Review: Hudson and Halls Live!

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Levi Joule reviews Hudson and Halls Live!

Written and directed by Kip Chapman, Hudson and Halls Live! is a show about cooking, copious amounts of alcohol and the hilarity that ensues when the two are combined – All set in a live studio with Peter Hudson (played by Todd Emerson) and David Halls (played by Chris Parker), the legendary chefs who graced New Zealand television screens between 1976 – 1986.

Set in a 1986 TVNZ television studio, complete with over-earnest studio manager Ngaire, (played by Jackie van Beek) Chapman and his team have painstakingly created a real life television experience, with a retro themed kitchen and as Halls noted the “tacky ordainments Peter collects every weekend from Parnell” proudly displayed on the back shelves. The real life studio experience was complete with the wafting smell of sautéing garlic and roast turkey that lingered throughout the Herald Theatre.

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For just over a decade, Hudson and Halls were the nation’s most famous gay couple, their cooking show being beamed into living rooms across the country at a time in which homosexuality was still illegal.

And yet the play doesn’t even mention sexuality even once, because neither did the real life television show.

Hudson and Halls Live! captures the real life story of Peter Hudson and David Halls perfectly. Not only their show – but also the way in which it was received by a nation.

Hudson and Halls were both allowed to be their unadulterated camp self’s and New Zealand loved them for it.

The most vital ingredient needed for this show to work was a natural chemistry between both leading actors and Emerson and Parker certainly delivered. There is no doubting the culinary (and comedic) genius of Peter Hudson and David Halls and Silo Theatre couldn’t have picked a better pair to portray the two celebrity chefs than Todd Emerson and Chris Parker, both of whom produced stand out performances.  With Emerson superbly portrays the uptight and acid tongued Peter Hudson, Parker portrays the flamboyant David Halls, but does so in a measured way, avoiding the overly cheesy comedy that could have been all too easy a trap to fall into.

Overall, the play does a good job of steering clear of the predictable. Hudson and Halls Live! was outlandishly funny, yet contained an intelligent script, and an experienced cast capable of treating the show’s subject matter with the respect it deserved. It has more than a pinch of slapstick humour thrown in for good measure, yet it manages to avoid the cliché.

Hudson and Halls Live! is a delicious treat all theatre lovers simply must sample.

Hudson and Halls Live! November 5 – December 12. Tickets available here

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