Review Round-Ups

Did critics enjoy playing Mike Bartlett's Game?

The new play from the author of ”Bull” and ”King Charles III” opened at the Almeida Theatre last night

In the game: Mike Noble and Jodie McNee as Ashley and Carly
In the game: Mike Noble and Jodie McNee as Ashley and Carly
© Keith Pattison

Mike Bartlett's new play Game sees the Almeida Theatre auditorium transformed into a space where the audience look in on the lives of a young couple immersed in a dangerous new way to live. Directed by Sacha Wares, with design by Miriam Buether, the cast includes Jodie McNee and Mike Noble. Here's what some of the critics had to say:

Michael Coveney, WhatsOnStage


"It's one of the oddest rewrites of the contract between performance and audience I've seen, not the most original, but an interesting challenge."

"The cast is selflessly helping Bartlett, Wares and Buether maintain this venue's reputation for excitement and theatricality under Rupert Goold"

Michael Billington, Guardian


"There is an element of voyeurism in all theatre. This is taken to its extreme in Mike Bartlett’s short, sharp, shocking hour-long play"

"Bartlett is expert at turning audiences into anxious eavesdroppers. But I have several reservations about this piece."

"the play offers more in the way of visceral thrills than genuine moral inquiry. There is no doubt we are disturbed, but to what purpose?"

Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph


"a short, sharp, satirically pulse-quickening evening."

"The concept is sick, simple, brilliant. The execution is all-important, and it’s handled here with exemplary finesse by the director and design team of Sacha Wares and Miriam Buether."

"I found it distressing yet guilt-makingly compelling."

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard


"Bartlett presents a disturbing vision of a society where everything is for sale and all ethical boundaries can be crossed in the name of entertainment."

"Although Bartlett offers a sharp take on voyeurism and other modern addictions, this hour-long piece does not sustain the dramatic thrill of its first 15 minutes."

Ian Shuttleworth, Financial Times


"Game is a knockout."

"A too-remorseful cop-out ending does almost nothing to lessen the shocking impact of these ideas. And yet I couldn’t look away."

Aleks Sierz, The Arts Desk


"What distinguishes this hour-long play from a journalistic moan about the lack of housing in Britain today is Bartlett’s skill at making his audience feel implicated in this horrible game."

"it is director Sacha Wares and designer Miriam Buether who turn a slim futuristic nightmare into a nerve-tearing experience."

"the company create a fearsome vision of the future that is also an acute comment on the present. Their aim is good, and they hit the right targets."

Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out


"Game is about as high-concept as mainstream theatre gets"

"If we were watching it on a stage, it would seem stupendously heavy-handed and thinly sketched. But Ware and Bartlett totally immerse us in vivid flashes of this world"

Natasha Tripney, The Stage


"it lacks the metal-jacketed clarity, the ballistic precision, of Bartlett’s best work."

"For something so short, it loses momentum rather rapidly. Maybe that’s half the point: the banality, the ease with which these things become normal."

Game runs at the Almeida Theatre until 4 April 2015