The opening night of this 10-date tour, set the bar high for its upcoming 9 shows.
A buzzing foyer of the theatre followed into the auditorium, filled with anticipation of what the evening’s events were going to fold into. The opening of ‘If you Wanna’, by The Vaccines suddenly poured out from the speakers signifying that the audience had better be prepared for what was about to begin. Brights lights were flashing and television screens with “High Performance” in a bold graphic lowered into view.
Norwich Theatre was then introduced to the High Performance hosts Jake Humphrey and Damian Hughes.
“Are you ready to make the most of your one shot at life?”
This simple sentence was like a dart hitting the bullseye and everyone was here to find out if they were ready for that chance.
Jake Humphrey, born in Norwich, was naturally sentimental to start the first leg of this tour in the hometown, and went to the theatre as a child theatre that he had grown up in. This seemed to resonate with the audience. Naturally as a presenter, he led many of these audience interactions and spoke as though he was with his friends in the pub. This relationship was endearing and certainly engaging.
On the other hand Damian Hughes; Professor, international speaker and author took a slightly contrasting approach. He was softer with audience and gently pushed them into reacting and participating. Damian’s stage presence was authentic, arguably he may have been out of his comfort zone and nervous, however he used this to compliment the messages that are relayed in their podcast.
The opposites in their approach on the stage balanced well, it was enjoyable to see their relationship visually, and moving to see how impactful their relationship is. It was extremely humbling and empowering to witness such high-profile people discuss their internal struggles and past setbacks in such a vulnerable, yet intimate environment.
As well as emotional, High Performance was visually and aurally impactful. A use of screens supported Jake and Damian, helping to deliver quotes as well as data. It also allowed the audience to see the faces that belonged to those familiar voices that they had heard in their headphones. It added an extra dimension to the show and made it more personal to the audience and they had picked out particular clips to play after certain moments of discussion. At times this could have been viewed as slightly repetitive, but like they said, “we’re trying our best” and it was charming nonetheless.
A sense of camaraderie was created as Jake and Damian’s audience were encouraged to engage with each other in the interval. Some may argue it being cheesy but this homed in on the need for belonging that so many had looked to High Performance for, and not many live shows can offer that. High Performance Live spoke to the everyday person, many of which were in the audience. This heavily male demographic was open to receiving knowledge as well advice on how they can improve their daily lives. This was reflected in guest speaker Owen O’Kane. Owen was charming and personable, he touched upon some of the darker periods of his life to give context to his points, without delving in too deep. In his 20-minute talk, he was able to teach the audience, a plethora of lessons without bombarding them with information. He delivered with passion and style which made it so easy to listen to.
It can be difficult to keep up the energy and pace in such a comprehensive live show. The effective use of audience participation, with the Guess Who game and Q and A section, allowed the audience to have a moment of pause without having to completely disengage with the show or leave the theatre.
Another element added to the show was live music. Singer, songwriter and producer, Kye Sones performed twice throughout the night. His voice was so raw and beautiful. He managed to capture the evening’s feelings into the songs, Remember, (originally sung by Becky Hill) and an original, My Mind and Me. It could be said that the audience may have benefited from hearing more about him. He came across as a performer to add entertainment value rather than a guest. This being said, he did give the audience time to reflect on what they digested throughout the evening.
High Performance invited its audience to take a piece of their show home through the lessons that they had taught throughout. It’s a show for those who have the capacity to do more than just watch. It was truly an experience that differs from other standard podcast tours and showed why the podcast is so popular. The root of their work is people, no matter who they were they made their audience the heart of their work. That is what made it so extraordinary.
Written by Liberty Corrie