For me, The Hunger Games: the 48-hour embodied exactly what a 48-hour show should be. It was shambolic, eccentric and a total cardboard parody, which I immensely enjoyed. Co-writers Katie Walsh and Katie Paterson stuck fairly firmly to the original storyline but put their own unique twists on it. The Hunger Games lends itself to parody extremely well but I was impressed with the extra material added. A personal highlight was the addition of a tap dancing Billy Elliot played by Matt Johnson (who was fantastic as game host Graham Norton), working in the District 12 mine with his unsupportive father. There were frequent references to other films throughout – The Plastics of Mean Girls were three of the candidates, as were Scar and Mufasa from The Lion King which might sound like a bit of an odd mix of storylines, yet actually worked very well and contributed to the bizarre and fun ambiance.
The directors were incredibly creative with their use of the space too – the Room of Requirement was used for Scar to push Mufasa (in this case played by a teddy lion…) and Haymitch communicated to his candidates in the arena through it. Max Smith played the latter and was, as usual, uncanny in his impersonation of the character. His adlibbing added extra hilarity with quips to Katniss Everdeen about Jennifer Lawrence (who plays the protagonist in the original franchise), and his interpretation of a haggard alcoholic was second to none. The two romantic leads of the play, Katniss and her fellow candidate Peeta were both played by first years Marie Claire de Voil and Joe Bonfield. The former was excellent at sending up Katniss’s intensity and feistiness whilst Bonfield encapsulated the needy Peeta flawlessly, turning him into an obsessive, pitiful stalker. Another excellent performance came from Izzy White who played the nauseating Effie Trinket, a member of the capitol, with a perfect simper and constant smile plastered onto her made up face.
I came away from The Hunger Games with a giant smile on my face as for me it really hit the mark. The entire atmosphere was that of a quirky pantomime, which I think captures the ethos of a 48-hour perfectly. It wasn’t too polished and clinical yet it didn’t descend into silly chaos, which is often tempting. There were a few moments when the cast corpsed onstage but that simply added to the charm and fun of the piece. A truly creative masterpiece, which the cast and crew should be really proud of – I hope that next year, the team decide to do the other instalments!