Ginger Hibiscus | Ginger Hibiscus | Hello Again at the Hope Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | Hello Again at the Hope Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | Hello Again at the Hope Theatre
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24 Oct REVIEW: Hello Again at the Hope Theatre



It’s generally considered a “dirty” word, even though the vast majority of us are only here today because of it. And despite the fact that most adults regularly – or at least sometimes – have sex, for centuries it’s been publicly suppressed and denied, a means of subjugation that breeds (no pun intended) fear and superstition for some, whilst being a source of unadulterated ecstasy for others. Through shifting societal norms, nudged onwards by the introduction of reliable contraception, the sexual revolution of the ‘60s, and the availability of free and plentiful pornography, attitudes to sex have been changing, and regardless of your opinion of these contributing factors, it’s clear that we’re feeling increasingly able to talk about it. People read erotic novels whilst commuting, swap bedroom tips in weekly magazines and there’s a sex scene in almost every movie aimed anyone over 15 – yet a lot of us still feel rather awkward talking about it – especially with people we don’t know.

Hello Again 01Enter: Michael John LaChuisa’s Hello Again, a vivid exploration of sexuality and attraction in the guise of a “cult musical,” a production that takes us between the sheets with a series of sexual encounters spanning the last century. Inspired by Arthur Schnitzler’s 1897 play La Ronde, the musical throws chronology to the wind as it leaps between moments in time, from a class-gap affair aboard the Titanic, through to a modern day senator’s liaison with a prostitute, all via a set of deliberately cliched characters fulfilling their deliberately cliched roles – “The Soldier,” “The Whore,” “ The Nurse,” and, “The Actress” to name just a few. With attitudes to sex and the power dynamics between lovers subtly altered each time, it presents an interesting look at lovemaking through the ages, between different people and in different situations.

Yet as a show that professes to explore human sexuality, Hello Again takes a rather superficial, stereotypical and safe standpoint, presenting a sexual spectrum that doesn’t come close to touching the more controversial, and fascinating aspects of sexuality, from mainstream engagement in BDSM and swinging, to activities more likely to be considered “deviant.” But to the same end it’s also noticeable that despite featuring more than one encounter between “committed” couples, from the way it’s portrayed you’d never believe that romance, passion and mutual respect are ever a feature of sex – rather, in most instances it’s something to be endured, not enjoyed, by at least one party. This, in itself, seems to cut out a whole universe of experience, and leaves a gaping hole in the aching pointlessness of it all.

Sidestepping niggles with the concept, the way Hello Again is brought to life is incredibly exciting, barely-there scenery (Andrea Marsden) doing just enough to evoke the essence of the decades, matched with gorgeous – but not OTT – costumes (Olivia Ward). Remarkably polished for a fringe show, the attention to detail is immaculate – you can tell a lot about a production by the scene changes, often clumsy and disjointed, but it speaks volumes for the care and attention that Hello Again has received that the shifts in scene are so graceful and well-rehearsed, a seamless process that swirls the whole theatre up and then down into another moment in time.

The Hope Theatre is bijoux to say the least, and currently adorned with a selection of undergarments that Ann Summers herself would be proud of, the size of the 50-seat space above The Hope and Anchor pub makes it an ideal venue for a show about one of the most intimate of human acts. But having an audience so physically close to the action comes with inherent challenges – namely that there’s nowhere to hide. Despite sex scene after sex scene, a distinct lack of on-stage chemistry leaves you acutely aware of the absence of authenticity, though it has to be said that in general the performances of the actors – notably Thea Jo Wolfe and Miles Western – do hold up incredibly well to such close scrutiny, and with each of the cast delivering such strong vocals in the face of a technically challenging score, it’s a joy to listen to as much as to watch.

Despite not having a storyline per se, the threads of each scene are so skilfully woven together in writing (LaChiusa) and direction (Azevedo) that Hello Again does, somehow all come together in the end. Who would have thought that such a relentless romp of bedroom escapades could be so strangely poetic?

For tickets and information:
Venue: The Hope Theatre
Dates: 20th October – 7th November
Images: Kristian Pirotta Photography

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
Okay, fine, but how many stars do you give it? Click here