Have you ever sat in the audience of a show so bad you wanted to hurl something at the actor?
If this thought has ever crossed your mind, then Easy Targets by The Burglars of Hamm is the show for you. Consisting of four short one-man shows, Easy Targets allows you to throw rolled up socks at the actor whenever you’d like. And trust me, you’ll want to; but not because the shows are bad. On the contrary, they feature extremely talented actors delivering powerful and entertaining monologues. You’ll throw them because you feel bored, annoyed, distaste, or even hatred towards the content of their opinion.
“What if you weren’t allowed to be proud of who you are? If every time you went to a job interview or applied to colleges, you knew the cards were stacked against you? What if every day of your life you were made to feel like a second-hand citizen? This is what it feels like to be a white man.” Thud. Thud. Thudthudthudthud. A barrage of socks hit him in the chest, shoulders, and face. His smug face, blissfully ignorant than he is saying anything wrong. This dramatic irony is the beauty of Easy Targets.
Each performance contained a clear disconnect between audience and actor. The actors speak to us like we agree, like we are their audience—but we’re not. The socks provide an entry point into the show, into the action—and through them, we become a part of the performance. We are immersed in the show. Like any good piece of immersive theater, the socks allow us to express our feelings directly; it’s the ultimate catharsis. If the actor prattles on too long, the air can start to feel a little tense; but then a sock will come out of the third throw, hitting him right square in the jaw and the audience will burst into laughter.
The first performance was “Keep on Truckin’” by Jon Beauregard and performed by Hugo Armstrong. With just a trucker’s cap, an old t-shirt, and imaginary steering wheel—this story focuses on a lone trucker on an empty highway. He recounts his misogynistic conquests and feelings on immigration; complete with the most racist impression of a Hispanic worker I’ve heard in a long time. The second was “Pride and Prejudice” written and performed by Albert Dayan. This performance was an audience favorite (judging by the number of socks thrown) discussing every single way that the white man is discriminated against in modern society and what we need to do to stop the prejudice. The third was “Frankly My Dear: A Very Special Afternoon with Mr. Clark Gable” by Carolyn Almos and performed by Jon Beauregard. This focused on sage advice from an actor past his prime with the inclusion of some over-the-top melodramatic sequences. Finally, “Town Hall” written and performed by Matt Almos and performed by Scott Golden closed out the show. “Town Hall” was a very intimate speech from a Republican Congressman with a hilarious secret.
The writing was smart, punchy, and felt like it could come have come out of your weird Uncle’s mouth. The socks are fun and all are a different size and weight, which provides a challenge to hit the (easy) targets. Each performance is supplemented by special effects and props to further elevate the message. This masterful blend of a one-person show, props, and audience participation makes Easy Targets one of the best shows I’ve seen at Fringe to date.
Ultimately, Easy Targets is more immersive than some of the shows billing themselves as immersive this year. Putting socks in the hands of the audience adds a layer of humor that works in perfect contrast to the shocking words on stage. The talent of the actors, writers, and directors provides a focal point for our hatred and accomplishes what any good theater aims for: to make the audience feel. And boy do we feel; we feel with every single throw. And we buy more socks during the break to feel some more. When that one perfect throw smacks the actor right across the face, catharsis is achieved and we leave the show feeling both accomplished and a little lighter.
Tickets for Easy Targets are available through the Fringe Festival’s official website.
For even more Fringe Festival recommendations, check out Haunting’s interviews with the creators of upcoming 2017 Fringe shows like Narcissus and Echo and Dark Arts, reviews of shows like The Rise and Fall of Dracula, Normal, and Fire & Light, or a full listing of notable experiences on our events page.