Ihave talked before about how much I enjoy immersive theatre, being part of the action can be fun and exciting, even a bit of a thrill.
Last week, I saw a new play by Mike Bartlett (of King Charles III fame) called Game at the Almeida, a play that wasn’t billed as immersive and yet I have seen few things that have made me feel quite so complicit in the action. It’s an experience that will stay with me for a long time.
The description on the Almeida website is deliberately vague:
In a housing crisis, a young couple are offered a home of their own. But at what price?
This gently hints at what is a truly chilling narrative, but as I did not look at any reviews beforehand, I had no idea what was in for, which contributed to the suspense.
Each audience member is given a large pair of headphones, as we are walking into a most unusual set. The headphones are worn throughout the play, which has the effect of making you feel isolated from everyone else in the audience and also completely immersed in the action. The audience is also segmented into small box-like sections, with a dark barrier where you’d expect the stage and a number of TV monitors. This contributes to the heightened tension before it even begins.
It starts with sound coming through the headphones as the monitors come to life. A young couple are viewing a modern and well decorated house, they are very excited about moving there and discuss starting a family. As the curtain finally rises, the house with the couple is revealed. At the same time you hear (thought you do not see it at first) another conversation, this is hard to discern, but it appears to be a job interview. Eventually one of the screens shows a man in a military uniform getting a job, the job comes with a gun.
I don’t want to reveal the plot, as it’s worth seeing it uninformed. All I am going to say is that as it ended there was no applause, and the set up really doesn’t allow for it, but we all sat there in stunned silence for a long moment before hurrying to get out, to leave it all behind.
Nevertheless, this is definitely a play worth seeing. Just make sure to read the warnings:
The production contains nudity, startling noises and acts some people may consider violent.
Game closes this Saturday, but tickers are still available from the Almeida Theatre website.