Games and After Liverpool by James Saunders

Thought-provoking theatre and assured acting are on offer at this show, which is split into two plays, both written by the late playwright James Saunders, a one-time mentor to Tom Stoppard.

There was a young boy sitting in the front row, who whispered passionately to his mum during the interval, “This is so exciting,” encapsulating perfectly the potential that this performance has to inspire.

The plays evoke ideas about linguistics, philosophy and psychology, and the Blind Elephant theatre group has a distinctive way of delivering meaning-heavy lines with a lightness and whimsy, which makes the performance fun rather than overtly intellectual. All the actors show great promise and have a natural charisma on stage, and both plays offer the opportunity for them to demonstrate the range of roles that they can take on effortlessly. Perhaps the standout performance is given by John Pritchard, who gives the impression that he is having real fun with everything he gets to deliver, particularly for his unhinged monologue about the plight of an actor in the world at large.

After Liverpool is a series of intriguing set piece dialogues about the inter-relational dynamics of couples living together, and all four actors show off the quirks that develop in a close relationship well. The second play—Games— is the stronger performance of the two, making inventive and thought-provoking use of meta-level theatre. Loosely about the My Lai Massacre in the Vietnam War, the play, originally written in 1971, raises questions about the responsibilities we, as audience and actors respectively, have in countering injustice around the world, rather than sitting watching entertainment. Here, the four actors explore theatre as an art form in itself. They do justice to this interesting piece of writing by moving effortlessly between roles, including playing actors arguing amongst themselves about their parts and delivery. There was a young boy sitting in the front row, who whispered passionately to his mum during the interval, “This is so exciting,” encapsulating perfectly the potential that this performance has to inspire. 

Reviews by Jonathan Mayo

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The Blurb

'We never answer each other's questions. Have you noticed? We just add more questions. It's not communication, it's ping-pong.' Communication is hard. Obeying orders is easy. Two back-to-back plays that ask when are we actually communicating with each other and when are we just talking? By genre-defying James Saunders, 'Most Promising Playwright' (Evening Standard). Praise for blind elephant's previous show, Endgame: 'The acting from all four is faultless... blind elephant are surely destined for great things' ***** (Skinny).

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