Jacob Banigan is a Canadian who works with Theater Im Bahnhof and English Lovers in Austria, but on the Park Theatre stage Banigan performed his one man show Game of Death.
The performance requires some preparation: the members of the audience pick three Tarot cards. The audience shouts out what they associate with the first two cards with to provide the themes for the first and second acts respectively. In our case, the fox and the scythe made for dark associations. The third card stays hidden until an egg timer, set by a member of the audience, goes off. Another spectator is given a bell they can ring at any point to signal the entry of death into the piece.
For this performance the cheery place of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia was chosen as a setting and with another audience member deciding the music to start in D-minor, the stage was set for a dark performance indeed.
The setting produced an Arab/American theme and which could have been hard not to politicize, but Banigan cleverly made the Americans the butt of the joke.
The sillier the story got the better. There was a sandstorm fling in a car, a porn delivery, a communist revolution and the end with Putin in a helicopter was absolutely marvelous.
For the last and separate part of the performance, a new card, the Lucky Clover, was pulled. To create a scene Banigan asked for a lucky moment in an audience member’s life and an unlucky one.
Banigan then improvised one part of the conversation on camera and then acted with himself as the video was played. We witnessed a proud Irish mother in conversation with her teenage daughter and, revealing his skill and character, Jacob Banigan managed to create a happy ending to this darkly comic piece.