Hey You! | Review
Accidental Theatre, Wellington Buildings • Friday 11 November ’16
By Gerard Walton
We’ve all seen, and perhaps even clicked on, one of those intrusive pop-up ads that infest the great wide web. Imagine that in the form of a seminar or an infomercial. Yes, you too can leave your mediocre life behind and be like Arnie – become ripped, become a successful politician, become EVERYTHING. All for the low, low price of actually quite a lot of money. But it’s worth it, because listen to that guy who looks suspiciously like the salesman’s brother or friend, and his glowing testimonial.
Hey You, written by Joseph Nawaz, directed by Emily Foran and performed by Aaron Hickland, is a wonderful comic distillation of that sort of hyper-aggressive, over-masculine, American self-help marketing that will always exist in some shape or form. The show starts off with a half-dressed Brad Peelawn, in what appears to be his dressing room, pumping himself up, practicing his lines in front of a mirror, before he bounds out, runs around the room high-fiving the audience.
What follows is a brilliantly manic ride, as Brad promises the packed Accidental Theatre he can help you rid yourself of excess belly fat and maximise the Master Male Hormone or, as he makes the crowd say, after some cajoling, “MMH”, as if you are eating a delicious meal! The implication being, from one of the many well-utilised stills, that you can not only transform your body mass but your entire ethnicity. That is a powerful treatment, wouldn’t you say?
The room was subject to a Net Evaluation of eating habits, breakfast to be precise, which included a literal net – possibly to catch all that excess body fat. Ulster Fry? No, no, no! You need a strict testosterone-raising regime if you want to get that perfect “woman-pleasing libido.” And that’s pronounced the proper American way – la-BUY-do.
One way to achieve this masculine perfection is apparently to follow the 24-carat diet, which a video diary depicts being confused for 24 carrots. In the clip has made it to 23 carrots. His night-vision is not tested in this, but the encroaching madness is a clue to perhaps not try an all-carrot diet at home!
Of course, behind this industry always lurks a certain darkness – “Get the body you think you deserve and probably don’t!” These sales campaigns perfectly embody the macho-man self-bullying that pervades in parts of Western society. Watch Alec Baldwin’s show-stopping rant in Glengarry Glen Ross scene for an ideal companion piece to this.
Brad Peelawn is no exception to this. After inviting the unsuspecting Michael to the stage, and poking fun at his “Spanish”-sounding name, the true mask slips. Michael is invited to share with the audience his problems with low testosterone levels and how his life is such a struggle. Makes sense, right? Brad is everyone’s Messiah, especially those who don’t realise it yet. Soon enough, Brad’s own mask slips and the abandonment issues rooted in a much younger self come pouring out.
Hey You is incisive, and cuts to the root of that self-help advertising tendency – the worse you make the person feel, the more they want your product, yet even those pushing the product are often running from their own demons. As Brad himself says, “What’s disgusting in the mirror looks even worse in real life!”
The whole thing was brilliantly performed by Aaron, written by Joseph, directed by Emily, and the Accidental Theatre themselves are great hosts. Be sure to return as they have many must-see events coming up!