I Before You

“It’s the game show of all game shows!” our host tells us as we begin. All of us in the ‘studio audience’ are handed three voting cards, colour-coded for the three different contestants. We have entered just in time for the concluding challenges of the competition and we are about to find out the winner.

Subject to Change Theatre Company invites audiences to “question the world we live in as well their own role in society.”

I was a bit uncomfortable the moment I got handed my voting cards and saw the information on it, including hair colour and weight. Our three contestants are Chloe (big boobs, likes good times), Emily (petite – has the IQ of a duck), Shanice (bigger, a bit crazy). We are asked to vote for contestants, quite literally judging them as they perform a strenuous physical challenge, stuff cake in their faces (poor Emily almost throws up) and answers questions from a male audience member in a game of Kiss, Ditch or Hitch.

Between challenges, the contestants offer autobiographical information about themselves in a confessional style. We gradually get to know a bit more about them, which means our votes are bit more well informed – but still only a bit. We don’t know them, but we’re here to judge them.

Subject to Change Theatre Company invites audiences to “question the world we live in as well their own role in society.” Ultimately I’m not sure if it fully achieved its intentions. I feel like I understood what it was trying to do, but in these days of Women Against Feminism and so on, precision is important.

The game show host could amp up his presentation style with more of his hyperactive attitude and charm, so that his hints at misogyny would sting more; it would also clarify that the show is lambasting reality game shows and pop culture attitudes towards judging people on appearances or from shallow impressions.

Who are we really judging: the ‘contestants’ or the actors who sit before us? Can anyone really win in this type of game?

This is a brave thought-provoking piece of theatre with important things to say. The concept is compelling, even though the performance isn’t fully cooked yet.

Reviews by Emma Gibson

theSpace @ Venue45

Love and Information by Caryl Churchill

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The Blurb

Before the lights and before the camera, there is a real person. Set in the last stage of a game show audition process, I Before You explores how audiences decipher who they want to win.