Calgary Fringe – Peter ‘n Chris and the Hungry Heart Motel – Review

Peter 'n Chris and the Hungry Heart Motel

Peter ‘n Chris and the Hungry Heart Motel

August 4 to 9, 2012

Lantern Church Gym

http://see.calgaryfringe.ca/events/357-peter-n-chris-save-the-world

 

It’s campy, spoofy, wildly physical and thanks to the talents of its two stars, lots of fun. Peter ‘n Chris and the Hungry Heart Motel is one of those perfectly silly shows that’s just smart enough to be taken seriously and enjoyed.

The show begins with a decrepit elderly male narrator (played by Peter) greeting us and promising that what we are about to witness is a very creepy story of murder. The setting he explains is the Hungry Heart Motel,” where some say the motel manager does all the murdering and the others say nothing because they are murdered”. Yes, he says, he may have just ruined the plot for us, but hold onto your hats because we are going to enjoy the ride even though we now know ‘who done it.’

It’s a clever set up for a send-up of every horror/suspense movie you’ve ever seen and the writing takes aim at not only the familiar tropes, but at some of the classic scenarios we’ve come to know and love from Nicholson’s insanity in The Shining to the shower scene in Psycho.

This is all done via the story of Peter and Chris who decide to drive somewhere only to be stranded in a car crash. Anyone who has seen a slasher flick knows that this is when all the good stuff starts, but in this show, the drive itself is well worth a ticket. The duo’s incredible physical performance in these scenes which range from pure mime to slo-mo farce to one of the best fast forward mimics I’ve ever seen, takes corporal humour to a level way above slapstick and elevates it into stupendously clever wordless storytelling.

But back to the motel. The pair checks in with the murderous manager (played by Chris) and are shown to a room with one tiny bed stained in blood. Sensing that something is amiss, Chris claims to have the heebie-jeebies (believe me, you’ve never seen them presented in this fashion) but they decide to stay put as Peter loves a good mystery and is determined to figure out what the story is with the odd motel. Spoofs abound, murders happen, the pair goes through all the clichéd paces of the typical slasher film with both the required innocence of a real horror movie and sarcastic observances of a spoof, leaving us laughing with and at them the entire time.

Even as we are giggling however, it’s not hard to see that the writing, while clever and fun, is not the real source of our delight. That accolade goes directly to the two men up on stage whose comedic, spot-on timing, charisma, obvious enjoyment of the process and each other and pure physical performance is the real reason this show works. Take the boys out of the show and I think no one would have had as good a time. Give them richer material and I have no doubt that their talent would shine even brighter.

 

RATING

For the guys – Admit it, you may watch horror flicks, but you know how silly they are. Here’s a chance to watch two very talented guys hysterically and smartly shred the genre while still paying homage to all that’s great about these kinds of movies. SEE IT

For the girls – Even if you hate slasher films, the duo is so endearingly funny, with so much to say about suspense films that you can’t help but laugh. SEE IT

For the occasional theatre goer – Simple, silly, very funny, well performed. The perfect Fringe show to sit back and enjoy. SEE IT

For the theatre junkie – Yes, these kinds of spoofs have been done before. But probably not this well and certainly not with the talent these two show on stage. SEE IT

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