Game of Life - Your Future Edition
GAME OF LIFE: Your Future Edition-Arts Insight, The Loft Theatre, Leamington Spa from Wednesday 2 to Sunday 6 August 2023. Written and Directed by Laura Berridge with an Original Score by Francis Goodhand. An Arts Insight Youth Production.
Review by Les Grafton
You will have to be quick to catch this short run musical at the Loft but it is well worth the effort. Two different casts deliver three evenings each, involving 56 young performers in total. National charity, Arts Insight offer weekly workshops at the Loft and local schools. Founder Laura Berridge has written and directed this lively showcase for young performers.
Game of Life satirises our national obsession with game shows and reality TV. The action takes place on the set of a TV game show and designer Alexa Woodward delivers a projection screen, two green rooms, a performance stage and the ubiquitous rotating judges’ chairs in a neatly created package.
‘Floor Manager’, confidently played by Daisy Faith Evans, does all the heavy lifting for the first 20 minutes explaining the set up and introducing the cast. This large ensemble, given their age, move around with carefully stage-managed ease. A chain is only as good as its weakest link and there was no one who did not know their spot or stay in character through the songs with individually choreographed gestures.
A Greek chorus performed by the ‘Intensity Choir’ rush on stage at every mention of the game shows title and punctuate the proceedings to drive the narrative. There are a number of running jokes throughout the script, which work well with judge ‘Gordon Rambo’ cheekily played by Felix Hughes bursting into bleeped expletives at every turn. There are numerous puns on virtually every reality game show, celebrity host and pastiches of hype and social media manipulation throughout. ‘Simona Scowl’ played by Isabelle Jackson nails the vanity of her better known counterpart with great aplomb.
Energy levels never flag through cleverly staged rewind and fast forward scenes of the finalists, played by Daisy Williams and Annabel Vaughan, as they progress through the heats. There are some cleverly aimed barbs at the fakery of social media and our reliance on phones through a Bake Off spoof. Daisy Faith Evans closes the first half with an emotional song ‘Floored’ which could have been from ‘Annie’ or ‘Matilda’ and Francis Goodhand deserves credit for the perky original score throughout the whole piece.
There is a plot twist at the end as the identity of the masked judge is revealed and the previously silent but very self-assured Miles Mew plays fairy godfather to the much oppressed ‘Floor Manager’. This musical carries a heart-warming educational message about self-reliance, team building skills and the evils of over-reliance of fakery and on-line content, wrapped in a lively and funny script with some clever stage-craft and an enthusiastic cast.
Arts Insight are to be congratulated and if the second cast manage their roles as well as this first group, the charity are delivering their mission statement, outlined in the programme, in plenty.