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Review | One Punch Wonder packs a wallop

One Punch Wonder | The Actors’ Hub | til Feb 25th | ★ ★ ★ 

The Actors’ Hub trains local actors. Fringe is an excellent opportunity to showcase the work of some of those performers.  This year four young men in collaboration with Director Amanda Crews are performing four different plays over a season of 12 nights. That is a pretty impressive challenge for any actor. What is even more impressive is that each of these works, bar one, was devised by the performers themselves. Last night we went to see the last of the plays One Punch Wonder; and this show certainly packs a whallop. You are going to want to see this.

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One Punch Wonder is a relentless, ensemble piece that focuses on King Hits a recent phenonenon that some have rebranded the Cowards Punch. Using the voices of families, victims and perpetrators as inspiration the show interrogates toxic masculinities that result in tragedy for everyone affected.

The set is a boxing ring. The bare chested actors are on stage for the entire performance. They prowl  the stage inhabiting the space with raw physicality. Together they enact the familiar rituals we have come to expect in some kind of primal dance. These performances are powerfully intense. The choreography, complex and demanding, is one of the highlights of this piece. It isn’t long before actors are dripping sweat onto the stage floor and the audience surrounding them on all four sides is sweating along with them.

Performers take on multiple characters. The play explores different view points. Each perspective is given space. At times the actors are playing against the voices of real people who speak about their  experience. This gives the play a documentary feel. The audience is forced to confront the devastation of this modern phenomenon. At some point however the relentless onslaught of information has a numbing effect blunting the effectiveness of its message.

Clearly an enormous amount of research has gone into devising this show. What is needed is someone to effectively curate the research. All of the information is worthy and the biggest challenge in this case has been choosing what to keep and what to set aside. The show is at least 30 minutes too long and would benefit from some judicious editing.

Having said that, I am enormously impressed with the commitment of these performers to their craft. Nicholas Allen, Adam Droppert, Andrew Dunstan and Christian Tomaszewski are dedicated, skillful artists. They are ably supported sound, lighting and backstage crew. I can see a future for this kind of storytelling in an educational setting; a touring show to highschools in WA and other states perhaps.

Many of us in the LGBT community are well aware of the violence that goes on just metres away from our local gay venues. Most of us know at least one person who has been a victim of that violence. If you are invested in the ongoing conversations about how we can make our communities safer then this play is for you. If you want to see a group of actors whose abilities are as athletic as they are impressive then you will appreciate this performance.

One Punch Wonder is on as part of the 4x4x4x4 series at The Actors’ Hub all Fringe long. More info at fringeworld.com.au

Charlie Perth


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