Clarity in chaos [by Matt Baker]
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who can’t relate to some degree with the premise of Hubbub. Whether you’re an advocate or only ever use it as a last resort, we’ve all been, at one time or another, in the socially confronting circumstance that is public transport. Hubbub, an all-female devised piece, is a series of inner monologues that address myriad musings on the situation.
The script fluctuates between theatrical monologues, vaguely beatnik poems, and quick-fire interjections, and, although the interactions between characters are few and far between, there is an ironic sense of cohesion in the individuality of the ensemble. The narrative, however, does wane at times due to the repetitive structure, and it’s at least 10 minutes too long, although director Cherie Moore does an excellent job of preventing the piece from stagnating entirely by executing the beats that do exist within the script. A fine line is toed between genuine inner monologues and exposition, though overall the performances drive the script through any weak spots.
Naomi Cohen, Moana McArtney, Willa Oliver, Hannah Paterson, and Alice Pearce all do an excellent job of putting the audience at ease with their affable naturalism and obvious pleasure in performing. Pearce sets the tone immediately, which comes full circle in her “this is for” speech, while Paterson lulls the audience into a false sense of security with a doe-eyed, breathy character who eventually presents the ugliest moment of the play. McArtney can afford to go further in her already hilarious Enya inspired rant. Oliver offers the strongest character, that is, by showing us how she feels about what she says and does. Cohen provides the most philosophical and relatable parts of the script, in regards to the social environment in which the play is presented, without getting too sentimental or carried away with the imagined weight of the words.
Staged end on, but in reverse of the traditional use of The Basement studio, the set (uncredited) is appropriately cramped while still having enough space for the actors to play, though the sides can afford to edge in where Amber Molloy’s lighting design cannot reach due to restrictions. Costumes are subtle yet distinct enough to distinguish the variety in the character, and the media element by Lisa Fothergill is not as intrusive as I first suspected it would be.
Hubbub isn’t ground-breaking theatre, but I don’t believe it’s in any way intended to be either. It’s a light-hearted, and sometimes surprisingly poignant, devised work, and, while I prefer theatre to be put pressure on its audience, there’s something quite pleasant about a show in which you feel comfortable enough to be flatulent.
Hubbub plays at The Basement until September 6. For details see The Basement.
SEE ALSO: Theatreview review by Lucy O’Connor