Review: Hutchy the Hare, VAULT Festival

It may contain a laugh which is the sound of nightmares but Hutchy the Hare is marvellously effective at VAULT Festival

“Hopes! Dreams! This isn’t going to end well…”

The theys and thems of Scram and Scrum Theatre brightened up Week 4 of the 2023 VAULT Festival with the excellent and thought-provoking An Apology to Lady Gaga but as we hit the final week and they return with Hutchy the Hare, I’m thinking it should be me that gets the apology for having the sound of a week’s worth of nightmares drilled into my brain!

Hutchy the Hare is a fantastically warped affair. Correctly assessing that there’s something innately creepy about a certain vein of children TV shows from years past, and then marrying that with an outright horror story, this is a show that finds your nerves and then mercilessly plucks them. And as it blends film inserts with live theatre, it proves to be disconcertingly effective.

We first meet three brightly boilersuited chirpy chaps making high end fashion items, but soon come to realise this is no atelier but a sweatshop ruled by a menacing presence. And that chirpiness is a coping mechanism to distract from horrors which are not long untold. Cut to black and recordings of TV show Hutchy the Hare play onscreen, with yet more chirpy young’uns and a growing sense of unease as the titular character hops his way over our comfort zones.

To say much more would be to rob you of the chance of being creeped out to the fullest degree. But suffice to say Ed Cooke’s writing is wickedly twisted and Giulia Hallworth’s direction brings it to life with incisive force. The detail here is magnificent – the out-of-sync audio on the video, the wild-eyed choreography, but that laugh…oh, that heinous honking…it perfectly (and chillingly) straddles the line between child-like innocence and Jimmy Savile, before tipping its hat the only way you know this is going to end. Prepare to be haunted by its sound but thrilled by this show.

Running time: 60 minutes (without interval)
Hutchy the Hare is booking at VAULT Festival until 19th March

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