Blood Is Thicker Than Hummus is an immersive, theatrical delight! 10/10 would recommend to a dysfunctional friend!
Set in the ‘Community Room’ at Siteworks, 90 minutes of quarrel and quandary see the audience immersed in the dysfunctional world of Pamela, Patrick, and Penelope Parker.
This evidently collaborative comedic immersion and partial improvisation begins at the front door of the Parkers’ ‘home’, with front of house personnel, ‘Bobby.’
Benjamin Jamieson (Bobby) sets the audience up with his open, light-hearted candour in such a comforting manner, that I am certain the show would not have evoked the same sense of community and collaboration that it did without his introduction.
Handing out name badges and with them, new personas, the audience were able to find solace in their newfound characters and quickly adapt to the improvisational nature of Blood Is Thicker Than Hummus.
Initially expecting us to be eased into the immersive aspect of the show, I was pleasantly surprised to find the Community Room was left as is (identical to an actual home) rather than housing a makeshift traditional ‘theatre space’. From the get go, Pamela Parker (Melina Wylie, and mother of the twins) interacted with the audience as if we were old family and friends, inviting us into her home for a long-awaited family dinner. (Think, a less murder mystery-esque version of Tim Curry in Clue.)
Moments into the performance, I found myself in the kitchen making roses out of cotton napkins, and conversing with Pamela and fellow audience members, ‘Graham’ and ‘Keith’. As a performer myself, I enjoyed the challenging aspect of branching into the unknown with the actors.
I also learned a new skill. So if that’s not a plus, I don’t know what is!
I can’t speak for everyone else, but any uncomfortableness experienced during this show simply stemmed from the lifelike nature of the performance, particularly during the fights between brother and sister, Patrick (Pearce Hessling) and Penelope (Catherine Holder.)
Orchestrated by the undeniably funny, somewhat controlling, and incredibly loving, recently widowed Pamela, the two were forced to spend an evening of disharmony together.
Having grown up with the same family dynamic, I found this extremely enjoyable to watch and engage in. Whether the pair were fighting about their individual political or sexual endeavours, or picking on each other’s flaws, Patrick and Penelope played out the dysfunctional, hormone-fuelled, detest-laden brother/sister dynamic to a ‘T’.
Witnessing Pamela desperately attempt to make her two “peas in a pod” get along through gentle but firm nudges, pointed looks, and singing the “I’m Sorry Song” (with hand puppets of course), felt like an inadvertent reminder for us all to call our mums and say thank you, (even though we resented her “happy family” attempts at the time.) The trio play a careful balancing act as they teeter on the edge of drama at times, but find their way back to lightness easefully. Whilst I would have liked to have seen a little more genuine dramatic tension unfold, their comedic delivery suited the intimate mode of storytelling.
Small details like their father and mother’s framed quotes (“Neither of you are adopted,” and references to hummus) became part of their performance as an integral medium for recurring motif, which aided the moments that required comedic relief.
Reminiscent of a TV sit-com, this had my eyes tennis balling across the space, which worked a treat visually. I felt enough like a voyeur to have a removed experience but integrated enough to feel comfortable allowing myself to partake in discussion.
Participation became the norm as Pamela told old stories about our characters, which we were learning for the first time, and in an unspoken mutual agreement, went along with. Despite their family feuds, the Parkers never allowed themselves to deter too far off course, as they ensured to include the audience in their interactions. This was most endearing when all of us went around in a circle to compliment each other, in an attempt to make Penelope say something nice about Patrick. This immediately connected the group and became the sole reason I wished to have connected with everyone after the show ended.
If theatre can connect people so much that they enter as strangers and leave feeling like friends, then there is something powerful about the performance; and I think that speaks volumes.
Touching, yet humorous, Blood is Thicker Than Hummus is clever, well executed, thoroughly substantiated, and relatable. My only qualm is that dinner was never served…
Until next time?
Images: Zara Steiner