Hell West And Crooked
Amelia Jane Hunter @ The Bunka
6:30pm, Tue 2 Mar 2010
I’m no fan of reality TV. At all. I think it’s lowest-common-denominator television, put together by people more interested in increasing profits than providing quality entertainment. It preys on people’s insecurities and prejudices, twists words and conjures emotions in the search for ratings, with scant regard for the welfare of those participating – or watching.
OK, off the soapbox now. But that, pretty much, is what Hell West is all about.
Amelia Jane Hunter, for some inexplicable reason (glibly described as “a fall from grace”), wound up as a contestant on a New Zealand reality show, Island Wars. As one might guess from the title, this show pitted Kiwi against Aussie against Mother Nature on a tropical island, with the production team seemingly doing everything they could to keep the antagonism near boiling point. The tales of their interference are eye-opening (and the description of their unofficial rule-book, and the contestants’ rebellion against the producers, a delight); the resultant clips that Hunter showed were almost shocking when coupled with her backstory.
When I last saw Hunter (during her Meat – The Musical co-production with Hannah Gadsby), she had great stage presence – and she didn’t let the small crowd down at all, as she went through her onstage vent, flipping between raucous rage and wrenching despair. And it’s that latter emotion that lingers after long after Hell West And Crooked is over; Hunter takes us through not only the abusive (and, yes, sometimes literally unbelievably funny) filming of the show itself, but also through the therapy she needed after filming was over. And that’s a humbling takeaway from this performance; sure, Hunter told her story well, but walking away from the show knowing that she’d damn near completely broken down as a result of this “light entertainment” made the presentation almost… ummm… regretful.
I’m glad to have been part of Amelia Jane Hunter’s catharsis; I’m just sorry that she had to tell the story at all.