Friday, 19 July 2019

REVIEW: Games for Lovers at The Vaults

You’ve got a match! Wait, did they just swipe left?!

It is estimated that there are some 850 million swipes taking place around the world each day. Now, I’m no mathematician, nor am I a millionaire matchmaker to the stars, but I think it’s safe to say that the population worldwide have one thing in common; finding love

And love is certainly in the air down at The Vaults in Waterloo in the world premiere production of ‘Games for Lovers’; a new comedy play written by Ryan Craig, and directed by Anthony Banks.

We are introduced to smitten kittens Logan (Calum Callaghan) and Jenny (Tessie Orange-Turner), alongside hopeless singletons Martha (Evanna Lynch) and Darren (Billy Postlethwaite); each longing to find the one via their own uniquely designed algorithm. Martha, one of the worst flirters in history is desperate to pluck up the courage to ask out ‘Doctor Boner’ at her work. Enlisting the help of life long best friend Logan, and self-proclaimed master of all things swag and chat related Darren, Martha weighs up her options and attempts to partake in flirting school 101. But when jealous girlfriend Jenny gets envious of how much time Logan is spending with Martha, there is bound to be trouble in paradise, with a diagnosis of a broken heart. 

Assisted by a vibrant, geometric, and wildly colourful and creative set design, the cast burst onto stage setting an explosive level of energy for the show; well, that is, until there was a technical difficulty. Never the less, ten minutes, two technicians and one take later and we had delved back into the wonderful world of the birds and bees. At this point it must be added that this production doesn’t follow the norm, and often breaks the fourth wall in order for the comedy to radiate within the audience; often via the use of confessionals, or almost diary entries delivered by each character. 

Throughout the production we peel off another layer to each characters personality and love story, almost as if we, the audience were on a first date, or at a speed dating night with each character. And this dynamic certainly allowed for some curve balls to be thrown into the plot line, with the final destination of this tale way off the beaten track from where I imagined it to be. 

Individually, all four actors gave solid performances, each successfully delivering playful antics throughout. However, credit must be given to Billy Postlethwaite who carried the production with his undeniable exuberance and superb comedic timing and delivery. Instantaneously Postlethwaite unapologetically introduced Darren to the audience, and at once we felt at ease. Each time he entered the stage I was eager to find out what ridiculous flirting technique or anecdote he would entail next as it was guaranteed to create a laugh. In spite of this, at times other elements of comedy delivered throughout the show felt somewhat over played and relied too much on the emphasis of the punchline as opposed to letting it flow organically. Perhaps this was due to press night jitters, however, at times I would have loved to have seen more play partaking between the cast members as the script certainly allows for it, in particular from Evanna Lynch, whom unlike her Petronas Spells in the land of all things Potter,seemed to struggle to land her punchlines.

As an equation, this piece certainly delivers. It has all the elements that a good
comedy should contain, and provides plenty of laughs along the way. Do I think it could rival the current work of Mischief Theatre? Not yet, however, I think it certainly contains great promise to as the production develops and is revived by alternative casts. If you want an entertaining evening of simple and light hearted comedy, then log off Tinder and swipe right for a ticket to see Games for Lovers! 

Top tip? – I would advise booking a regular seat as opposed to a ‘Love Seat’ for extra money. While they are comfy, they aren’t included within the production like you would imagine them to be. Go for the laughs, and enjoy a sofa in the comfort of your own home later! 

Review by Adam Tipping 

Rating: ★★★

Seat: A7 (Free seating) | Price of Ticket: Starting from £20
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