In 1936, two-fisted archaeologist Indiana Jones is recruited by the US Government to prevent the rising Nazi Party from getting their hands on the ancient Ark of the Covenant. Aided by his former lover Marion Ravenwood and hunted by mercenary scholar Belloq, Indy …
What the hell am I doing?
Quick show of hands—who here hasn’t seen all three Indiana Jones films? Anyone? Anyone? (We’re not counting the fourth one, of course, because no one ever does.) I didn’t think so. No one needs a plot synopsis of Harrison Ford’s career highlights (or of Temple of Doom).
Let us look, then, at Raiders of the Temple of Doom’s Last Crusade, which is a one-man performance of all three Indiana Jones films in a single hour. That’s a straightforward enough concept— no need to break it down further. The question: is it any good?
And the answer is yes, it’s good; it’s freakin’ hilarious. Stephen Hall throws everything he has into his show, chaining together all the best bits of the films in a high-energy performance that leaves him sweating by the end. There are minimal props in the mix—a hat, a trunk, a map—along with lighting changes and the occasional use of shadow puppetry. But by far the biggest prop is Hall himself, jumping around the stage to re-enact scenes, miming all the important tools (including Indy’s bullwhip) and making all his own sound effects. And it’s not just Indy on stage; Hall plays the part of every major character, including the women and (sigh) Short Round—and he does a pretty mean Sean Connery.
Raiders of the Temple of Doom’s Last Crusade is a really engaging, fun show that celebrates the joy of these classic adventure movies. Using the dialogue, storylines and energy of the films, plus some judicious editing, it packs five hours of enjoyment into one dense and captivating hour that’s really worth seeing.
It’s also a stark and pointed reminder that oh yeah, Temple of Doom was terrible. And pretty racist. But still better than that one with Shia LaBeouf.
Raiders of the Temple of Doom’s Last Crusade is playing 20 September to 5 October at the Melbourne Fringe Festival.