By Adam Stepfner
"Love/Hate" Actually, written and performed by Natalie Bochenski and Amy Currie, tells the simple story of two friends and one film, Love Actually. Amy, being a strong advocate for the film and Natalie, who on the contrary, hates Love Actually, the audience finds themselves in the middle of what almost seems to be a great political debate. In an immersive theatre experience, the show allows us to weigh each argument then decide for ourselves, is Love Actually a cinematic masterpiece, as Amy suggests? Or is it simply garbage, according to Natalie?
The show combines live performance, projection and audience involvement to build the story, which helps create a very casual vibe in the theatre. Amy and Natalie play themselves, giving us a glimpse into a true and realistic friendship, which in the context of the piece works perfectly, although it would have been nice to see characters with a more nuance, or a more stylistic approach, rather than a presentation of themselves on stage. The plot of the story follows a back and forth debate where Amy and Natalie present almost mini "TedX" talks for the audience to take in, in which they explain the plot of the film. At times it becomes quite disengaging for audience members, in particular those who haven't seen the film and struggle to place the scenes spoken about in full context. From there, we travel through a series of comedy sketches even a workplace behaviour workshop wherein audience members were involved, to the finale in which the audience chooses a side, by throwing small heart-shaped stress balls out onto the stage, which created something fun and engaging where the entire room was involved. These moments were effective in breaking up the main plot, giving the audience a break from the constant battle between the two opinions. Natalie seemed quite harsh at times, quite vicious in taking down Amy's opinions, which understandably is the point of the show, and part of any friendship, but unfortunately seems too aggressive, even under the circumstances. Towards the final moments of the show, we see Amy and Natalie go through the realisation of each others points, although Natalie comes to a rather strange conclusion, where she "hope's she doesn't grow as a person" again lacking nuance. They find solace and a happy medium within each others arguments, providing a heartfelt ending to the piece.
The production design for the show was simple yet effective, adding to the casual vibe the show was striving for, also allowing for the projections to shine as a starring element of the show. Many props were used such as Christmas hats, microphones, signs and costume pieces for audience members who got up on stage to wear. Some technical difficulties arose with sound and lighting cues, although the actors worked through it and the issues were resolved quickly and with little to no disruption to the piece at all.
Love/Hate Actually creates a fun and interactive experience for theatre goers, with fresh and funny dialogue the show gives audiences a look into the real challenges and triumphs of friendship. That said, it can be quite tedious at times, Love/Hate Actually would be a perfect show for any fan of "Love Actually" playing as part of Sydney Fringe Festival at The Old 505 in Newtown, from September 17th - 21st.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.