Reviews Bristol Published 23 October 2015

Game

Bristol Old Vic Studio ⋄ 20th - 24th October 2015

Geek Chic.

Rosemary Waugh
Credit: Jack Offord

Credit: Jack Offord

Thanks to the fashion world’s invention of Geek Chic, being a ‘geek’ is actually now cool. But as someone who was most certainly not cool at school, I beg to differ on this point of fashion lexicon. For whilst Cara might looks cute with something close to a monobrow and Tavi’s normcore celebration came to its logical conclusion in Lily-Rose’s ThisIsNotFashion bob, the fact is that what Karl Lagerfeld thinks of as ‘geeky’ remains the pistachio macaron equivalent to a true geek’s egg sandwich.

We would like to think that Manic Pixie Dream Girls love gaming but unfortunately for teenage boys the world over it’s literally in their name that their existence is based on REM patterning. So step aside doe-eyed fakers and welcome on to the Bristol Old Vic Studio stage three men who really deserve the title of geek (and I say that with all the possible love in my heart). Game, performed by Michael Bell (also the writer), Ryan Murphy and Louis Lamprell, is a random mishmash of circus skits, 1990s pop culture references and the kind of weird dares you thought up when bored and hanging out, aged 14, in someone’s garage. Let’s brush over concerns regarding why teenagers are often encouraged and compelled to hangout in suburban garages and return to the show: Game is hilarious. I laughed like I was right back at King Lear with Sheep (Google it, then book a ticket). It’s properly silly in a way that only a show where part of the comedy is based on funny walks can be.

In that respect, Game finds its precedent in a host of slapstick and old-fashioned comedies. It’s Dad’s Army’s Godfrey panicking as the cricket ball sails towards him and all the other BBC replays that serve to salvage the only enjoyable parts from tense family Christmases across the country. Although there are obvious moments of genuine skill – the ladder-climbing being one of them – many of the funniest parts of this show come from the silliness; this is old fashioned ‘clowning around’, as they say on school reports, which makes it a show a man like Hyman Krustofsky would certainly not enjoy.

Replete with references to a time before ubiquitous iPhones, Game is perhaps a show that people of a very specific age will enjoy most. Between 1992 and 2002, Channel 4 broadcast Football Italia into many a home on a Saturday morning. Flash back to my Primary School PE lesson and Milly has just scored the one, the only, the most fantastic goal for – yes, Mrs. Pankhurst – the girls’ team against the boys and so, in hysterical slowmo runs circles round the playground screaming at the top of her lungs: GOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL!!!!!! And we all have not only Paul Gascoigne but also the teaching staff to thank for the fact we – heroic in our victory nonetheless – were thoroughly bollocked for disrupting the rest of the school ‘with our horrible noise’. I don’t understand why shouting GOAL for a long time in the style of Football Italia is funny, only we all know it is and I thank Lamprell for taking me back to that super memory one autumn night in Bristol, 2015.

There are times when the dialogue could move slightly quicker and the humour is very much of one type – fantastic if you like Fail Army and Super Mario – but if it’s not your thing (and humour is so subjective) then it’s unlikely to win you over. The voice (Rachel Pollard) that accompanies the show is like the better audio equivalent of those up-dated Ladybird books for adults and gives necessary structure to a show of many different parts. This is a flat-out fun show and the almost weirdly perfect thing to have seen on Back to the Future Day, 21st October 2015.

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Rosemary Waugh

Rosemary is a freelance arts and theatre journalist, who regularly writes for Time Out and The Stage.

Game Show Info


Written by Michael Bell

Cast includes Michael Bell, Louis Lamprey, Ryan Murphy and Rachel Pollard

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