We are invited to spy on a family as they explore a dangerous new way to live in Mike Bartlett’s new play Game, directed by Sacha Wares at the Almeida Theatre.
The theatre itself has been entirely reconfigured and the audience ushered into various zones and watch the action on video screens and through screen-like panels which slide open and slam shut at different points. Indeed Miriam Buether’s imaginative design makes us complicit voyeurs snooping on a young Liverpudlian couple (Mike Noble and Jodie McNee) in their smart new home they go about their daily lives. But this is no bland domestic routine as the price they have to pay to get a home of their own is that strangers pay large sums of money to observe their actions – eating, sleeping, making love – and are free to take pot shots at them using tranquiliser bullets engaging in some sort of deranged video game.
Bartlett’s invasive and unnerving fable finds a mordant metaphor for a society in which young people are unable to get on the property ladder and standards of privacy are debased. But the trouble with this short one-hour play is that it is more of a concept than a fully fleshed-out drama. We are given scant information about the couple involved, the individuals supplied with rifles who have signed up to take part in the ‘Game’ or the Mr Big behind it all. It certainly acts as a chilling warning to the degrading depths to which society could sink if unchecked, but it needed greater clarity and insight to fully achieve its purpose.
I should add, though, that it is often queasily comic, has a tight pace and a surprisingly poignant twist.
Runs at the Almeida Theatre until Saturday 4 April 2015
Box office: 020 7359 4404Last modified: June 9, 2021