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March 9, 2009 | by  | in Theatre |
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In the late nineteenth century Joseph Hatch, former mayor of Invercargill, killed a lot of penguins. He boiled them and sold their oil. After numerous mishaps and some loss of life, both human and penguin, the government revoked his licence. In Hatch we are party to a recreation to a slideshow he took across the country pleading his case.

Hatch is full of really jarring changes of tone; it goes from mild humour (which I found quite unfunny, but the rest of the audience disagreed with me), to maudlin levels of self-pity. Hatch swings wildly between directly condemning the character and demanding the audience pity him.

Stuart Devenie gives what I assumed was a good performance having a bad night. What should have been moments of reflection and emotion became little more than dead air. He is, by all accounts, a very talented actor. He just seems ill at ease within this role. He declaims his lines more than speaks them; when the character makes a mistake it feels sterile and planned rather than spontaneous and live as it should.

Hatch never really seems to decide what its relationship with its audience really is. Hatch himself enters through the same door as the audience, but then sets up, oblivious to our presences before swiftly seeing us there. Tony Rabbit’s lighting shifts from naturalistic to a painfully arch blue lighting during the “sad” moments in a gratingly manipulative self-conscious move. There is also an unnecessarily ugly spill from the lights on sides of the stage. Colin McColl’s direction is workable but riddled with odd flaws. The performance space keeps being needlessly redefined with Hatch breaking previously established barriers. Denise Hosty’s costume is apt and well executed. Also worthy of praise is Devenie’s facial hair, which is astonishingly hypnotic.

Hatch is theatrical tapioca. Coloured ever so unvividly grey, it is bland, inoffensive. A palette cleanser between meatier theatrical meals. It’s not wonderful, it’s not terrible. It won’t break your heart, it won’t change your life, it won’t make you shake with rage or shiver with joy. Not caring is hard to do but Hatch makes it easy. But it is worth remembering that the opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference.

Written by Geoff Chapple
Directed by Colin McColl

With Stuart Devenie

3–21 March 2009 at Circa Two.

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About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

Comments (2)

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  1. Max Hardy says:

    Uther. You are wrong.

  2. Uther Dean says:

    Penguins hate you, Max.

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