‘Two Man Tarantino’ is a simple idea that could easily have become a forgotten bit of theatre. It is saved in part by two things, its energetic and ingratiating performers and the fact that its source material, and the creator of it, is so revered by a particular generation.
‘Reservoir Dogs’, ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Jackie Brown’, ‘Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2’, ‘Death Proof’, ‘Inglourious Basterds’, ‘Django Unchained’ and ‘The Hateful Eight’. These film classics are effortlessly quotable, with cool and larger-than-life characters and iconic moments. Some are better than others, the growth of film director/writer Quentin Tarantino has seen him change course following a failure and in that sense we should probably look forward to his next film. Yet even the less successful have moments that people have learnt verbatim and been copied or parodied ever since, so there is a wealth of material to draw from.
Set during the last night at a video store, we get a meet cute (or hang cute since the characters have already met) between the video store clerk and a regular customer about to leave town following a break-up. A shared passion for Tarantino is revealed between the two and they start acting out famous scenes from Tarantino flicks to prove who the biggest fan is. That’s about it – or at least it’s the bulk of it – and there was a moment early on when you realise this could get tedious very quickly. For a whole bunch of GenXers or Millennials, quoting Tarantino and acting like the characters has been a popular pastime for several years. Why watch two actors do it for you on a night out? Thankfully there is a sprinkling of meta-humour throughout which never failed to get a big laugh and really took the show to the next level.
The scenes acted out come in an unpredictable fashion, some surprise or are done with a twist, and the energy, dialled up to 11, becomes infectious. As cast members Emily Kristopher and Stephen Hirst re-enact the fight scenes from ‘Kill Bill Vol. 1’ the whole thing comes alive. There is playfulness in their attempts, successful or not, at impersonating these famous actors and making callbacks to Hollywood magic with homemade props that would be lying around a defunct video store.
Stephen and Emily have the required fitness but display the kind of regular people grace that turns every feat pulled off into a reason to cheer. Building up a healthy sweat they give it their all in some well-choreographed sword fights before the show builds to a bloody climax in the best traditions of the auteur filmmaker. It has to be said that the audience lapped up every second, either full of Tarantino fans or people who love the performers themselves. ‘Two Man Tarantino’ lacks the critical dissection or endless inventiveness of other shows that riff on popular movies. Insight or wit in the script is limited but it is there occasionally and it would be really interesting to see it further developed with such a likeable pair of lead actors. For now though, it’s a bit of fun on a night out and for a lot of people that seems to be more than enough.