Two Man Tarantino

Two Man Tarantino
Written by Christopher Wayne and Maureen Bowra. Directed by Maureen Bowra. Presented by Christopher Wayne. Visy Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse, Wonderland Festival, 29 November – 2 December, 2018

Theatre producers often grapple with the task of attracting TV and cinema lovers off the couch and away from the dreaded Netflix. Two Man Tarantino is one of those concepts that’s designed to get those bums on seats. It’s energetic, pacey and superficially entertaining comedic work.

The narrative doesn’t seek to innovate. It involves a video store owner and his customer. Both characters are facing life-altering endings in their lives; for him, it’s the closing day of the last video store in town and he’s now out of work; for the customer, it’s the end of a bad relationship and her last day before she moves out of town. They bond over a shared love of Tarantino movies, get drunk together and act out their favourite scenes. While the narrative sounds like a classic romantic comedy, it winds up focusing more on the comedy and less on any subplot of romance.

The script by producer Christopher Wayne and director and co-writer Maureen Bowra relies heavily on the audience’s eagerness to laugh at their own ability to recognise verbatim segments of Tarantino films. Unlike the very clever and hilarious Act/React productions Speed: the Movie the Play and Titanic: the Movie the Play from Wonderland Festivals past, Two Man Tarantino lacks insightful satire. Instead it merely parodies the accents and acting styles of the original casts of the films. Luckily that’s enough to delight the novice theatre-goers in the crowd. They roar with laughter at every silly accent and makeshift prop.

Much of the enjoyment is due to Maureen Bowra’s playful direction. The blocking is exciting and well executed, revealing these kidult characters’ joy as they revel in their re-enactments. Use of the set, stage and props is imaginative. Sound and lighting is effective and the low-budget special effects work well. Tarantino fans aren’t disappointed with regards to blood spray, especially those sitting in the ‘splash zone’ (never fear, plastic protective sheets are provided). The narrative momentum drops a bit in the lengthy Death Proof and Kill Bill segments, but the outstanding stage fighting saves the day. It’s superbly choreographed and realised.

The two stars of the show put great effort into their work. Stephen Hirst as the video store owner is down-to-earth and believable in his emotional work. Emily Kristopher as the customer shows good risk-taking and commitment. Both are likeable and comfortable in the space. Their parodies of actors such as Travolta, Jackson and Walken (to name a few) range from brilliantly accurate to somewhat sketchy. Either way it’s fun to watch them try their hands at the accents and mannerisms.

Two Man Tarantino is a light-hearted bit of escapism that’s guaranteed to appeal to fans of the auteur. This is easy to comprehend and digest theatre, performed skilfully by passionate artists who are keen to impress.

Kiesten McCauley 

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