REVIEW: Heart Go…Boom! (Massive Theatre Company)

Review by Ben Shand-Clennell

Heart Go…Boom! is an entertaining and affecting devised piece which explores and critiques the relationships we have with ourselves, and with others. 

The play consists of five performers sharing semi-autobiographical solo pieces and wider ensemble work. The stories depicted are a great mix of universal and personal – from self-service checkout woes to having a twin, or from fitting-in to experiencing a loss of language. The cast all do a terrific job at keeping the separate vignettes earnest and sincere, and ensure that the audience feel moved by the familiar and the strange. Many of the stories deal with the widely appealing themes of growing-up and adulthood.

The actors do an incredible job of creating humorous and poignant moments throughout. The performances are at their best in the abundant use of movement and mime. The intimation of objects, the chorus work, and the mimesis of movement between performers are standouts, and provide a pleasing visual throughline for the whole play.

The set and costumes are minimal, but used to great effect. The use of bright-coloured overalls and sneakers evoke images of playground exploration, and the use of paper aeroplanes in the set cements this. The directors’ notes in the programme ask ‘how do you take care of the little person who lives in your heart?’. It is an effective tool to endeavour to answer this question by portraying child-like innocence, and contrasting this with depictions of the weight and responsibility of adulthood.

The lighting designer, Jane Hakaraia, provided an energetic design, which did a fantastic job of solidifying the bright-coloured stylistic elements, and also highlighting important moments. The design was executed masterfully by the operator, Zane Allen, for some very wonderfully-timed comedic bits. The directors, Ebony Andrew and Jes’mine Palaaia, have done a fantastic job of honing the stories, and creating a rich stage and world for the performances to inhabit.

It was unfortunate that Tane Te Pakeke-Patterson was not able to perform, but Assistant Director, Harmony Hogarth, should be commended for stepping up to the plate and giving such a strong performance.

Heart Go…Boom! is an absolute delight. The performances, the story, the lighting design, costuming, and the set design are the most cohesive in recent memory. It is refreshing to see a production use a restricted number of media and stylistic choices, but utilise them to the fullest extent. The creative team have done a fantastic job of producing a play where all the constituent elements work in harmony.

Heart Go…Boom! plays at Basement Theatre from 25th to 29th July 2023

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