Fear and fun. Fun and fear. Two simple emotions that are very effectively played upon by Watson’s show Go To Hell. Although not what one normally expects from an international comedy festival, this performance is certainly something different from the standard hour of stand up, making it quite a drawcard for comedy show-goers. Expect to be both frightened and amused.
If you only like stand-up comedy, then this show is not for you, as it is an actual play performed for the audience. This in many ways is quite refreshing, as it really makes for a strong point of difference from the abundance of stand-up out there. It was also nice to be able to sit back and enjoy a show that had a mixture of laughs and frights.
The venue was well chosen for this show. The Malthouse is a refurbished industrial building (an old brewery), and so there is that very Melbourne aesthetic of post-industrial bohemian-esque that works well. The play itself was more than just performers on stage, which created a very eerie yet amusing way to fully immerse the audience into the story.
On that note, the production values were stunning. Applause was rightly given by an enthusiastic audience to the design, lighting, and sound teams, who were able to effectively establish moods that were both terrifying and hilarious; people were actually shaking and huddling up to each other, whilst also in stitches when laughing. Cool props and visual effects were also employed, which really added to the feel of the performance, and to its professionalism.
The play was almost disconcerting in regards to how it swung from frightening to hilarious. This could leave the audience a little bewildered at times, but overall the effect was both chilling and uplifting. And, like any good comedy, you end up leaving feeling lighter than how you went in. Although some advice if you really want to enjoy the play: read really bad creepypastas online. I will say no more on the matter, but knowledge of those will definitely enhance enjoyment of the play.
Something that unfortunately seems to be a recurring theme in the comedy festival this year – poor audience etiquette. You shouldn’t be going to a show if all you are going to do is sit there and giggle at the things your friend whispers to you, not the show itself. Comedy shows make for a great date idea, but please, keep the canoodling quiet. But by far the largest faux pas was someone’s phone going off at a particularly poignant moment during the show. The performers managed to recover with grace and humour, but it did take the audience out of the show.
Overall, a solid play. Despite some of the above mentioned teething problems, it certainly made for an interesting and enjoyable night out. If you enjoy horror and laughs, or even if you just enjoy watching good, well produced plays, then Go To Hell performed by Watson is definitely for you.
Watson Go to Hell! is on at the Malthouse at 9:30 pm as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival until 23 April, no shows on Mondays. Tickets are available online or at the Malthouse box office.