Engaging the Imperfect - Hold My Beer Review
After showcasing the depth of their wit and the extent of their innovation at the Anywhere Preview Night, HalfHitch brings to the fore a refreshingly lighthearted take on circus that demonstrates perhaps the best part of their repertoire: their willingness and eagerness to engage in the imperfect.
Hold My Beer is an exploration of a most ridiculous night, and exemplifies the guerrilla theatre making we’ve come to expect from the Fast & Loose creators. The show is comprised of distinct but connected routines, blurring the lines between comedy, introspection, circus, and song. As with the Preview Night, the ensemble thrives in the spaces in between. The rougher aspects of the performance ring true as the most authentic, and end up endearing the audience more to the shenanigans themselves, rather than the production they’re built around. Each step away from the comfortable and into the ridiculous is a step worth taking.
A solid musical accompaniment drives the thrilling display, and the moments of little narratives emerging in the physicality and rhythms was a joy. The songs are all made to be exceptionally interactive, and it’s hard to ignore the enthusiasm and passion of the performers. Hold My Beer shines in those moments where the enjoyment of the cast and the audience is in the same place. And considering the entire production has essentially given HalfHitch the freedom to engage in riotous silliness and drunken shenanigans for the full hour, these moments come frequently.
If nothing else, the cast is entirely committed to their premise, and their own satisfaction with the content is both clear to see, and entirely refreshing. In this way, some routines seem as much a surprise for the performers as they are for the audience, as they chart their way through the planned and unplanned aspects of the night.
The undeniable charm of Hold My Beer can be attributed entirely to the wholehearted performers who bring it to life. The entire cast is eminently watchable. In another departure from convention, the entire crew is present in front of the audience. And thankfully, no one disappoints. Regan Henry brings a sense of maturity to the production, and digs to surprising depths in her interactions with the rest of the cast. Kelsey Laura’s sardonic wit and sensuality pairs wells, and the two ground the show. Sheldon Jadamson’s musical stylings compliment the rebellious performances, and his sincere difficulty in keeping up with his more athletic companions is incredibly endearing to an audience that can certainly sympathise. Kristy Stanfield is no less impressive, and is incredibly inventive, especially in the moments where the accordion comes out. The stand out of the show is Elyse Nicole, whose playful and energetic routines keep the energy high and soar the production to new heights.
The setting is intimate, but there is a clustered nature to the venue that is equal parts a fantastic asset, and a frustrating hindrance. Key parts of the performance occur closer to the ground, and while the front rows were amazed by the variety, attendees one or two rows behind them struggled to make the same connection.
Likewise, given the casual nature of the setting, at times it was difficult to remember that the cast is composed professionals with decades of experience between them. It was clear to see that much effort was made to ensure the safety of the performers and the audience. However, within such a confined space, the ultimate potential for dangerous outcomes hard too ignore. In a way, Hold My Beer best captures the lilting uncertainties present in a night out, and the constant athletic feats in this way are particularly impressive and heart stopping, though the fact they don’t end in death was constantly and frequently surprising. This illusion of indulgent amateurism appeared to facilitate the carefree and rambunctious atmosphere.
At its heart, and to its benefit, Hold My Beer is a show that can only get better. This lighthearted and beautifully self-aware production will continue to thrive as it grows and changes with each performance. One should experience its first iteration, if only to let go with HalfHitch for a while.