I’ve been thinking lately that there should be more of a cross-over between sport and art, and so I was very excited at the prospect of seeing Gemma Paintin’s and James Stenhouse’s parody of American High School sport – expressing the pleasures, pressures, banality and meaning wrapped up in a game of basketball/baseball/hockey/football.
The show was as hilarious as it was intelligent, spurring on the audience with T-Shirt guns and popcorn whilst demonstrating the draining psychological effects of having an entire town’s expectations weighing on one sportsman’s ability to throw a ball.
Whilst the focus was admittedly on a male sportsman’s performance, there was also the constant presence of Gemma Paintin’s cheerleader – attempting to figure out her place in the pageant of male sports, feeling that she came second to the team, second to the ball, second to Tyler.
Tellingly, meaningful thoughts such as these were often sharply cut off by the omnipresent referee, jerking the performance back into the ‘reality’ of match rules, regulations and penalties.
All three of the actor’s performances were spot on, delivering lines with an absence of dramatised emotion, again highlighting the often absurd nature of sporting culture.
This is the perfect show for anyone that has been involved in the highs and lows of sporting competition, whether they are players or spectators. Hoke’s Bluff has its final performance at Bristol Old Vic tonight (Saturday) at 8pm, tickets are £12/£8.
Book tickets and watch a trailer for Hoke’s Bluff here.