author: mason sliva | a & c editor
Exploring Hitchhiker’s Improv’s newest creation
With the recent release of season two, all the talk has been about Stranger Things. But, what is stranger than Stranger Things? Stranger-er Things?
Spooktacular was Hitchhiker’s Improv’s Halloween show on Friday, Oct.27. The performance featured two improv groups in the first half, which warmed the audience up for a monumental second half. Eerie Things, a parody of hit television show, Stranger Things, provided endless fun, and endless laughs.
The troupe needed inspiration for their performance and, as such, asked for a tragedy that could plague a small town. The chosen suggestion was, “The sheriff’s daughter went missing,” and like that, the audience was thrust into the fun.
Eerie Things featured three school children, portrayed by Tom Duffy, Sam Gross, and Vanessa Prevost. Sam’s sister has gone missing, and the three decide to take matters into their own hands. The three, however, couldn’t have prepared themselves for what they were about to find.
Town sheriff and Sam’s mother, portrayed by Jennifer Fuller, was tasked with finding her own daughter and reuniting Sam with her lost sister. However, Jennifer proves to be distracted by crimes committed by a friendly truck driver (Cameron Chomyn), and in the process, ends up suspecting her own husband (Rory McCorriston).
Constant wolf howls could be heard throughout the performance, and these howls were always met with the phrase, “The wolves are migrating.” Were the wolves to blame the young girl’s disappearance, or was there something more sinister happening?
Along the way, the troupe bump into a lonely teenager, portrayed by Credence McFadzean, who offers valuable advice intertwined with incessant whining about his feelings. The teenager was an obvious spoof of Stranger Things character Jonathan Byers, and pushed the character’s traits to the absolute maximum. McFadzean’s performance was actually quite brilliant, and helped to tie the entire performance together.
Throughout the performance, Eerie Things made excellent use of light and sound elements, fully captivating the audience with a genuine ‘80s feel. On top of that, use of various sound effects, most notably the wolf howls, helped to bring about full immersion into the performance.
Eerie Things was an absolutely brilliant display of satire, and didn’t rely on cheap jokes. The roughly forty-minute performance capped off an amazing night of improv, and helped to keep the Halloween spirit alive. With the success of Eerie Things, it is to be seen if Hitchhikers exploits satire again in the future.
“It’s almost certain that we’re going to be doing something like this again,” added Tom Duffy. “It’s a lot of fun to dress up and play these characters we’ve created. I don’t know what show we’ll be paying homage to next, but I can guarantee that this format will be back and better than ever.”
Tom commented that the cast wanted to do something extra special for their Halloween show, and the show date just so happened to be on the same day as the release of Stranger Things’ second season.
“It was a no-brainer. We all sat around and discussed its themes, and characters. Everybody had all these super neat ideas for the format, characters, and soundtrack. It was a big collective creation that I think turned out amazing.”
However, creating an expansive, forty-minute parody was not without its difficulties. Tom added, “I think it was definitely a challenge to stay true to the spirit of Stranger Things while also trying to make it unique. We had to make sure we used proper ‘80s references and made sure that we’d act like how those characters in those shows and movies from that time would act. But it was also a lot of fun to poke at its tropes and sometimes break the conventions and making it comedic.”
Hitchhiker’s Artistic Director, Andrew Parry, wants to explore a greater variety of ideas that the group can bring to the stage.
“I wanted to move away from our game-y and fast-paced structure to get us into developing stories on stage more. My hope for this season is to curate and produce consistent new improvised one act plays. We are on our way there. Genre work and satire are fantastic and easy to bring this to life, because they are formats and styles that we already know work. We get the chance to then just play in their framework.”
Despite laying groundwork for the sketch, Parry did not perform, but instead provided sound for the set. However, Eerie Things was a collaborative effort, and every person deserves their credit.
“Andrew Christoffel and I were picking the dates for the show back in June, and when we discovered the timing of the new season of Stranger Things, we had to hop on it. We came up with the format of creating characters beforehand to emulate the theme from the show, but once on stage everything is improvised. I created the video and photos that lead up to the event and then had the ability to improvised lights and sound from the stage with Cole Nicolson.”
What the group decides to explore next is yet to be decided, but Hitchhiker’s fans can rest assured that satire such as Eerie Things is not a one-off. Hitchhiker’s continues their season with multiple shows over the next few weeks. Check out one of these shows and keep your ears open for Hitchhiker’s next big creation.