The Games is a fantastic little show that has developed over the last couple of years from a one-off at the Unity to a success on the Edinburgh Fringe, and now a full on touring production. Hooray for Spike Theatre (for it is they), and their tenancity and determination in putting it about, as it were.
The show is an ‘undiscovered classic by Aristophanes’… or is it? Introduced by one of our players, Liam Tobin, the show begins. The trio behind the production play themselves, as well as a hapless trio of Greeks, endowed with gifts from the gods to compete in the ancient Olympic games. Tobin, Keddy Sutton and Mark Kemar Smith are, of course, the gods as well as required, right down to their little cloud-shaped slippers.
Will Darius the farm hand make it as a charioteer? Will Stanzas, the poet, figure out what he’s in for as a pugilist? And what’s stopping Hermaphrodite making it to the games at all?
Stuffed full of clowning, puns, songs, physical theatre, wit and fun, The Games is one of the funniest, sweetest and most endearing original plays to come out of Liverpool in recent years, there’s just no doubt about that. While Smith is an hilarious straight man as useless poet Stanzas, and Sutton shines with songs like ‘Oh Dad’, it’s Tobin who really seems to fling his all into the performance. The brilliant scene in the ‘undressing room’, where the characters start to slip about on the floor after oiling themselves up for competition, has to be one of the funniest things ever seen on the Unity stage.
The Games is co-directed by Smith and Spymonkey’s Toby Park, who just brought their own Greek comedy Oedipussy to the Playhouse. Oedipussy may have had the bigger profile, but it’s The Games that had the joy and the heart.
“If you liked the show, tell a friend! If you didn’t… lie! Support the classics!” our characters conclude at the end of the show. The kind of self-depreciating gag that would only ever work from a company who knew they were in the clear.
Photo: John Garfield-Roberts