Promotional material rates the show as 18 years plus. The Hardcore in the title helps to underpin this. But this particular performance remains very much in the sphere of family entertainment. However, through using audience instigated scenarios there could be future times in which the cast is led towards darker realms.
Director James Smith warms up the night's patrons and a venue for the opening improvisation is then selected by a member of the audience (something repeated in the second half). A park was selected for the opening sequence and a cat cafe to launch the second half. The latter had then to be explained to the cast as being a cafe where patrons could pamper cats not where you could eat cat food or the animals themselves. Such is the rapport that develops between cast and audience the moment simply adds to the fun and quirkiness of the evening.
Each short improvisation involves two cast members exploring their expectations of life and relationships. All are humorous satire and work wonderfully well. The scenes are brief tending to the outlandish and even bizarre. But they are founded on real life situations we can all relate to. The pace is hectic as cast members move from one situation to another often changing to different partners with each shift of scenario. With over 20 of these in the 60 minutes it is impossible to refer to them all. Suffice to say improvisations on review night ranged across: feeding ducks in the park, marrying to gain a share of a phd, bedroom stimulants (can pepper spray really be a bedtime stimulant for your partner), obsessive protectionism between flatmates to purchasing an armoured vehicle as the next family car for increased safety, hair gel preferences as a basis of friendship, oddball career advice, and child rejecting a mother's love over not getting what they want. In this case a real family giraffe. This last has added hilarity given the “child” is a 30s something bearded actor and the “mother” one of the male cast members.
The relationships in each of the two opening sequences are delightfully developed further via continuing intrusions throughout the performance. Additionally, these two themes end each half with a scene at first impression appearing to precede their opening sequences. If my interpretation is correct then this is subtle and very clever theatre. But then so is the whole evening.
James and his team of Duncan Ballinger, Tristram Domican, Jan Field, Jamie Hoare, Richard Hoffman, Joel Luscombe, Jonathan Mandeno Cailin Neal, Olivia Willis and Tony Yuile can congratulate themselves in enriching Wellington's theatre scene with Hardcore Truth.
Let's have more please.
Hardcore Truth runs from March 5-9 inclusive at the Scruffy Bunny Improv Theatre, 40 Courtenay Place. To book tickets, or for more information on other shows in Wellington's Fringe Festival, visit the NZ Fringe website.