Lifegame, Lyric Hammersmith
IN A NUTSHELL
Despite the obvious talent of the cast, this show rests on the quality of the volunteer, which is bound to be variable, writes Emma Berge.
I laughed. I was bored. I was moved. I was disinterested. I enjoyed myself. I drifted off.
Lifegame is a very different style of show, which cannot be boxed into a category of good or bad.
There are one-star moments and there are five-star moments and each show is different.
The concept, presented here by theatre company Improbable, is simple - a volunteer, unknown to the company, is found, either before or during the show and he or she spends the next two hours on stage with an interviewer and five actors who improvise moments from the subject's life.
The obvious problem - or advantage - is that the show hangs on how interesting the volunteer is.
The actors spring in where they can with wit and gusto, but their moments of brilliance can be dragged down by a ramble or indecisiveness from the volunteer.
Phelim McDermott took the reigns as the interviewer and I couldn't help but feel that if he had had a heavier hand the show would have been a lot more consistent.
After a rather weak introduction, McDermott proceeded to let his interviewee, an actor called Kerry Shale, dominate the show too much.
Shale was often an interesting speaker, but far more interesting was what the Improbable actors devised.
Lee Simpson took role of Shale and the rest of the company assumed the roles of his family, teachers and friends to improvise dinner table scenes, key moments in his life and his first kiss, the last of which was cleverly done in the style of Gilbert and Sullivan.
The five improvisers had a great rapport with each other and treated each scenario with intelligence and humour.
I felt completely comfortable watching them and believed they could deal with whatever and whoever was thrown at them.
With a bit more assertion from McDermott, this show could be a hit every time.
Lifegame runs until July 17. Go to lyric.co.uk.