Fringe Review: Louise Reay - Hard Mode

Words by Nathan King

Chinese Democracy at its very best.

In Louise Reay: Hard Mode the UK sketch artist Louise Reay delivers a thought driven narrative riddled with impersonations, topical humour, a secret police force and vital lesson on censorship.

Reay’s season at this years Adelaide Fringe Festival is in the helm of the 4th iteration of the iconic Tuxedo Cat, currently situated at the former Telecom-Trust heritage listed building on the corner of Franklin and King William Street. For her season this year she is in the former basement used as a storage space, which plays into her setting of her underlying theme of censorship as you are escorted into the stage room with masked secret police standing silently in the theatre. Primarily dealing with the state censorship of the Chinese Government, an audience member could apply this to any other instance of censorship and still come to the same outlying theme and message of the show.

Early in the show the secret police - to emphasis the point of the audience feeling submissive - pirouette through the audience to ID everyone. After such, all in attendance are given white bibs to wear thoughout the show and promptly restricted, though not bound, to their chairs with barrier tape. Then out of the dark the audience is told it is the year 2020 and the BBC has been bought by the Chinese Government and as such the illustrious Last Night of the Proms has been moved to China and the audience is in fact playing the part of the BBC orchestra.

Always light-hearted and with a splendidly outlandish narrative Reay manages to convey the ideology of censorship to the audience and the oppression it entails without ever leering into an overtly dark tone. As such the audience is left feeling involved, educated and most importantly, outstandingly amused.  

You can catch Louise Reay: Hard Mode at Tuxedo Cat from the 4th to the 19th of March. Tickets and more info via FringeTix