BWW Review: GAMES FOR LOVERS, The Vaults
Gone are the days of love letters, lonely hearts columns and marrying the girl or boy next door. Life in 2019 is in general hectic, fast-paced and complicated, and that's before we even touch on the issue of dating. On this front, Millennials have been issued a new set of rules, it seems, but does anyone actually know what they are or how to follow them?
Games for Lovers makes its world premiere at The Vaults in Waterloo. Situated beneath the hustle and bustle of the station, this underground theatre serves as an ideal venue to explore the ever-intimate, confounding and occasionally embarrassing topic of love. Written by Ryan Craig, Games for Lovers centres on four individuals looking for sex, love and a well-located flat - and so begins a match of rivalry, seduction and one-upmanship.
The show opens with flashing lights, music and dancing around Simon Scullion's playful and colourful set, fittingly reminiscent of a game show. Matt Haskins' lighting design, along with Ben and Max Ringham's sound, adds to the sharp and snappy vibe of the play, which feels current and 'now'.
Whilst the energy of the actors is exuberant, it has to be said that on occasion the dialogue creates traction and despite the aforementioned aesthetics and sound, this is to the detriment of the play's pacing, especially in Act One. This is, however, made up for throughout Act Two, with the piece reaching a comical yet poignant climax.
Tessie Orange-Turner commands the stage in all of her scenes; her subtle mannerisms and gestures, facial expressions and movements conveying a great deal beyond her dialogue. Her scene with Calum Callaghan, in which she role-plays as a prostitute, is sheer comedy gold and there is great chemistry between the two actors throughout.
Callaghan is relatable, offering a strong and believable performance as Logan with much comedy created throughout his scenes with Billy Postlethwaite's Darren (or Wham!). Evanna Lynch is equally warm and inviting as Martha, with many of her moments generating much laughter, yet also eliciting empathy, from the audience.
Postlethwaite is provided with ample comedic ammunition courtesy of Craig's characterisation and dialogue, and the actor utterly embraces this. Displaying gregariousness whilst simultaneously conveying insecurity and vulnerability, Postlethwaite should be commended for his timing and multi-layered depiction.
It seems apparent that the cast have collaborated closely and invested themselves into this production, complementing one another well, and Anthony Banks embraces his material, offering a fun, frolicsome feast through his confident and assured direction.
You may not depart The Vaults with any newly realised profound ideas about love, but you are likely to leave with a smile on your face having enjoyed this light-hearted affair.