Who: Gritty City Theatre
Length: 33 Minutes
Where: Hamilton Fringe Festival Digital Exclusives Series
When: July 15-25, 2021
Tickets: From $5 -$20 via the Hamilton Fringe Festival Box Office
Gritty City Theatre’s Hammered asks audiences to suspend their disbelief enough to envision increasing fascism and being stuck inside for a year due to a global crisis. If these issues ring a bell, it isn’t by mistake. Writer Melissa Murray-Mutch took inspiration from the recent news cycle for this 30-odd minute production about a couple who have just moved into a new home only to find themselves prisoners within its walls as tensions (and an increasingly powerful racist organization) rise outside.
Murray-Mutch, who also plays one half of the couple at the centre of this show, gives a refreshingly organic, grounded performance. As Hammered progresses and the couple are forced into the monotony of a life in hiding, conflicts within their home begin to rival those outside. Murray-Mutch’s character wants to take action, while her husband, played by Jason Hugh Thompson, would rather a more passive approach. These stances are given nuance by the fact that Murray-Mutch is a black woman and Thompson a white man. Because it’s a racist group wreaking the apocalyptic havoc in the outer world, these disparate reactions could easily act as a parallel to the way different communities have historically responded to acts of racism.
Though billed as a comedy, the humour doesn’t fully arrive until the addition of John-Riley O’Handley, who plays Thompson’s frat boy brother with such endearing perfection it’s impossible not to at least crack a smile from his performance.
Hammered explores some important issues, and its claustrophobic atmosphere is one many will be able to relate to after the past year and a half. Though the pacing may drag a bit in the first half, the introduction of a new character and plot twist midway give this show the jolt of energy it needs.