking through the bottom of the bottle.

Featuring music original and familiar, Thirst is both a love letter to sobriety and a celebration of all things alcoholic.

This debut solo show from actor and writer Callum Hughes (One Man Two Guvnors, Godspell) charts the true story of his journey through addiction, recovery, sobriety and ultimately… acceptance.

Thirst is also a joyous and uproarious look at life, family, theatre, religion and most importantly, the positivity of the pub.

So pull up a barstool, order Callum a 0% lager and listen to his incredible story...




'One of the most incredible storytellers we've ever seen' ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

 Ask The Ushers 

Callum’s magnetic personality and natural talent for storytelling captivating the audience. ‘A funny, uplifting hour of storytelling…entertaining and highly relatable’ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 


'Callum is a master storyteller’ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

 One 4 Review

A captivating, charismatic storyteller. Thirst is a brilliant piece of theatre, refreshingly honest and creative’ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

Lost in Theatreland

His relaxed and charming personality warm you to him immediately… and I came away with a deep respect for him too’ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

Theatre and Art Reviews

 ‘Pick of the Fringe’ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

Mervyn Stutter

‘…it feels as though you are sharing an intimate moment with a close friend who is bearing their soul to you’ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

 Theatre Things 

‘A combination of laughter and reflectiveness’ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

- London Theatre 1 

Thirst leaves you wanting more’  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 Reviews Hub


Audience reactions

Audience Reviews

'This is a do-not-miss; Callum is so engaging and shares this with us so bravely and beautifully, using his musical and story-telling talent to reach and resonate with the audience. This is a cleverly structured resonant narrative with a lot of impact, and I highly recommend!' 

'This show wasn’t on my radar until I was handed a flier (they DO work folks!) - and I’m so glad I got to see it.
It’s a beautiful, challenging, funny and uplifting story told with grace, wit and brutal honesty. Throughout, Callum effortlessly provides the soundtrack on acoustic guitar that adds to the atmosphere without distracting from his story.
Make sure you see this show.
Hope to see Callum back at the Fringe next year'

I experienced touching introspection from a deep, vulnerable character and good guitar riffs. My highlight.

What a gorgeous, lush, heartfelt show. Callum is such an amazing storyteller and he sings like an angel and fantastic songwriter to boot. Easily the best solo show I've seen this season at The Fringe.

This guy is an amazing story teller who takes you on his journey in an utterly compelling and moving way. Gripping from start to finish - funny, sad, raw and honest. Highly recommended

This show is engaging and informative, but most of all, entertaining. Callum draws us in with strong storytelling skills and original songs, before hitting us with the impact of his drinking. Highly recommended

I don’t normally write reviews, but I felt moved to do so by Callum’s performance. The thing that stands out to me is that his performance is truthful - there is nothing artificial or contrived about it, he just tells it like it was: and yet he doesn’t make the audience feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. This is no mean feat, given the intensely personal nature of the subject matter. It’s entertaining, his energy is delightful, and he comes across as a nice bloke with something important to tell you. One of the highlights of the festival, for me.


'As a recovering alcoholic, I was deeply moved by this wonderfully warm, funny and touching show. Sobbed my eyes out and laughed a LOT and Callum was so kind'

Thirst’ deserves to be the show at the top of your ‘must see’ list. From the moment we set foot in the intimate Pleasance venue Callum had struck up a genuinely engaging rapport with the audience who then hung on his every word & note! He has an intimate and vulnerable quality to his style of storytelling that makes you feel like you’re sitting in his living room having a heart to heart & the tales he tells somehow manage to be both heartbreaking but with the perfect amount of humour. Told from the soul & sprinkled with beautiful music, my main disappointment was when the show ended as I could’ve sat through another hour. Unlike anything else I’ve seen at the fringe this year- a welcome relief in its unapologetic honesty & simplicity Thirst deserves to be seen by everyone. HIGHLY recommend!

I was blown away by this show.  My highlight of the fringe.

Sounds corny, but this is really real. This was the best show I saw at the fringe this year. Great music, heart rending story beautifully told. Book it.

So much more endearing, engaging & funny than I thought this would be from the into. This is heartwarming stuff from a very entertaining storyteller - not a car crash youngster's tale of self destruction & angst! Talented guy too.

One of our top picks from the fringe! Can’t recommend this show enough, beautiful, earnest, touching storytelling from a masterful storyteller Callum Hughes. If you are going to see one thing at the fringe, see this - you won’t regret it!


Great show VERY ENGAGING /

We went last minute at the recommendation of a friend
it’s the first time I’ve seen a one man show about someone’s experience of addiction - which sounds like awful content for theatre but it’s so so not
This play is about being human and one persons story- but it’s unsentimental because it’s honest but more importantly really engaging/ funny/ emotional/ powerful and just very entertaining and non self indulgent
Even though it’s about a sensitive issue , as an audience , I didn’t feel manipulated - it was refreshing and therefore quite a liberating piece of theatre to see
Deffo my top show at the fringe - been to see about 7 shows up to now





What a show. Relentlessly good storytelling from Callum in this deeply personal show, accompanied on guitar by his original songs. One of the best solo shows I’ve seen this Fringe!

Callum is a talented storyteller, playing a musical accompaniment on the guitar throughout the tale of his life, and almost the end of it, featuring his original songs. This is an incredibly moving, warm, funny and emotive show. I cried, I laughed and I left with a sense of the positivity in being alive. I couldn't reccommend this show more. Go spend an hour of Callum's life with him, you won't regret it.

This was our first show of this year for us and he set the bar exceptionally high.
His story is heartwarming, emotional and funny as hell.
His ability to engage everyone in his audience is special, his delivery even more so.
We told everyone we met to go and spend an hour in Callum's company.
If you are wanting to see a show that takes you on an emotive journey, that concludes with you feeling happier than when you went in, this is a must! *****

An outstanding one man show. Callum is able to engage in heartbreaking and difficult subject matter whilst simultaneously taking the audience through an uplifting and moving experience. The musicianship and acting craft on show are exceptional.

A beautifully engaging show. I laughed a lot, I was moved, and I was fully brought along with Callum and his story. Callum has a natural way of captivating the audience and winding up and down his journey so you’re waiting to see what will be round the next turn. Highly recommended.

Callum does a highly engaging and entertaining show. It's a very raw performance, so full of heart, true and a very entertaining story. It's been my favourite and I do recommend it to everyone I talk to as it deserves to be seen and enjoy by as many people as possible


The Journey...

When I first approached InnCrowd about Thirst, I never imagine they'd ever agree to it.  A show about alcoholism touring to pubs around rural England?  But such is their bravery and commitment to challenging work - they backed me all the way, commissioning me to create the piece fully alongside co-directors Roann Hassan McCloskey and David Shopland.  

After previewing the piece at London's Pen Theatre in Bermondsey, I went on to tour the show in far flung venues, pubs and libraries from Cleethorpes to Kent, Swanage to Somerset. Following the success of the rural tour, producers Take Escape applied to ACE funding to tour the show to Pub Theatres around the UK. Dates from January to March included Bristol, Bath, York, Cambridge, Suffolk and London.  

During the London run at Vault Festival, Nick Connaughton from The Pleasance came to see the show and offered us a place in this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme.  Nick said 'one thing I love about your show, is that you don't use the audience for therapy – you've already done the therapy – and as a result it's solid and slick, whilst still rooted in truth'.  


Now we embark on a month's run in Edinburgh - an ambition of mine I'm elated to be realising as I celebrate 13 years as a theatre-maker, and 5 years sober!


Thirst wouldn't have been possible to make without the support of several organisations including Arts Council England, InnCrowd, Create Recovery, The Wildard Foundation and producing partners, Fake Escape