Following a successful run at this year’s New Zealand Comedy Festival, Laura Daniel and Joseph Moore have brought their hit musical comedy Two Hearts back for another season.
Maybe it’s a sign of my accelerating decrepitude, but for about the first half of the show I was not really feeling this one. And it has a lot to do with the show’s reliance on self-referential jokes picking apart the show. Now the show is supposed to be a send-up of the ego and superficial humanitarianism of contemporary pop music, so a certain level of winking at the audience is to be expected. But the unrelenting flow of cheap, easy gags gets exhausting.
Most of the repartee between the stars is based on jokes which are meant to be funny simply because Daniel and Moore point them out (an unnecessary production expense; a song’s obvious subtext; an overly-sexualised costume). There are two problems with this approach: there are way too many in-jokes, and most of these jokes are so obvious they do not need to be pointed out.
Every time the music stopped for these exchanges, I was staring at the ceiling. Thankfully, most of the show was taken up with the music, which is where Two Hearts comes to life.
Two of the songs especially stand out. One is a brutally earnest piano ballad where the lyrics equate love with Alan Rickman. The other highlight is a female empowerment anthem undermined by Laura Daniel’s grudge against some woman named Sarah. Both songs are funny because while they are dumb and petty, there is no one jabbing you in the ribs to remind you that they are petty and dumb.
The production side of the show is really good. The music perfectly captures the mindless, soulless electronica that defines the pop music of the last decade, and the stage show matches the vacuousness of the music with blinding, repetitive strobe effects. For me it was one of the funniest aspects of the show – I went to a concert earlier this year that was eerily close to Two Hearts, and those people were taking it seriously.
When it presents its material with a straight face, Two Hearts is a good time. When it doesn’t, it is a bit of a slog.
Two Hearts plays at Q until 16 December.