An Unexpected Hiccup – The Studio

Directed by Ian Cameron & Maria Oller

Written by Michael Duke, based on a story by Ian Cameron

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Things are never what they seem, and this shall be this evening’s theme. For what is real may be revealed, with few secrets left unsealed. But perhaps those unspoken secrets should remain in shadows…? Emerging from the darkness of virtual rehearsals and stepping back into the spotlight, Lung Ha Theatre’s passion project with Plutôt la Vie, An Unexpected Hiccup, finds a young man (Murdo) trapped in a storm as he turns to the lone house sitting in the wilderness for shelter. The residents of which seem to have been expecting Murdo’s arrival, but that couldn’t be, right?

A long night of grave misunderstandings, comedic situations, and a measure of more sinister goings-on, An Unexpected Hiccup takes a classic gothic horror template and infuses it with a delightfully comedic zing, where the unexpected hiccup of sorts can throw everything off track. Mike Duke’s writing, based on Ian Cameron’s idea, keeps the audience guessing as Murdo is led through the house, jumping at every noise, each shadow cast upon the walls, and perplexed by the ghosts which seem to stalk the halls as the siblings mourn/celebrate the impending death of their unseen father. 

From Plutôt la Vie, Tim Licata works closely with Lung Ha to further support the spectacular creatives and team the theatre company is renowned for. Taking the principal role of Murdo, Licata channels curious energy, even as the kindness of these strangers begins to turn sinister. Naïve and carefree but secretly invested in the goings-on, Licata has a warming presence and tight comedic ability in aiding other cast members in drawing out their best.

Oller and Cameron’s direction enables the performers equal opportunity to demonstrate talents and capabilities, branching the production away from the confines of a straight play and incorporating more physical aspects, along with musical sequences and rather special drag performances of sorts. These deviations enable performers like Emma Clark to showcase their vocals, while Keith Watson takes full advantage of the diverse costume design and dazzles.

An absolute delight, Emma McCaffrey’s Velma has a razor delivery of comedy – blunt and brutal in moments, loose and playful in others. Her initial walkthrough of the house alongside Licata is a gem of the show, witty and fast-paced with a few surprises to the eagle-eyed. Karen Tennant’s simplistic but effective staging helps drastically; the series of doors allow for secrets to hide and unveil themselves in a dramatic disruption.

And perhaps little is more disruptive than the trio that is Kurt, Tessa and the ever-faithful servant Robert, or is it, James? Nicola Tuxworth has an uncanny ability to control any scene, fitting as the more dominant of the family. And as untrustworthy as Kurt is likened to be, there’s a charisma to Gavin Yule’s presence. It is Ryan Duncan however who serves as the linchpin, the house-help holding the family together, concealing their dirty laundry and ensuring sure no one goes into the cellar…

But as the laughs roll, the grimness and promised ‘gothic’ nature of the show, petters out towards the finale. Dipping somewhat, the audience knows they will never have all the answers the production poses, but there’s an inherent lack of finality to the promise of the thriller aspect. With a dying father, a household of peculiar siblings, and a man determined to ensure the mysterious sixth sibling never makes an appearance, Duke’s writing slips and promises too much, delivering on too little.

Continuing their leading triumph, Lung Ha Theatre Company maintains a solid voice across Scottish stage work. Offering the opportunity to showcase stories of those passionate about performance, An Unexpected Hiccup is merit to the production company and displays a wealth of passion and creativity.

An Unexpected Hiccup runs until October 30th. Tickets can be booked here.

For further information surrounding Lung Ha Theatre and their support team, please visit their website.

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