FRINGE REVIEW – The Games

*****

The Games from Spike Theatre is an enjoyable and good-natured comedy pentathlon: farce, slapstick, music, puppetry and puns (dreadful puns) all combine into a classical romp which ends up winning over the audience with its charm and wit, moving at such a cracking pace it never rests on its laurels.

Darrius, Stanzas and Hermaphrodite have each had a dream telling them to compete in the Games. As they meet on the way to Athens, they discover that the Gods have gifted each of them with a special quality which will see them win: Darrius’ ability to talk to the animals should help him thunder home in the chariot race; Stanzas’ invulnerability to pain will come in handy during the boxing tournament; and Hermaphrodite – well, let’s just say she’s been endowed with something which will help her compete in this exclusively male contest…

The tone of The Games is knowingly and gloriously puerile: much is made of the contestants’ dangling false genitals, although without slipping into smuttiness or needless crudity. Instead, the tone of the piece is closer to a Carry On movie, and it is possessed with so much charm and enthusiastic energy that it proves impossible not to like.

With simple yet effective staging making use of screens behind which the actors often pose and perform in silhouette, the sound design, inventive use of props and multi-role performances from the cast all combine to make The Games a technically complex production for a Fringe show, and one which Spike Theatre pull of with aplomb.

The cast pitch their performances just right for the tone of the piece: mugging their way through the script and making knowing winks to the audience throughout. And the script itself also impresses: demonstrating not only a sound grasp of comic style and timing, but also a knowledge of – and obvious love for – the classics.

Charming, clever and well-produced, enter into The Games and you’ll enjoy a fast-paced and inventive Fringe comedy which deserves its place on the winners’ podium.

The Games runs from 9-29 Aug (not 16 or 23) at 12:30 at Zoo Roxy. More details here.

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