Game by Mike Bartlett, Almeida Theatre, 28 February 2015

This was a truly shocking piece. In a good way.

Shocking, as in, it left us feeling really quite shaken and discombobulated.

In a way, this was immersive theatre. The Almeida was reconfigured, such that the audience was divided into sections in sort-of booths, from which you could see some of the action live and the rest on screens. You have to wear headphones to hear everything, which increases the confusion between the real and the virtual.

The conceit of the play is that some people who cannot afford good housing choose to live in an attractive-looking home, but the price is that they are spied upon by sadistic paying customers who are allowed to shoot stun darts at the residents “for fun”.

It is a horrible thought. The story plays out in interesting ways, not all predictable. The experience is disconcerting, because, as an audience member, you feel somewhat complicit in the voyeurism and sadism playing out before your eyes and on the screen. Occasionally some of the action takes place within your booth itself.

It made us think about the housing crisis, the ways that computer games and so-called reality television are encroaching on people’s lives and more besides.

 

Excellent resource on the Almeida site about this play/production, including quotes from many reviews and links to full text for some – sparing me the trouble – click here.

We left the Almeida genuinely feeling in a state of shock and spent much of the remainder of the weekend talking about this play/production.

An Almeida special as far as we were concerned.

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