Hokes Bluff (Tour-Bristol Old Vic)

Hoke’s Bluff is intermittently entertaining but is as satisfying as the popcorn that comes with the show.

Hoke's Bluff
Hoke's Bluff
© Action Hero

For the first and probably last time in the theatre I consumed popcorn as I watched Action Hero’s Hoke's Bluff. There were no disgruntled actors annoyed by my rustling hand, no tutting audience members; it was sold to me by the cheerleader before the game -sorry play (and at fifty pence-a damn sight cheaper then the multiplex offerings ). Hoke's Bluff explores American culture over the course of 80 minutes, honing in on the theme of high school sports movies with their themes of winning and losing, about finding your identity to give an intermittently entertaining but ultimately, like the popcorn rather empty experience; you’re full but not satisfied. But maybe this is the point?

Sometimes you just have to hold your hand up and say you don’t get it. That though I have watched my fair share of American teen/sports/romance movies, listened to enough American music, consumed the culture pretty much every day since birth, the point of the play sailed squarely over my head.

The Action Hero team, Gemma Painton, the cheerleader, blonde, wide smile and perky and James Stenhouse tall, gangly, archetypal school sporting star before he finds the weights and guest artist Laura Danequin as the football (not of the soccer variety) referee prone to short, sharp blasts of her whistle to signify the end of the scene and mechanical speeches of football rules and regulations as though she has been flown in from Beckett’s Not I keep things entertaining though the piece as a whole could do with some pruning. Even at eighty minutes the patience stretches a little.

There’s plenty in here to like, the soundtrack, likeable performancers and a performance text doused in smart American culture. Ultimately though I left feeling no wiser then when I went in. Like any number of Hollywood movies it passed the time without really penetrating beyond the surface