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Reviewed by Jess D’Ath

Two guys. In a room. A button to push at intervals. No one knows why they are there, and as it transpires, neither do they. This paves the way for a story of friendship in strange and apparently unavoidable circumstances, philosophical wanderings, reminiscent of the classic “Waiting for Godot”. Why are they here? Are they ever going to leave? Do they even want to leave? And why do they have to press the button? Surely, if we are to take any clues from the title, the whole point of the show is not press it. Yet, press it they do. Repeatedly. At the end of the show, I was left wondering what the point of the show even was? I was caught up in the story, and felt for the characters and had grown to love them just a little bit, but all I could think as I left the theatre was, “Well that got dark real quick.” Sure enough, after asking a few audience members what they thought it was about, I realised I was far from alone. So I set out to find the shows creators, determined not to be confused for the rest of the night.

Luckily, creators and actors Isaac Thomas and Dylan Hutton were more than happy to oblige me, and so the truth unfolded. As I thought, they had wanted to create a show with as little tech and set as possible. Done. They had also wanted to create a show in which the audience were as clueless as they were. Done! Interestingly, this even went as far as Thomas admitting that both actors had completely different ideas about what was going on. Interesting indeed! And then came the answer I’d been waiting for, what was in the void? “Well”, said Thomas, “can I be completely honest with you?” “Sure!” I answered enthusiastically, picking my pencil back up in anticipation. “We improvised the whole second half of the show.” Taken aback, I pushed on, and the truth came tumbling out. Long story short – and to ensure I don’t give away spoilers for those of you who will get to see this in the future – it turns out that in their rush to get set up, Thomas had failed to give the stage hand the single most crucial instruction of ‘don’t send this back’. Which, once this did come back, completely turned the script on its head. So, for those of you who were lucky enough to see this show on Sunday night, you actually saw two actors who suddenly had to think on the spot, pull their best improv skills out of nowhere and find a way to finish the show in a cohesive way. If that isn’t fringe then I don’t know what is! What I do know, is that if I get a chance to see this again, I sure will. I would love to see ending 1.0. Perhaps this is the start of a whole new show – which ending will we see?

Don’t Push the Button is part of the 2018 Nelson Fringe Festival. To check out other shows and workshops, click here.

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