There’s noisy crowds, mascots, T-shirt cannons, cheerleaders, athleticism, and inspirational speeches from the coach. He needs you to release the ball. He needs you to remember the plays. He’s asking if you have what it takes to go out on the field, pick up that hockey puck, dribble down the court to the End-zone and shoot it from the free-throw line for a home run.
Hoke’s Bluff. Hoke from “hokey” perhaps? Because, this entertaining cliché-ridden, sport tropes-driven piece of theatre is a mythic milkshake of concentrated last second plays and “Can he win the game and keep the girl?” plights. It’s funny in places and doesn’t tire – even when one half of the cast collapses on his back, chest heaving, having just completed a set of drills.
Gemma Paintin and James Stenhouse played all the characters very well, whether cheerleader, coach or quarterback. Laura Dannequin also did good work providing support on the periphery as the referee, calling penalties throughout the show that would mark a change in play (and the end of a scene).
With so much sport entangled with issues of toxic masculinity, and the privileges and freedoms given to these young male “stars”, there was plenty of darker material they could have touched on. However, this was a Norman Rockwell painting on stage, a portrait-in-motion of American sporting life. For now we’re in the light; the dark comes later.
Arts House – North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne
Performance: Wednesday 24 May – 7.30pm
Season continues to 27 May 2017
Information and Bookings: www.artshouse.com.au
Image: courtesy of Action Hero
Review: David Collins