The Reality Event: GAME
The Suicide Ensemble
May 12 – 17 2015
Reviewed by Katelyn Panagiris
GAME represents one half of THE REALITY EVENT – a double bill of work directed by Daniel Gough and devised by The Suicide Ensemble for Anywhere Theatre Festival. The premise of THE REALITY EVENT is simple, and the result chaotic…
“This is theatre for the people. Two performances: SUICIDE and GAME. Each plays a part in finding out what your world is really made of. We’ve made something big. But it’s time to burn it down. Come be destructive with us.”
It had been a long time since I’d been this excited for a performance.
As I walked through a dark alleyway on my way to the venue, performers donned in rubbish bags greeted me and directed me to the entrance of Bean Cafe. I knew I was in for a gritty night. The underground café, while small, proved to be an inviting and energetic space – the perfect venue for an “underground” performance. Back in the alleyway, the hosts laid down the rules, the performers were introduced, and inside, the game began. Over the next hour, five performers, supported by their team of audience members, battled it out for the title of winner. I witnessed as balloons were popped with a large rubber object, eggs were thrown at dancing performers and a mix of yoghurt, spam and gherkins was hesitantly consumed.
At this stage you may be having trouble imagining all of this, and that’s because GAME is a work that needs to be experienced.
It’s important to acknowledge that its origins lie in the tradition of performance art more than theatre, with clear influences from international companies such as Gob Squad. GAME has no characters, no set and no script. And without you (the audience), it would not exist.
This emphasis on audience participation and improvisation means that not only will each performance be different, but each audience member’s response to the performance will be different. I get the sense that this individual response is what GAME is all about.
For me, GAME was a playful experience made possible by the vibrant energy and personality of each of the performers. Their commitment was admirable, and their sense of fun infectious. The whole performance felt like an echo of my generation – the type of perverse thing that I’d watch on YouTube with my friends and laugh. While physical audience participation was relatively minimal, I felt engaged and involved throughout, cheering for “Team Pavle” from the sidelines.
As the game progressed and the tasks became more cringe-worthy, I found it difficult to watch. But still, I couldn’t look away. What did this say about me? About my generation? These were interesting questions but I’m not sure they were the ones The Suicide Ensemble was asking. In fact, for all its moments of brilliant fun and dark play, I felt the intention of GAME was unclear. I left the performance questioning the significance of my response in light of their intent: what was the point of this game?
There is no denying that the audience has been considered when creating GAME, however; this type of work, which relies so heavily on the audience’s involvement can reveal a gap between intent and reception in performance. As the ensemble itself says, “In truth, we’re never sure how it’s going to go…because you aren’t there yet.” While GAME is a well-considered and carefully structured piece, I feel there is potential for it to be developed further, incorporating audience feedback from this first development.
GAME has the potential to ask more, to push the boundaries further and to include the audience more completely. But in this underground cafe are the beginnings of a new work that is young, fresh and ambitious.
It’s fun. It’s rebellious, and most importantly it’s the type of work you really don’t want to just hear about second hand.