Being invited to the Brian Friel Theatre is always a pleasure, and this instance was no exception.
Board Games was lively from the very beginning: the four members of the cast each emerged into the corporate setting before dancing outrageously as they think they are alone. This immediately shows us that this play is not going to be a stiff one, and shows the characters playful sides before they enter the office environment.
The metafictional theme of the play begins to emerge in the use of audience prompters to laugh, as well as AlLan referring to the group as characters. These fourth wall breaks would continue throughout the play to greater effect.
The camp humour and over-dramatisation of simple day to day activities provides a lush viewing experience for the audience, as we are entertained by Allan’s fits of insanity, Carol’s attempts at authority and Stevie just trying to make sense of it all. The chemistry of the actors is unquestionable, with Allan’s eccentric and humorous actions bouncing off Stevie’s more conservative and businesslike manner that eventually falls away as the play progresses. This dynamic shows how the artist struggles to be creative in this stifling corporate environment where it is not organic, and their creativity begins to flourish as these conventions are broken down. They each come up with stagnated, trope-driven narratives they think their audience would like to see without asking themselves what they would like to create.
The metafictional elements of the play begins to grow with the actors contemplating the idea of writing a play. This play within a play idea is reminiscently Shakespearean, reminding me of A Midsummer Night’s Dream where Quince and the labourers struggle to conduct Pyramus and Thisbe due to the looming shadow of a deadline. The humour rises to great heights as the characters bash it out in physical altercations, brought to a crescendo when Allan hits Stevie with a NERF bullet directly in the face with comic timing that made the audience howl with laughter. Ultimately, they decide that they are a team with obstacles to overcome together.
The monologue at the end highlights the importance of the audience in the play, suggesting that they have a role of their own. This postmodern breakdown of traditional narratives is furthered when we discover that these characters are actors, merely puppets on corporate strings and that all this zany madness has been its own play all along.
I really enjoyed the clever wit married with chaos in this play, and once again the Players have produced a piece that they should be very proud of.
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