REVIEW: Tomás Ford’s Chase! (Auckland Fringe)

Review by Tim George

Tomás Ford

[Speed on Stage]

A fast-moving blend of singing, ranting and waterboarding, Tomás Ford’s Chase! is like a fever dream during a drive-in movie.

Framed in front of two large screens, secret agent Tomás Ford (Tomás Ford) regales the audience with the story of his chase around the globe to locate the woman he loves.

Behind our psychopathic anti-hero, black and white footage flickers across the screens. A mix of media clips, music videos and Ford’s own filmed sequences, the screens act as a reflection of Ford’s subconscious, as unpleasant memories and fantasies bubble to the surface.

These monochromatic segments, shot by Ford himself, show our hero’s escapades on the streets of Singapore, Kuala Lumpar and various other international locations, and add a weird sense of verisimilitude to the show. While the show is pitched (initially) as a Bondian caper, these sequences don’t resemble classic spy thrillers so much as they do low budget post-noirs like Murder by Contract and Blast of Silence, which share Ford’s focus on a singular hatchet man.

The interplay between Ford and this ever-shifting backdrop is very effective. While the titular character croons about his love of torture, images of his latest victim flash across the screens behind him. It’s like being trapped inside James Bond’s head after a weekend bender.

As well as the multi-media component, the show features a high level of audience participation. The Q Vault’s intimate space is an asset here, as it allows Ford to get amongst the patrons and make them a part of the action – whether to help re-enact a fight he had with some back alley thugs, share photographs of his beloved, or get verbally abused under a sheet. This show is not a passive experience.

The finale is the show’s highpoint. To re-create the tension of Ford’s showdown with the villain, he brings the audience into the show with a hi-octane game of hot potato — with a gun in place of the potato, and Ford trying to wrestle it back while singing ‘Where is the gun?’

If you like songs about broken hearts, fist fights and screaming white men, Thomás Ford’s Chase is the show for you.

Tomás Ford’s Chase! plays as part of the Auckland Fringe until 4 March. Details see Q

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