Hunch, one of two productions from DugOut Theatre this festival (along with Songlines at the Pleasance Courtyard) continues the company’s new approach of single-person storytelling with personal but universally accessible narratives. Following on from last festival’s effort, Replay, Hunch takes this mode and soars. The result is an immensely captivating story and a wonderfully whimsical world.
An immensely captivating story and a wonderfully whimsical world.
Hunch is the story of a young woman, Una, and her journey to become the titular superhero of the tale, armed with the power of making gut decisions for others. One by one she answers the summons of the citizens of ‘Hum’ and makes their decisions for them all while dealing with her struggles to balance superhero-ing and her personal life; it’s a wonderful and thoughtful upturning of the superhero genre. The production is anchored by a whirlwind performance from Kate Kennedy, who expertly juggles switching between intrinsically detailed characters, creating the world of Hum and demonstrating intensely sharp wit. Every character performed is given equal effort and respect with details such as accents and posture giving the world a sense of magic and vividness while Kennedy navigates their transformations with precision and magnetism.
The play begins in dramatic fashion as we are quickly introduced to Una and thrust into her world. There is an argument to make here that the rush to create an exciting opening is to the detriment of creating a solid foundation for the audience’s understanding of the story - for this is the kind of story that requires a fair bit of attention and listening on the audience’s part to avoid getting lost. Early moments were occasionally not given space to breathe, be fully expressed or taken in by the audience. This said, once the story progresses and the rhythm settles it is increasingly easy to be hooked by Kennedy’s engaging flow. Her performance is perfectly accompanied by a thematically appropriate set recreating a photography studio that makes ingenious use of studio lighting, and audio that helps to provide depth to the tone of the tale.
The subtext undercurrent in Hunch’s exploration of decisions and heroism bubbles steadily and reeks throughout the performance. The piece’s climactic ‘action’ scene feels appropriately grave thanks to a skilful and exciting performance and is added to by an intriguing antagonist; this, however, doesn’t prevent a simplistic resolution to the action. This said, the ending does eventually tie together many of the play’s threads nicely. Una’s story is sure to linger in your mind long after you leave the theatre - perhaps more than you thought it might at first - not least due to the allegorical twist that fantastically brings the heart of the piece straight down to earth. Hunch would be a win purely for its powerful performance from Kennedy and precise direction by Sara Joyce, however the story (painstakingly crafted by Kennedy herself) propels the piece up, up and away.