GAME To 4 April.


by Mike Bartlett.

Almeida Theatre Almeida Street Islington N1 1TA To 4 April 2015.
Mon-Sat 7pm & 9.30pm Mat Sat 4pm .
Audio-described 28 March 4pm (+ Touch Tour 2.15pm).
Captioned 24 March 24 7pm.
Runs 1hr No interval.

TICKETS: 020 7359 4404 (24 hours).
Review: Carole Woddis 7 March.

Serious play.
In our surveillance, sex-obsessed world, there’s a new kind of `big-game’ hunting available. `Just a bit of fun’ is how one club owner describes the practise of installing two-way mirrors so male customers can pay to watch their female equivalents in the toilet and changing areas, unbeknown to the women.

Mike Bartlett, ever a writer with a sharp eye for social disharmonies, has taken that `fun’ and created an extraordinary peep-show for the 21st century – a toxic mix of voyeurism, fairground shooting-galleries and the post-traumatic stress effect on returning soldiers.

Game rubs our noses in it. What people do today for `entertainment’ and what young couples find themselves forced to consider in order to put a decent roof over their heads come clashing up against each other noxiously in Game.

Carly and Ashley have `sold’ themselves to an entrepreneur who has installed a shooting-gallery where punters can pay to shoot them. In a dream house, we watch Carly and Ashley doing increasingly intimate as well as domestic things – even to trying to make a baby – as punters, sloshing back the champagne, come in and `shoot’ them.

Of course, they rise again. They’re being shot at by darts. For all that, it’s a troubling experience sitting in the reconfigured Almeida, transformed by director Sasha Wares and designer Miriam Buether into four, two-way-mirrored zones, watching on screens, through headphones, live and pre-recorded scenes.

The ultimate in the use of modern theatre technology, if all this leaves a nasty taste in the mouth, that presumably is what Bartlett intends – to highlight our increasingly bankrupt moral and commercial values and the effect upon the young of video games.

A laudable aim, but I’m not sure the technical side doesn’t overwhelm the point. Barely an hour long, even so it feels repetitive, despite a late twist concerning the ex-soldier and PTS. I also began to feel uncomfortable about a certain exploitation of the actors.

I love the chutzpah of Rupert Goold’s Almeida. But I couldn’t help wondering if, with two shows a night, management aren’t guilty of their own `big game hunting’.

Belle: Georgina Beedle.
Liam: Oscar Bennett.
Florence/Margaret: Clare Burt.
John/Paul: Daniel Cerqueira.
Soldier (in projection): Laurence Grant.
David: Kevin Harvey.
Mandy: Chloe Hesar.
Carly: Jodie McNee.
Liam: Jonah Miller.
Ashley: Mike Noble.
Simon: Ben Righton.
Liam: Ben Roberts.
Gary: Richard Sumitro.
Sarah/Emma: Susan Wokoma.

Director: Sacha Wares.
Design: Miriam Buether.
Costume: Alex Lowde.
Lighting: Jack Knowles.
Sound: Gareth Fry.
Video: Leo Warner for 59 Productions.
Movement: Leon Baugh.
Dialect coach: Charmian Helen Hoare.
Assistant director: Anthony Almeida.

World premiere of Game at the Almeida Theatre, London 23 February 2015.

2015-03-08 23:32:24

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