SPEED: THE MOVIE, THE PLAY @ Girls School gets 8/10

Speed: The Movie, The Play
@ Girls School
Saturday, January 18, 2020


“Pop quiz hotshot – there’s a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?”

Ever wondered what you would do? Here’s your chance to find out at Act/React’s interactive performance, Speed: The Movie, The Play. But if jaw-dropping explosions, edge-of-the-seat bus chases, death-defying stunts, great on-screen chemistry and hyper-realistic special effects are what you are expecting to see at FRINGE WORLD’s Speed: The Movie, The Play, then I’m afraid you will be sorely disappointed. If you want to be playfully entertained for 60 minutes, however, this could be a fun ride.

Brisbane-based Act/React’s Speed: The Movie, The Play affectionately pays homage to the 1994 Hollywood blockbuster, Speed, where audience members board a vintage 1977 bus and the cast parodies all that is loved (or hated) in the movie. Act/React does not skip any of the integral scenes and magically ushers the audience into different locations – including the ill-fated elevator and the concluding train sequence.

The ‘special effects’ are deliciously low-budget and low-tech, which makes for great comedy. Actors running past the bus with inflatable palm trees, black and white silhouettes to re-enact the LA skyline, plastic dolls flying past the windows, combined with deliberate overacting by the seasoned cast, made this a quintessential Fringe show and delivered what we have come to love about the festival: the ridiculous, the irreverent and an affectionate poke at pop culture.

The humour would not have held together if the cast were amateurs. But Daren King’s impersonation of Keanu Reeves was very funny as he captured Keanu’s innocent demeanour and awkward but charming acting style. Gregory Rowbotham played the bad guy, Dennis, like an ‘overblown’ pantomime villain, much like Dennis Hopper’s portrayal of the trigger-happy character, Payne. His evil laugh and iconic one-liners were delivered with gusto and energy. Without giving away too many plot spoilers, the show does turn into a musical for a few seconds, which adds to the fun.

The supporting characters glued the rest of the show together. A healthy dose of improvisation at the start by Sam the bus driver (played by Natalie Bochenski) as she teased members of the audience, set the scene for 60 minutes of delightful entertainment. The jokes about the fandom of pop culture icon, Keanu Reeves, were nicely interspersed and received with peals of laughter.

The ending of the show felt a little jarring as we ‘escaped’ the bus and changed locations but it did add to the low budget charm, which by then was something the audience had learned to expect.

Much of the show depends on audience participation and as a result some parts were cringe-worthy when watching embarrassed audience members awkwardly deliver lines on cue cards. But this added to the fun of being on the bus and playing a part in the show. It could potentially have been highly embarrassing for audience members because of the interactive nature, but you are never ridiculed as all of the audience are in the same boat (or ‘bus’, in fact).

If you like parodies and want to be reminded of what you loved (or hated) about Speed, then Speed: The Movie, The Play will probably be your kind of public transport.