The two Liverpool performances, last night and tonight at the Unity, are part of a short tour road-testing this brand new production. And The Games, by our very own Spike Theatre, shows an awful lot of promise.
It tells the story of three athletes fated to make their way to the ancient Olympic Games. Bumbling poet Stanzas (Jamie Wood) and loveable dope Darrius (Liam Tobin) come across an all-knowing Oracle who orders them to compete despite a distinct lack of sporting prowess; on the way they meet Hermaphrodite (Lauren Silver), who is desperate to try her luck despite women being barred from the competition. But up above the mortal world, a wager among the gods is set to cause even more setbacks.
This clever, frantic set up is played with charm by the trio, the kind of manic slapstick comedy that only benefits from an excited fluff or a bump into a bit of the set. A busy soundtrack helps to build up a great atmosphere, including some hilarious songs. The fearless clowning of the whole cast is really first rate, and although it comes with a promise of “willies”, this is handled purely for laughs and is surprisingly, admirably smut-free.
Well-written, bursting with laugh-out-loud moments, and enthusiastically performed, this is the kind of energetic, warm and funny show that could make a real splash at the Edinburgh Fringe. Because The Games is independent theatre at its most inventive, imaginative and fun. A lively reminder of what an asset grass roots theatre companies like Spike can be, in the face of troubling times for the arts. A comedy that really hits the spot and hopefully has a very bright future, it will be great to see how it evolves.