Theatre review: Game at Almeida Theatre
- Credit: Keith Pattison
This game of homes feels light on drama, says Caroline David.
Mike Bartlett’s brilliantly conceived Game at the Almeida transposes the practice of computer gaming into a chilling, dystopian future full of shocks and surprises.
The Almeida is transformed into four areas with benches and camouflage print cushions; audience members are handed headsets by ushers so they can listen in on the action partly mediated through large TV screens. Seating is intimate, claustrophobic. A heavy screen draws back to reveal Miriam Buether’s spectacular set: a glass box shielding a modern interior that’s all spanking white mod cons and anodyne furniture.
Enter the players: Liverpool working-class Ashley [Mike Noble] and Carly [Jodie McNee] who want to start a family but cannot afford to buy a home and are prepared to enter into a Faustian pact to trade off their privacy Big Brother-style for domestic stability.
But the game here is far more sinister. As the players’ vital statistics flash up on the scene, we realize they are our real-life targets for sedation. An ex-army warden [Kevin Harvey] monitors the stream of punters: a bitter, middle-aged couple, a working class group of girls sharing a birthday treat, a Sloane Ranger who is turned on by seeing his fiancé hold a gun, and they are all happy to pay premium prices for the privilege of this new sport.
You may also want to watch:
Once the scenario is compellingly established, Bartlett’s storytelling falters: the questions raised are huge and Sacha Wares’ production is top heavy on style. The issues couldn’t be more urgent: the housing crisis, unemployment, the brutalizing effect of war. It’s all served up with some highly distressing scenes but the journey is swift [60 minutes] and the dramatic pay-off too pat. This laudably ambitious enterprise is both seductive and thrilling, but ultimately not enough.
Rating: 3/5 stars
- 1 Dangerous driving complaints spur Holloway right-turn bans
- 2 Covid-19 cases start to drop off in Islington
- 3 Emirates pop-up Covid-19 vaccine clinic opens for a second time
- 4 Former Islington BC Slavisa Gegic fighter visits his old club
- 5 Escape in Islington this weekend: Lovely food and great new shows
- 6 Two new sixth forms planned for Islington and Hackney
- 7 The situation in North London as Arsenal come up against Spurs
- 8 More than 1,000 knives surrendered in Islington’s knife bins
- 9 Clapped in the street - and assaulted: Staff call for behaviour change in A&E
- 10 Lidl opens! First shoppers enjoy Finsbury Park supermarket