REVIEW: PoC Revue’s ‘The Hard Sell’
By Haydn Hickson
It was 9:45pm on Saturday the 13th of April. ‘The Hard Sell’ had just ended with the audience roaring with applause at the impressively-tight final number. I was on my way backstage to take a cast photo, stepping behind the curtains of the Reginald Theatre. It was here that I stumbled upon many a cast member bawling their eyes out. I expected nothing less.
Before the opening number was even finished, we knew we weren’t getting a regular revue show. From the chic profile pictures to the hilarious (and viral) promo videos that ‘The Hard Sell’ put out prior to opening night (shout out to Adrian Wang Jonathan Lo), it was clear that this was going to be a special revue. This was ultimately reinforced the second the lights came up and the Moana-instrumental began. As the audience member scanned their eyes across the stage, it would have become clear that every single person on stage was not only so committed to character, but looking ecstatic: which is exactly what you want from a revue.
All-in-all, the show was impressive; especially considering the limited rehearsal time they had.
The energy and the good times kept coming with the hilarious and all-too-relatable opening sketch “Who’s Paying” featuring Georgia Brooks, Karen Leong and PoC-revue veteran Ping-hui Ho (whose energy was at a solid 350% the entire time). Props must also go to Rhian Mordaunt for his gag-worthy adlibs in “Spill The Tea” and commitment to character in “Dev Patel”. Additionally, a characterisation shoutout is warranted for Angie Mao’s role as Confucius. And shout out to Jack Rawlings, Lena Wang, Jonathan Taneja and Shani Patel for making me question the origins of my Christmas gifts in the outstanding sketch “Santa’s Sweatshop”.
While ‘The Hard Sell’ delivered on comedy, the show also brought it when it came to musical ensemble numbers. Props must be given to Roshan Kumarage and the entire cast for nailing the rigorous choreography in the opening and closing. Special mention also goes to Millie Roberts for her impressive rap skills in the dance-highlight “Snack City”. The bar at the Seymour Centre definitely owes Roberts some sort of cut of their sales during intermission.
‘The Hard Sell’ really gave us more than we bargained for when it came to unconventional sketches as well. The show offered us strange moments (including Adam Torres massaging a balloon), moments that @’d me personally (shout out to Esther Shim’s cancelling of cancel culture) and literally sad sketches (featuring Amelia Mertha, Christy Ma and Rawlings as bullies in “Hide and Seek”).
The only negative moment in the whole show would fall on the shoulders of Jonathan Taneja for the sketch “Blood Bender”. My advice? Don’t put an attractive man on stage, tease a nude-sketch and then not deliver. Poor form PoC Revue, poor form.
All jokes aside, there really isn’t any downside to this show.
‘The Hard Sell’ really set the bar for revues this year. The sketches were funny, the energy was present, the lighting popped off (Timothy Edmond), the set was minimal yet chic (James Booth, Sophia Chung), the costumes were of professional quality (Vivien Nguyen, Jacqueline Truong), the stagehands (Gale Chan, Sonya Say, Jeniece Vanheer) nailed their transitions and the show sold out, thanks to the efforts of Geneve Bullo and Simone Zhao.
Did Emilie Hong Ning and Tazrian Khan really just direct a perfect revue? Consider the tea spilt.