From the moment the clock struck midnight on 1 January 2012, there was one word on everyone’s minds and lips in the United Kingdom – Olympics. Having unfortunately (and slightly stereotypically as a ‘arts’ person) little interest in sport, I was thinking more about the release of the Les Misérables film in December, but The Games is a play that proves there is a place for theatre in sport and vice versa, the two don’t have to be enemies.
The Games is set up as a lost Greek play, discovered and pieced back together over 15 years by three eccentric academics and the performance we see is its first for centuries. Greek theatre techniques such as shadows, puppets, song and rhyming verse are used to create a lively and exciting performance.
The three actors – Liam Tobin, Mark Keemar Smith and Keddy Sutton – prove themselves to be multitalented performers, I cannot say a bad word about them. They sang, they danced, they multi-roled, the comic timing was superb and my hat goes off to them for their bravery – for at least half of the show they are wearing nothing more than pairs of flesh coloured pants with prosthetic appendages attached.
Indeed, it’s a shame that there is so much nudity as I believe this would be a great show to tour around schools in this year of the London Olympics, it’s packed full of silliness that kids would love as well as being educational (even I learnt some new things). Interaction with the audience was amusing and I loved being able to sing along with the final number as they held the words up on a board for us.
The costumes worn for the Mount Olympus scenes were very clever indeed, the simple placing of some embroidery around the edges turned what looked like a duvet into the robe of a god, complete with clouds around his feet. Mark Keemar Smith’s head attached the muscular baby-body of Hercules was a sight to behold.
The only criticism I can make is that the scene involving Darius and Stanzas slipping over in oil goes on just a little too long. Slapstick humour generally leaves me cold and after they’d done it three or four times I was eager for them to move on to the next gag.
The funniest moment in the show was actually unintentional and I must give the actors credit for their perseverance with the scene. During a simulated chariot race, Keemar Smith and Sutton were acting as speaking horses, wearing false horse’s teeth and miming to a pre-recorded sound clip of dialogue. As Sutton began to mouth the dialogue, her false teeth started slipping out of her mouth and since her hands were occupied in ‘galloping’ she could only purse her lips over them to stop them from falling out completely. I don’t know what was funnier – her brave attempt to continue the performance though she could no longer mime along with the sound clip, or Mark Keemar Smith’s face which was practically turning purple as he tried to stop himself from laughing. Watching it all unfold produced actual tears of laughter.
To conclude, The Games is worth seeing if only to watch a man wearing nothing but a thong, sandals and two white gloves make a penis puppet crawl across the stage to the theme from Mission Impossible. A slick, inventive and hysterically funny show. Don’t miss it.