After playing to packed houses at Brisbane’s Wonderland Festival, receiving rave reviews at Melbourne Fringe, and being nominated for Best Comedy at Perth FRINGE WORLD in 2018, Love/Hate Actually is back by popular demand in 2019. The rom-com, Love Actually, has warmed hearts, become a Christmas classic and perhaps in this case, has the potential to tear a friendship apart. Brisbane besties and comedians, Natalie Bochenski and Amy Currie, bring their annual showdown on stage in a part film lecture, part game show, with audience voting. Currie believes the movie is a heartwarming affirmation of love while Bochenski thinks it’s a manipulative piece of fluff. Who will win the debate? To find out, check out Love/Hate Actually from Tuesday, January 29 – Wednesday, January 30, 8.30pm at The Flour Factory or Thursday January 31 – Sunday February 3, 8.30pm at The Claremont Hotel. Bochenski and Currie caught up with CHERYL LIM to discuss why the movie causes such a rift and confess their mutual long-time crush on Colin Firth.
The two of you have been friends for a long time. Explain the scenario that led to your arguments over the rom-com, Love Actually, and the most dramatic time it got heated between you.
AMY: It’s something we’ve been arguing about for years! I’ve always loved the film, while Nat’s always been bitter, cynical and incapable of human feeling. Nat’s a former journo, and things came to a head when she wrote an article for the Sydney Morning Herald proclaiming her hatred of the movie back in 2013. It became a recurring discussion that we’d have every Christmas – mostly in fun, but not completely – and eventually we decided over freakshakes that the only solution was to duke it out on stage.
NATALIE: I’m not a robot, I just can see a pile of manipulative crap when it’s in front of me.
You’ve been writing and performing with each other for over a decade and seen huge success with improvised Jane Austen parody, Instant Austen. Obviously your friendship has endured for a decade, but have you found it at times a challenge to work together?
AMY: We certainly squabble sometimes, but I think we’re such good friends because our senses of humour are so similar. We love an enthusiastic debate over just about anything, but we get on well. I mean, we’ve travelled together a lot and have never killed one another, so that’s a pretty good sign.
NATALIE: So far.
So Amy, tell us in a nutshell, why you are ‘in love’ with Love Actually? And Natalie, tell us why you HATE it?
AMY: Love Actually is big and dumb and lovely and good for the soul. It’s like a fat Labrador in a Santa hat. Sure, it’s not exactly an in-depth exploration of the human psyche, but I can’t think of anything more Christmassy – and I really love Christmas.
NATALIE: Where to start? The schmaltzy, sugary tone? The creepy, stalky relationships? The fact that one character’s entire plotline is, insultingly, “I’m going to America because the women there are dumb enough to sleep with me”? The presence of Keira Knightley? That stupid “Christmas is All Around” cover? The list is endless.
Love/Hate Actually is described as “part double act, part film lecture and part game show,” can the audience expect to see some improvisation on stage, given that you’re also skilled at improv theatre?
AMY: While Love/Hate Actually is a scripted show, our improv skills certainly come in handy – we have lots of interaction with the audience, who give a verdict at the end of each show as to whether Love Actually is wonderful or horrible (love usually wins). The show is constantly evolving, and neither of us can resist ad-libbing now and then!
The show has played to packed houses at Brisbane’s Wonderland Festival, nominated for Best Comedy at Perth FRINGE WORLD in 2018, received rave reviews at Melbourne Fringe Festival and even debuted in Port Vila Vanuatu. How did the opportunity to perform the show at Port Vila Vanuatu arise and what was the audience’s response?
AMY: We were absolutely delighted to perform a charity show in Port Vila raising funds for the local arts community. Nat’s a regular visitor to Vanuatu – her grandmother is an expat who has lived there since the ’60s, so it’s something of a second home for her. When we got the chance to perform in a beautiful local art gallery, we were thrilled – and Nat’s grandmother was the guest of honour!
NATALIE: We even had the Australian High Commissioner attend! It was a great night, and people are still telling my Gran how much fun it was. I’ve always wanted to perform for Gran in her home town, so it was a bucket list item ticked for me.
Will there be any re-enactments of the iconic, lovable / annoying Hugh Grant stutter or Rowan Atkinson’s Mr-Bean-like present wrapping? Can we expect any other great character impressions in Love/Hate Actually?
AMY: We’ve got a few surprises up our sleeve, but I think the best impression in the show is done by our wonderful voiceover artist, Drew. He records a different slightly twisted version of a certain stuttering Prime Minister’s opening monologue for each and every venue we visit, and his impression is just perfect.
In spite of your opposing views on the movie, both of you have a crush on Colin Firth. What is it about Colin Firth that sends hearts racing?
AMY: One word: turtlenecks. Hot damn.
NATALIE: His character in Love Actually is ridiculous, but come on, he IS Mr Darcy. I’m prepared to forgive him a lot for those tight riding trousers and casual dip in a lake.