Play: the Game – Haunting and Eccentric

 

Play: The Game Or Game: The Play is an exercise in experimental theater unlike anything I have ever seen. Glen (Rick Burkhardt) invites his friends Jonas (Jermaine Golden), Liz (Jayne McClendon) and Carl (John Noble Barrack) over to his apartment to play a board game that requires the players to complete missions during the Blitz in London in 1940. During the Blitz, Germany dropped bombs all over the city, which resulted in widespread devastation.

Spending two hours watching people playing a board game would be unbearably tedious, so Burkhardt, who wrote Play: The Game, has his characters become citizens of London during the war. And they sing, accompanied by a violinists and a cellist. All four performers showcase their range by playing multiple roles. Golden is the standout here. He is mesmerizing to watch and is a terrific singer.

There are square tiles on the floor that reveal locations in London when they are turned over. The production notes that Play: the Game or Game: the Play is based on a board game designed by Burkhardt and Golden.

The show’s technical qualities are first-rate. Alex Eizenberg’s sound design is effective, creating the illusion of bombs dropping all around the characters. We can feel the terror of living in a big city during a time of war. There are also some whimsical moments, when balloons drop from the ceiling and the players blow bubbles. They also try to pin a mustache on a picture of Adolph Hitler. Yep, you read that right. It’s that kind of show.

Play: The Game or Game: The Play is alternately haunting, funny, and eccentric.

Play: The Game or Game: The Play. Through May 21. Leeds Theatre, Brown University. For tickets, call 401-863-2838.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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