Prison Game

Prison Game is my first event at HOME’s PUSH 2016, the successor to Re:Play.  This one man show looks at what happens to a boy, Mike, as he grows up to be a man within the prison system.

Performed by Marcus Hercules, the physical performance is powerful.   He starts by creating a carnival feel, just right to set up the contradictions that develop later.  There is great contrast between moments of light and dark, and he commands both the stage and audience, making amazing use of the space.  Timing is near perfect and physical theatre techniques used inventively.

But too often it feels as if we are being thrown from one extreme to the other.  Happy ‘Mike’ wants to have a good time, genuinely loves his girlfriend, wants to see his father and become a dancer.  Aggressive ‘Mike’ commands the young offender institution and faces drug addiction.  The transitions are too quick; there are layers within this play where the interest lies but we never quite get to see them.  ‘Mike’ is clearly intelligent and it is his internal turmoil that I most wanted to understand.

However it is with the dialogue that this production really comes unstuck.  Whilst physically the various characters are convincingly crafted, the dialogue is not strong enough to develop ‘Mike’ to the point where we really care.  It’s too everyday, too situational, but as an audience we need to see what’s inside his head.  We need to see what he has lost, and what matters to him.

An important piece of theatre that has immense potential, an incredibly talented performer perfectly capable of the subtlety required, but the script isn’t good enough.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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