Watson Go To Hell!

Sofia Monkiewicz

This hilarious fright-fest is an action-packed combination of fun, laughter and scares.
Watson Go To Hell!

Watson made up of Tegan Higginbotham, Adam McKenzie and Liam Ryan. Photograph by James Penlidis.

Think of your deepest, darkest fear, and then imagine a world where this particular fear doesn’t scare the hell out of you. This is the world that Watson wants to make a reality. Their brand new show Go To Hell! playing at The Coopers Malthouse as part of the 2017 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, explores a range of common (and some not so common) fears, and attempts to remove the scare-factor from them, mainly by presenting them one by one to their increasingly nervous audience.

The show revolves around a two-step program that Watson have created to combat fear, which they demonstrate through an enthusiastic seminar. The first step of the program is to face these fears and allow them to truly terrify, while the second involves a mysterious wooden box, which contains a secret so frightening that it simply cannot be mentioned in this review.

In the process of instigating this program, Watson perform various sketches and tell scary stories designed to both invoke terror and laughter; their mission being to rid us of the (mostly) irrational fears we all have.

We hear stories about ghosts and murder, are forced to face creepy clowns and terrifying toys, and are also witness to a little bit of gore; but all with an undertone of ridiculous hilarity. Steven Gates’ direction has the performers moving all over the space, from the stage to the audience to the rafters of the theatre. This prevents the audience from getting too comfortable as a new horror could appear from any direction at any time.

Watson are made up of Tegan Higginbotham, Adam McKenzie and Liam Ryan; three oddball comedians who effortlessly bring to life scenes of terror spun with utter silliness. Higginbotham combines dramatic enthusiasm with quirky one-liners, and her wide-eyed facial expressions add to the hilarity of her character. McKenzie is the seemingly self-appointed leader, with a manic energy that fills every dark corner of the horror-filled theatre. Ryan is the self-deprecating goof of the trio, but is also the most level-headed person on stage in that he voices his doubts about McKenzie’s grand plans.

From the beginning of the performance, it is made clear that Higginbotham and Ryan are supposed to be following a carefully devised script created by McKenzie, despite often blatantly messing up their lines. The script is exaggerated fun, and the way in which the trio constantly stray from the words McKenzie has crafted for them gives the overall show a spontaneous and unhinged feel.

The first half of Go To Hell! is a tighter performance than the second half. The sketches are strung together effortlessly, the transitions are quick and seamless, and it is more interactive and laugh-out-loud funny. The second half, while intentionally darker as the narrative moves toward a climax, is messier, with long pauses between scenes and clunky sound changes. Despite this, the out-of-control running-around-and-yelling-a-lot mania that encompasses the final 15 minutes is enthralling to watch. McKenzie’s touching story in the spotlight about his all-too-real fear also adds some poignancy to an otherwise silly show.

A special mention must be given to Gillian Lever, who created the scary soundtrack for the show. A mixture of blood-curdling shrieks, eerie unidentifiable noises and dramatic musical tones, the sounds successfully build an uneasy atmosphere as they resonate throughout the theatre. Combined with long silences and shadowy lighting, the soundtrack perfectly constructs a horror theme.

No matter if you’re a fan of the horror genre or not, Go To Hell! will undoubtedly have you sitting on the edge of your seat; whether this is due to captivating comedy or nightmarish nerves is dependent on your own personal fear threshold. Either way, this hilarious fright-fest is an action-packed combination of fun, laughter and scares that may just help you get over your greatest fears.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Go To Hell!

Written & Performed by Watson (Tegan Higginbotham, Liam Ryan and Adam McKenzie)
Directed by Steven Gates

The Coopers Malthouse, Beckett Theatre

30 March – 23 April

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Sofia Monkiewicz is a Melbourne-based arts writer and reviewer. You can find her on Twitter at: @sofiamonk