Power Games

Power Games pays homage to the classic notion of the Fatal Flaw in its depiction of a banker’s fall from grace. However, Power Games doesn’t even come close to the illustrious history of tragic drama.

The premise is a vaguely interesting one, and a narrative that we have become very used to in recent years: licentious politicians, power-hungry moguls, crooked media sources to name a few. However, the fundamental feature of the classic tragedy is the magnetism of the protagonist. Iago, Faustus, Oedipus, Othello, Milton’s Satan, all of them draw in the audience through linguistic dexterity and creative cunning. Deepak of Power Games, on the other hand, is a cardboard cut-out, a generic mannequin dressed in city-garb who fails to connect to the audience on any level.

Structured as a game-show, the audience is supposed to feel like they are in control of Deepak’s fate. However, it was immediately clear that our ‘voting rounds’ between scenes had no influence on the plot at all. The game-show host’s narration was the only spoken word we received, and the smarmy, upbeat tone that accompanied it was yet another injury to the supposedly tragic storyline. The game-show graphics were also fantastically naff, which somewhat undermined the tortured faces of the dancers below.

However, the game-show format was not even the main problem with Power Games. Indeed, the plot itself was boring and ridiculous, and it wasted a golden opportunity to portray Deepak’s downfall as a symptom of the rotten state of high finance. Instead, in a flashback we are shown a young Deepak playing Tetris on the computer: games and technology, that’s why he’s our anti-hero! Additionally, scenes in Scott’s Bar that featured a depressed and bankrupt barman felt like a terrible episode of Hustle with clichés abounding. Though they all looked very miserable, none of them tugged at the heartstrings.

Perhaps the most problematic aspect of this production, however, was the choreography. Shane Shambhu, who directed, choreographed and starred in this production, led the cast in a listless, hackneyed and occasionally silly style of dance that involved a lot of pencil rolls and rapid hand movements. Furthermore, every so often characters seemed to inexplicably hurl themselves to the ground and writhe around like distressed salmons; I was confused to say the least.

It was clear, though, that despite the thoroughly flawed nature of the production, the dancers were incredibly talented. Rebecca Thomas cannot be blamed for the lifeless script she delivered, and was by far the most engaging person on stage. Iain Payne and Virginia Scudeletti also managed to shine through the lacklustre choreography, and they put their all into every minute of the performance.

Reviews by Emma Banks

Almeida Theatre

Game

★★★★
Battersea Arts Centre

The Rove

★★
National Theatre

A Taste of Honey

★★★

The Light Princess

★★★★

Blurred Lines

★★★★★

Performances

The Blurb

Modern morality tale about a wealthy banker's fall from grace, set in an interactive game show. This playful exploration of forces that shape our destiny blends character-driven physical theatre with  contemporary and South Asian dance.  www.alteredskin.net