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Hunch, written and performed by Kate Kennedy | Review

Hunch - courtesy of Libby Burke-Wilde
Hunch – courtesy of Libby Burke-Wilde

“I have no words”, says Una Balloona (Kate Kennedy), which is fine if that’s a reaction to an unexpected event. It is not, to the blunt, the best way to begin a show, especially when the show in question, Hunch, ends up being incredibly – well, wordy. As I understand it, Una likes routines, and when those routines are disrupted, there are immediate stomach cramps. This does not immediately put Una on the autism spectrum, though at face value some other behaviours exhibited, particularly when out and about, suggest significant difficulty in making sense of the world at large. Given the task of picking for herself what she would like to eat, the task proves overwhelming, resulting in a bizarre outburst.

There are various coping strategies, but the one focused on in this production is the assuming the role of superhero Hunch (hence the show’s title). Hunch isn’t the only superhero – there’s also Genitals, Head, Heart and Hack. There may have been others, but frankly, I had trouble maintaining interest: whatever their names, at the end of the day, they possess superpowers, and between them they ought to accomplish quite a lot. Do they? It’s hard to tell.

Kate Kennedy does very well to voice all of the characters. When Hunch needs some assistance, there are all sorts of caveats and reasons why Hunch’s desire cannot be realised. This actually makes me question whether these can even be reasonably called ‘superheroes’. Further, the plotline is a bit of a mess, and there were moments when I simply did not know what was happening, let alone why. There is a certain charm in the randomness of proceedings, however: going with one’s gut feelings can have unintended consequences. I am also not entirely in agreement that going with gut feelings is always the best way to go – surely a quick Google search at the very least would come in handy when it comes to looking things up in order to make a somewhat informed decision.

Lots of details are included but with such an elaborate plot, it is difficult to see how everything fits together. The show is set in the city of Hum, and its citizens are able to summon superheroes to make decisions for them. Naturally, given that the superheroes become, in effect, labour-saving devices, they are used quite frequently. The irony is at least crystal clear, that someone who struggles to make decisions for herself has this other-worldliness in which she makes decisions for others. It has some practical applications – like consultants who are employed by a corporate firm looking to make redundancies, so that internal management are not making the actual decisions themselves as to which jobs should be put at risk.

Hunch does raise an important point, to be fair – there’s little point being able to travel through time or raise the dead (or whatever), unless one first has the ability to determine what is the ‘right’ thing to do. An interesting if confusing production.

3 Star Review

Review by Chris Comaweng

Hunch is a story about following your gut. We’re drawn to decision-makers in a world saturated with information and negativity but the ability to make a decision doesn’t necessarily make it the right one. Just as you can’t steal or copy gut feelings, you can’t impose yours on somebody else. Hunch is a play about purpose and about being needed. This funny and heartfelt piece celebrates the individual and restores one’s faith in oneself while teaching us that, more often than not, our own gut feeling is right.

In the wake of a couple of difficult years, politically and socially, Kennedy considered how, whenever there’s a turn for the worse, or something tragic happens out of the blue, we turn to somebody who has the answers. We want solutions. Unfortunately, the answer to the vast majority of things is unknown and everyone is winging it.

Twitter @dugouttheatre, @katekenners, @AssemblyFest, #Hunch
Notes Ages 14+

Hunch
Performance Dates Wednesday 1st – Monday 27th August (not 13th), 17:05
Running time 60 minutes
Location Assembly Roxy (Downstairs), 2 Roxburgh Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9SU
Writer/Performer Kate Kennedy
Director/Dramaturg Sara Joyce
Producer Milly Smith for DugOut Theatre
Designer Max Dorey
Sound Designer Max Perryment
https://www.assemblyfestival.com/

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