Hoipolloi, Living Like Victor

Review in Issue 11-2 | Summer 1999

The play within a play is a common enough theatrical device. Audiences are accustomed to the notion of fictional characters stepping outside of a text. But in Living Like Victor, characters spiral from one fiction to another in a breathtaking challenge to reality that would leave Flann O’Brien himself gasping for breath.

The scene is set by a drab stage manager – played beautifully by Stefanie Muller – who nervously makes preparations for the players’ entrance. Three actors, playing actors playing detectives, enter on the start of their quest to solve the mystery of the death of the imaginary Victor. Even the lowly stage manager is drawn into the plot – but at least we know when she’s being her real self and when she’s not. Or do we? At every opportunity, this performance challenges the audience’s willingness to suspend disbelief. First we are encouraged to feel empathy for a character who is killed off in a play that we don’t even know exists. Then we are reminded that everything we are witnessing is as real or unreal as the rest of the story within a story. The show builds to a wonderfully anarchic climax of muddled wigs and wellington boots, as any attempt to keep the characters as separate entities dissolves.

Hoipolloi co-directors Stephanie Muller and Shon Dale-Jones are joined for this production by Andrew Pembrooke and Natalie Martinez Soria, all of whom demonstrate a high level of performance skill. Living Like Victor is a wonderful cocktail of ham acting buffoon grotesquery and physical comedy. The gung-ho incompetence of the three actor-detectives contrasts nicely with the pathos of the lonely stage-manager and the preposterous minor characters who appear in many guises. Laugh? We nearly killed ourselves. Magic.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Mar 1999

This article in the magazine

Issue 11-2
p. 22