Hippie Shakes transports the audience to the uncertain days of 60s America. Drug use, cycles of abuse, and a mother struggling to make ends meet, this show fuses gig theatre, storytelling, multimedia, and true events to deliver a fascinating portrayal of life in an unstable relationship. The band adds an exciting concept to this show, setting the scene with hippie rock music and instrumental input for the voices of supplementary characters.
Chickie craves freedom for herself and stability for her family, creating pressure that informs her sometimes-undesirable choices. Driven by a desire for love and devotion from her drug-dealing husband, Chickie is a woman doing everything she can to hold onto her sense of self. Desperate to support five children, her husband, Johnny, joins the illegal drug trade. While Chickie knows she’s looking for a different kind of life, it seems clear that she’s turned a blind eye to her own involvement in the war on drugs and questionable parenting choices.
Elliot Chase beautifully carries the energy necessary for this one-woman show. She seamlessly transitions from addressing the audience to multiroling and whipping out epic ’70s tunes. Nuanced with dry humour, she gives a layered performance, beautifully narrating and embodying not only the main storyline but sharing the complete transition of her daughter Rose from child to adult and the demise of her husband. Her stage presence was captivating, sweetened by the depth of her range as an actor and a singer.
The connection between Chase and the band was commendable for such a fast-paced piece. The band offered a unique quality to the show, supporting the storyline, and filling in the blanks for many voices with instruments and percussion. This element brought something special to the overall delivery of the show.
The use of multimedia was intelligent and added depth. Various images and short clips were projected onto a screen to convey different scene locations. It would’ve been great if these images were much more prominent and took up the whole screen to give a greater sense of the scene. This also would’ve helped Elliot. She gave everything she had to this performance and left nothing in the tank. A little more power from the multimedia choices would only support her performance.
There is also something to be said about the location. Would more colour and depth in production and set bring out the full potential of the piece? Perhaps a site-specific location might suit the overall mood and feeling of the show.
The final cherry on top is learning that this story is based on actual events. Experiencing the complexity of parenthood during a significant time of struggle for so many is eye-opening. Written so powerfully and executed in such a seamless performance from the whole team, this piece of gig theatre is not to be missed.
Recommended Drink: Vodka Sunrise laced with LSD, because it’s the 70’s.
Catch The Hippie Shakes at Greenside- Infirmary Street between Aug 8-13, 15-20, 22-27 at 13:45. tickets on edfringe website