Melbourne Fringe: Love/Hate Actually

MF Natalie Bochenski and Amy Currie feature in Love Hate Actually AARThe varied subplots of the 2003 film Love Actually build towards Christmas resolutions, causing it to become a staple of Yuletide viewing. Whilst Amy Currie (in Christmas sweater) likes the Rom-Com, long-time friend Natalie Bochenski (wearing disdainful look) strongly disagrees. It’s time for these Queenslanders of Act/React Theatre to settle this dispute, regardless of the potential collateral damage, in Love/Hate Actually.

Love Actually, written and directed by English comedy legend Richard Curtis, featured an ensemble cast of British acting talent. Its 63% approval rating makes it “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet, as it’s the internet era, you don’t have to look too hard to find various criticisms of the film which doesn’t pass the Bechdel test.

A key question here is: does a film have to be perfect and woke to 2018 standards to be worthwhile? In making their cases, Bochenski and Currie – who have researched their source material to the point of being obsessive – would go through the roles and interactions of the films multitude of characters.

Bochenski would question (vigorously) the plausibility of events. She had pie charts to demonstrate her (sometimes still quite subjective) observations of flaws in scenes. Currie wanted to accentuate the positive, considering the film’s fun and uplifting aspects, suggesting that the magic of Christmas allows for a little suspension of disbelief.

The audience had opportunity to participate in dissection of the film. Punters participated in an amusing workshop on inappropriate behaviour in the film’s work sequences, and how to fix this. The company gave us some humorous sketches drawing on scenes of the film with unexpected twists.

Arguments were made earnestly, sometimes with costumes and video footage. Whilst some gags depended on solid fandom, many others required only a general familiarity with plot points, and earned good laughs. As tempers flared in the back-and-forth, we might wonder, is this a contest to the death … of the friendship?

What we see from Bochenski and Currie in Love/Hate Actually (or maybe rediscover from the pre-Twitter age?) is that maybe we’re not completely right and our rivals aren’t completely wrong. And, if people of strong opinions listen to each other’s views, perhaps they can find something in common.

Packed full of entertaining commentary, Act/React Theatre have produced a show for our times that has plenty to entertain. If you can’t quite let go of Melbourne Fringe 2018 yet, you have a last chance to pick a side on whether it’s Love/Hate Actually, and cast your vote. Rest assured, this show contains good amounts of Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, and only traces of Keira Knightley.

Love/Hate Actually           
The Ballroom – The Lithuanian Club, Errol Street North Melbourne
Friday 28 September 2018 – 8.00pm
Season continues to 29 September 2018
Information and Bookings:

Image: Natalie Bochenski and Amy Currie feature in Love/Hate Actually (supplied)

Review: Jason Whyte