Hey Ref! when sport is both funny and a little bit pathetic - Hoke's Bluff. Pic Paul Blakemore
Hey Ref! when sport is both funny and a little bit pathetic – Hoke’s Bluff. Pic Paul Blakemore

Hoke’s Bluff. Bristol Old Vic Studio Theatre

Welcome to Cat Country where Tyler is having trouble at releasing the ball for team Wild Cats. Exactly what sport he’s playing is irrelevant in this bitter-sweet part send-up and part celebration of the language and attitudes of small town American sport. It was all played out on a traverse stage without an American accent. It didn’t matter as Gemma Paintin as Connie and James Stenhouse as Tyler, gave it their all playing multiple characters depicting the coaches, the cheerleaders and the players in the red and yellow sporting world of Hoke’s Bluff.

It’s witty, original and poetic, performed by a cast of three with much physical theatre and mime to create the movement of sport and along with the atmosphere with loud rock music, popcorn, flags and pom-pom razzamatazz that wouldn’t be out of place at Ashton Gate.

Laura Dannequin underused as the referee gave a committed performance breaking the dialogue and action with her whistle and explanations of the various transgressions in the imagined games. Paintin’s rant at the referee’s rulings was one of the enjoyable highlights of a play that contained several emotional climaxes even if at times the narrative wasn’t always that clear in a production of many voices. Its strength was the writing with its lists of modern cultural references and its satire of sporting jargon that kept the audience chuckling to the final whistle.

Three Stars  Reviewed on 8th October 2014

Harry Mottram

The show is on tour until the week of 10th December 2014. For tour dates and venues: http://www.actionhero.org.uk/events/