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Game

Published March 5, 2015

What’s it all about?

It’s not often a journalist will ask people not to read an article, but in this case, it might just be justified. If you’re already sold on seeing Mike Bartlett’s latest provocative piece, my advice would be to do just that – you won’t be sorry you have, I’ll tell you that much – and go without giving into the temptation of Google to experience every surprise first hand.

For everyone else, here are as few spoilers as it’s possible to get by on…

First things first, forget proscenium arches and interval ice-creams, Game is an entirely new theatrical experience. Split into four zones, audiences wait (nervously) to be taken to their designated seats – well, benches – in cordoned off tented areas that feel more like Paintball waiting rooms than a theatre.

With headphones to hear every breath of the action through, screens live streaming camera footage of areas out of your eye line, everything on a peeping Tom’s checklist is made available to you as you are invited to watch Carly and Ashley, a couple who have agreed to live their life under the watchful gaze of the public in exchange for lavish furnishings and free rent. So far, so Big Brother. But here comes Bartlett’s disturbing twist as a stag do enters your zone and they’re in the mood for hunting…

Who’s in it?

Jodie McNee and Mike Noble are astonishing as the couple who cook, fight, sleep and have sex in front of our voyeuristic eyes. Making it seem completely believable that a young married couple with few job prospects and no way to get on the housing ladder would choose the option of living both publically and in a war zone in exchange for a hot tub and financial security, their performances are unsettling naturalistic, making it all the more uncomfortable viewing.

Kevin Harvey provides a dose of humanity as an ex-soldier who is hired to help the paying guests  load their guns and take their shot over champagne and banter, bringing Bartlett’s astute exploration of class and prejudice into sharp relief as the flow of plummy accented costumers and half-cut birthday revellers arrive to take aim and experience the thrill of the kill.

What should I look out for?

The moment Noble’s Ashley pleads for a moment of privacy. I bet you don’t close your eyes.

In a nutshell?

Mike Bartlett continues his reign as arguably the UK’s most exciting rising playwright with this unnerving, disorientating, brutal and dark theatrical triumph.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@markbrown14 Very much recommend Game at #Almeida, like nothing I’ve seen! Shooting the unemployed, not usually my thing… the play was great

@AkucBol Went to see Game at the Almeida Theatre. Very innovative and particularly well-staged. Would definitely watch it again! @AlmeidaTheatre

Will I like it?

Forget like it, I’d safely bet that fans of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror and anyone with a taste for dystopian future novels will downright love this immersive experience.  Not bothered by either? Don’t worry, this is a startling piece of theatre by the unstoppable directing/designer team Sacha Wares and Miriam Buether that throws up a million and one questions that will have you on edge long past its speedy hour running time. It is the first show I’ve seen that has made me feel like I need to take a shower. Weird, but the best compliment I could pay to Bartlett’s terrifying vision.

Game is playing until 4 April. You can book tickets through the Almeida Theatre’s website.

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