A car pulls up in front of Tanzquartier Vienna, blasting rowdy electronic music. An androgynous figure in baggy clothes (Oona Doherty) tumbles out of the trunk and breaks into a disarticulated bop. The driver, head shaven and wearing anonymous sportswear, nonchalantly rolls a fag, only joining in the occasional synchronised fist bump. At times, Doherty ferociously stares down audience members, or hugs them with heartwarming enthusiasm. She eventually herds everyone back inside the theatre, yelling orders with a thick Irish accent.
The space reeks of cheap cologne. One corner is littered with beer cans and pizza boxes, a shrine to pre-gaming and brutal hangovers. With both grace and rage, Doherty throws herself around the space, spitting out garbled sounds which become words, which transform into broken sentences, which disintegrate into incomprehensible grunts. This struggling train of thoughts is sometimes interrupted by the deepest chain-smoker cough, reiterated until it evokes drum’n’bass beatbox MCs.
Doherty’s character is the disadvantaged white male, and she incarnates his mannerisms with such accuracy that it becomes uncanny, triggering and riveting. Briefly, she invokes an estranged uncle who ‘used to take them to cultural events and shit’, compellingly confronting us with the blatant privilege it is to be in Vienna’s Museumsquartier, a major European cultural institution. Like a white-trash chameleon, she transforms from British wasted raver, to Italian macho football fan, to French cat-caller, reminding us of the global plague which is toxic masculinity.
Yet as she strips to a white Adidas tracksuit, the music morphs into canticles interwoven with verbal abuse. Shining a hallowed light on the boorish hetero male, Doherty constantly layers beauty with damnation such that Hope Hunt transcends stereotypical portraiture to attain an elevated, even exalted perspective. Amen to that.