Headlines break when the famous Natalie Darkins is found days after going AWOL. Due to a cleverly crafted story featuring an abusive ex, the party girl becomes the media’s object of interest. Hot Property features a strong cast and for what it perhaps lacks in depth, it makes up for in laughs. At the Etcetera Theatre.
Headlines break when the famous Natalie Darkins is found days after going AWOL. Due to a cleverly crafted story featuring an abusive ex, the party girl becomes the media’s hot property. Despite possessing only one talent, which is the ability to down copious amounts of alcohol until unconscious, Natalie is somehow sculpted into a role model and placed on a pedestal as the new shiny beacon of hope.
Such fabrications are engineered by unscrupulous producer, Claudia, who’s quite happy to sell her soul – and everyone else’s – in order to commission a new reality TV show featuring, of course, Natalie Darkins. In order to improve ratings, the ruthless, media-obsessed producer grabs every opportunity to climb any available social ladder, even if that means treading on and breaking others on the way up. In this modern day world, it’s imperative that people have someone to believe in – it’s in the public’s best interest to have a role model, someone they can aspire to, look up to… so one person isn’t such a huge sacrifice, right?
Hot Property features a strong cast of five. Georgina Morrell is excellent as debauched C-lister, Natalie Darkins. Many of her poses, facial expressions, emphatic gestures – in fact, her whole aura screams I’m a Celebrity, Get Me in Here. Morrell’s characterisation is a carbon-copy of the “celebrities” featured in the pictures we see splashed over the glossies, depicting all sorts of naughty. Morrell does a good job of creating a character you love to hate, and hate to love – a pretty accurate reflection of the self-obsessed media-whores that feature in the daily news agendas.
Pip Gladwin gets his fair share of laughs as genuinely good guy, Rob. The actor’s doughy eyes and teddy-bear-esque ways, combined with a general sense of adorable awkwardness, make for some very funny moments. Bespectacled sexually-charged geek, Annette, is played enthusiastically and energetically by Leanna Wiggington. The character does seem to feature as a bit of an unnecessary sidekick, but Wiggington carries it well and injects even more humour into the play. Joanna McCarthy’s portrayal of Beth is believable, natural and feels like a breath of fresh air compared to the other highly-strung female characters… which brings me onto the ever-so-well-connected Claudia. Tracey Pickup hits – or rather slams the “manipulative” button square on the head. Cold and calculated, the character is well-conceived, if a little one-dimensional and stereotypical – but perhaps that’s down to the writing.
Essentially, Matthew Randle’s play is about homogeneous stereotypes and invented stories that only ever focus on the surface-layer of the lives in question (mirroring the hags and wags in our daily rags and mags), so this lack of depth could be intentional. The writing style can be seen as another reflection of our celebrity-obsessed and morally-challenged culture. Hot Property is a funny and entertaining story that’s well told, but many of the messages contained within the play have been explored before. It’s not a piece of writing that really gets you thinking… but I guess it doesn’t have to be. On a personal level, I’d have preferred a little more substance and multidimensionality, but overall, it’s a quirky show and you’ll have a good night and a few belly laughs to boot.