Hook Turn by Kin Collective

By Lisa Clark hook Turn

I’ve seen a lot of sketch comedy in my time but here was something intriguing, sketch drama. With two Queens of Melbourne comedy involved, Marg Downey and Michala Banas it’s not surprising that I traipsed out of the comedy section again to check this one out. Well there was a lot less comedy than I’d hoped for, but Hook Turn was a great show none the less.

Another thing that attracted me was the hook turn of the title, this uniquely Melbourne road rule that means cars have to keep left to turn right, so that trams can get through intersections can look like a beautiful ballet when done correctly. I’ve seen a family of Canadian tourists watch one in awe as their dad pointed out how it worked. But they are rare and tricky and even I was caught out once not noticing that the intersection I was in required one. Luckily it was very late and the roads were clear but in the crux of this play is an accident that occurs.

Of course the Hook Turn is used as a metaphor for the characters situations but it gradually appears that all the disparate characters were somehow involved in an accident involving a tram at a hook turn. Some scenes more so than others; such as in the one with actress running slightly late for her performance because of an accident, to the more seriously involved as revealed later. It may be inadvertent (as it were) and the hook turn incidents not actually be connected, just a running theme that the performers riffed off, but that is the perception I was left with.

The sketches are all solo actor character pieces and each manages to paint a picture of a particular place in Melbourne. “5 minutes Until Beginners” (Marg Downey) and “Private Driver” are the most amusing, with Christopher Bunworth of the latter employing some standup techniques, breaking the fourth wall and asking for some light audience interaction from a member who becomes a small part of the piece. It works well and welcomes the audience into the work. The highlight for me was “It Starts With a Tree” by Keith Brockett because it tackled truly complex themes so intelligently, delicately and beautifully, portraying them physically as well, which lets face it, is what theatre does best. An Asian man (Keith Brockett) is reading a letter on a tram that gradually becomes more packed with people. He doesn’t speak, instead we hear the voice of the letter writer (Ally Fowler) who’s beautiful letter dripping with warm nostalgia about a changing city gradually turns dark as the people in the tram start becoming uncomfortably close and overbearing. It surprised me by unexpectedly moving me to tears. “Judgement Days” (by Carl Sorheim) was about the downfall of an odious high flyer (performed by Dylan Watson) and his relationship with his dad and “Motherless Melbourne” was a show stopping two hander by Mark Diako set in a nightclub queue about acceptance, but became a bit didactic, underestimating the intelligence of the audience somewhat. The closing monologue about motherhood, “Shoe Laces”, performed by Michala Banas would not leave a dry eye in the house.

It was beautiful but a pity to end on such a dark note, leaving the sadness to linger as we parted, but it did feel like we’d been on a journey. A great little play, like an album of photos that make a bigger picture and an ensemble of actors who each shine in their own piece. More drama than comedy but a fringe performance that’s certainly worth the experience.

Hook Turn is on at The North Melbourne Town Hall

For information and tickets https://www.melbournefringe.com.au/program/event/view/21445f13-daef-4358-bcaa-33ce64ad25e7