Fringe review: The Final Hours

The bomb’s gone off. You’ve survived the blast. How long would it take for you to lose the plot when faced with a life of total solitude? ★★★ ½

Mar 05, 2020, updated Mar 05, 2020

A bearded man carrying a briefcase enters a bunker – a makeshift radio station cobbled together from battered bits of old technology. He takes off his gas mask and changes into a shabby brown dressing gown.

Victor Bravo, sole staff member at Apocalypse FM, has a show to present. As he rambles his way through segments including calls and messages from listeners, musical interludes and episodes of a radio play (The Continuing Adventures of Onion Boy), he muses about loneliness and life after a nuclear disaster. He’s the creator of the world’s best (or quite possibly the world’s ONLY) radio show, and for all he knows he could be broadcasting to a fan base of zero.

The Final Hours Hour is the seventh full-length solo show from Melbourne-based writer and comedian Ben Volchok. In addition to radio and podcasting work and his performances in the Melbourne Fringe and Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Volchok has been published in magazines including Funny Ha Ha and Going Down Swinging, and he’s a past winner of The University of Melbourne’s Campus Comedy competition. For his first Adelaide Fringe outing, Volchok brings a dark, reflective piece of theatre that is a blend of comedy and chaos.

The show takes place in a small room with the performance space at the same level as the audience. At times, this makes it hard to see what’s going on. Victor shuffles around his studio, sometimes dead inside, sometimes cautiously optimistic. Mundane conversations and corny jokes sit uncomfortably alongside the misery and longing of a man grieving the loss of his family and searching for meaning in a hopeless situation.

It turns out the end of the world as we know it is equal parts tedious and terrifying. As he dispenses advice on everything from tracksuit stains to ingrown toenails, Victor slogs his way through his show with the help of the only food still in plentiful supply – the humble onion.

The Final Hours Hour is an often messy, frequently silly, sometimes shouty peek into the mind of a man driven to despair by circumstances beyond his control. Victor is desperate to connect, and we, the audience, connect best with him when he reveals his fear and vulnerability.

Whether you love it or find it a challenge, The Final Hours Hour offers an invitation to contemplate what makes a life worth living.

The Final Hours Hour is showing at Holden Street Theatres until March 15. 

See more Fringe and Festival stories and reviews here.


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