Tuesday 4 September 2018

Love/Hate Actually - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

Released almost 15 years ago, Love Actually is a romantic comedy film that has acquired universal adoration with its look at a group of people living in London and the relationships they have had, currently have or seek. Or has it? Over the years, a growing number of people have come out against the film due to its perceived sexism and problematic storylines. Well the feud is about to be settled this Melbourne Fringe Festival with Love/Hate Actually.

Performed and written by Amy Currie and Natalie Bochenski, Love/Hate Actually is a sketch comedy where the two try and convince the other (and the audience) to join their side. "Nat and I have an argument every year over the merits of Love Actually. In our two-woman show, we take the grudge to the stage," Currie says. "It’s a comedy showdown full of sketches, persuasive arguments and silly voices that ends with an extremely democratic (if somewhat unorthodox) audience vote."  

Currie and Bochenski have worked together for over a decade, and it was during one of their shows that the two began to have a discussion about Love Actually which sowed the seeds for their show. "We were in Canberra to do some Regency-themed improvised comedy at the Jane Austen Festival (we are suckers for bonnets). Obviously, we were thinking a lot about Colin Firth that day," she tells me. "Over some very ambitious freakshakes, Nat was musing that a cruel, one-sided article she’d written about her hatred for Love Actually might make for a (cruel, one-sided) one-woman show. I insisted at once that balance was necessary, and we started scribbling."

While Bochenski is the hater, Currie is more than happy to be the lover of the film. "I adore daggy Christmas traditions, heartfelt declarations of love and Colin Firth having feelings. What’s not to love? It’s a fun, feel-good movie, and the turtlenecks are amazing. It’s basically the perfect Christmas film. Anyone who hates Love Actually is an actual monster. Sure, some bits don’t make huge amounts of sense, but I can’t watch it without crying happy tears."

So in Currie's professional opinion on the matter, how has a movie that was intended to bring people together and melt their hearts, become so divisive? "We’ve been genuinely surprised at how passionate audiences are about the film – either for or against," she says. "Natalie and her followers would argue that it’s because the plot is full of holes, several of the characters are straight-up creepy and quite a few of the jokes haven’t aged well. Those who agree with me tend to forgive these flaws because they’re too busy weeping happy tears."

Given the opportunity to do the same concept but with a different film, Currie already has a firm favourite in mind. "I think we’d have a wonderful time dissecting various Austen adaptations, but let’s be honest – the whole thing would descend fairly quickly into slow-motion replays of Colin Firth’s Mr Darcy diving soulfully into a lake or glowering in a top hat. These are things everyone can agree on."

Five Quick Ones

1. Art is often too serious.
2. If you had to become an animal, which would you choose and why?

I think I’d make a really good Instagram dog. I’d be one of the weird-looking ones with three legs and an underbite and bug eyes. I would wear funny little outfits and have an endearing behavioural quirk like being terrified of pinecones or something. It’d be great.
3. What song would you play on repeat to torture someone?

Is the someone Natalie? If so, I’d be wildly off-message if I said anything other than Mariah Carey’s festive 1994 masterpiece, "All I Want for Christmas is You".
4. How long would you survive in a zombie apocalypse? 

Ten minutes. Maybe twenty. I’d probably hide the fact I’d been bitten, too. The best I could really hope for would be a last-minute act of self-sacrifice before I turned so that my friends could escape, but, honestly, it’s unlikely.
5. It just isn't a Fringe Festival experience without hiding your festering zombie bite from everyone you meet.

Show Information

Venue: Lithuanian Club, 44 Errol St, North Melbourne
Season:  22 - 29 September | Tues - Sat 8pm, Sun 7pm 
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $28 Full | $25 Conc | $20 Cheap Tuesday
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

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