It is probably a good sign you’re engaged with a performance if you plan on staying for 20 minutes only to leave 3 hours later. From election speeches, to a mother-child fight at dinner, a street fundraiser integrating a reluctant passerby to a shopping channel presenter; Action Hero presents us with interwoven confrontation that challenges different relationships we all face. Reality seeps in and out of the 6 hour conversation with snippets anyone can recognise. Eat the raisins. No. Why don’t I mix the ice cream and this banana and it’ll be a delicious dessert. I don’t like ice cream. With the beautiful setting of the newly opened Grand Hall at The Whitworth, the performer’s voices transcend and envelop the space into something other worldly. We could be at an inaugural speech, a church, we could be in outer space as a star or a microcosm.
Although I couldn’t make it to the very end, I felt as though time was completely swept away from me, as each section blended seamlessly into the next. I look around me and it turns out a lot of people felt the same. After an hour or two, I would see that many people were still there, transfixed by the struggle, the humour and the intense (although indirect) eye contact we all have with the performers. As part of Manchester’s SICK! festival, the piece continues the festival’s themes of confronting issues society often dismisses or talks about publicly. We shy away from issues that truly terrify us, but do not affect us directly. Similarly to La Ribot’s Laughing Hole also at the Whitworth, we watch and laugh but mostly out of awkwardness as no one know how to react to such confrontation. An interesting take on SICK!’s themes, and visually very powerful.