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Hot Property, Etcetera Theatre

Written and Directed by Matthew Randle

★★★
Pros: A funny and intriguing storyline with plenty of belly laughs. Some quirky ideas and very decent performances that will keep you happy and satisfied. Good teamwork on stage.
Cons: Very simple props and staging and some rushed transitions make it feel a tad bare.
Our Verdict: A very enjoyable night out with some good laughs and a satirical take on modern reality-TV obsessed society.
Courtesy of OffWestEnd.Com
Ever wondered what would happen if you had a drunken celebrity to stay for a few days? Well, if the celebrity in question is Natalie Darkins, the fictitious C-list actress of glossy magazines and reality TV show fame, then you will be guaranteed a few empty bottles, lots of drama and the chance to feature in the very next Big Brother!
Hot Property starts with actress wannabe Beth (Joanna McCarthy) returning home to her ‘Mr Good Guy’ flatmate Rob (Pip Gladwin) to find that her spare bedroom has been populated by the (in)famous Natalie (Georgina Morrell). As the two get to know the real Natalie however, it becomes too late to stop the hilarious sequence of events that will inevitably follow once the sharp-nosed TV producer Claudia (Tracey Pickup) gets her hands on the big news. “This is how we will do it” she commands, luring the group into a breaking news reality show where Natalie suddenly becomes the new hero of feminist independence, running away from the dreadful abuses of her violent boyfriend. A few bottles later and it’s all too clear that she may not be so innocent herself… 
From then on it’s a tweeting and trending affair, with dramatic turns of reality and fabricated truths being used to milk as much audience share as possible out of an increasingly confused group where only Claudia seems to always know what needs to be done next. Too bad if this means a few people are going to get hurt along the way!
Georgina Morrell is great in her diva role. Every catwalk move screams of celebrity on a hangover and her pretentious sexiness and narcissistic attention-grabbing is just spot on. She is hilarious in her shorts and fur, tripping over as she tries to woo her saviour Rob with champagne in one hand and smartphone in the other. Pip Gladwin’s portrayal of Rob – the guy next door – is excellent. As the only man in the show, he is inevitably pushed and pulled all over the place and is the best source of laughter throughout. Joanna McCarthy as Beth is the anchor to reality. Her morality is challenged by the evolving news: will she rebel when the victim becomes the monster? Will she reveal the truth or will she swallow her morals for the sake of TV? Her interpretation is fresh and natural, if a bit underwhelming in places. On the other hand, Tracey Pickup’s Claudia is the face of corporate evil and a ruthless manipulator. Her interpretation is sharp and poignant, giving a good pace to the show. However, at times her performance did feel a bit rushed. Her geeky friend Annette (Leanna Wiggington) adds a bit of spice to the group although her character doesn’t really get the chance to develop fully.
Overall, Hot Property is a witty situational comedy that effectively portrays the superficiality of modern media-driven society’s continuous search for profits no matter who gets hurt along the way. I thought the use of twitter as the window to the rest of the world was a good idea and the play was certainly funny and entertaining throughout. That being said, the theme was nothing unseen before in TV sitcoms, and the direction could have been a little more decisive, especially in the scene transitions. In addition, the use of props and audiovisuals did make it seem a tad ‘fringe’, but who cares when you are having such good night out at the pub!
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Hot Property runs at Etcetera Theatre until 1st March 2013.

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