EFR - Reviews of Games of Love and Chance

Games of Love and Chance

Mon 18th – Sat 23rd August 2014

reviews

Jessica McKay

at 19:54 on 20th Aug 2014

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Games of Love and Chance is a new play by David K. Barnes that feels like a well-known and well-loved piece of classic theatre. Zut Alors Theatre and TwoSquared productions transport the audience back to 1929 with this heartwarming and humorous tale of forbidden love and class difference.

Games of Love and Chance tells the story of Sir Oscar Botcherby (Hamish Coleville), a wealthy gent determined to marry his daughter Sylvia (Esmé Patey-Ford) to his prospective business partner’s son Roderick Brooke-Sharpe (Ryan J. Brown).

In order to see whether Roderick is really her type Sylvia swaps places with her maid Edith (Amy Millns) to observe him incognito; coincidentally, Roderick also does the same with his valet Charlie (Ed Sheridan). Queue bucket-loads of dramatic irony as each character tries to convince everyone else they’re someone they’re not - and find their true love in the process. This sort of ‘mistaken identity’ plot is nothing knew: Shakespeare for one exploited it to full effect in several of his plays. Although not entirely groundbreaking and original Games of Love and Chance was still engaging, with the actors’ comic wit keeping an age-old plot fresh and exciting.

The four young lovers were all proficient and confident in their roles; however, none were particularly outstanding. Indeed, it was the supporting actors who stole the show. In his role as Sir Botcherby, Coleville was reminiscent of a young John Cleese: delivering his lines with perfect comic timing and flair. Felix Trench, who played Slyvia’s boring, overlooked brother Martin, also deserves special commendation. Trench was wryly humorous and had the audience in fits of laughter at his deadpan delivery and subtle gestures.

While not exactly family-friendly as it contains some swearing, Games of Love and Chance does have a universal appeal. Teenagers and older people alike kept up with the occasionally tricky plot, and were giggling consistently throughout.

Another lovely touch in Games of Love and Chance was the music, which was composed by Gabriel Chernick and performed by a live band decked in 1920’s garb (Gabriel Chernick, Jack Oades, Dan Glover). Sometimes live music can distract when you’re watching a play, but here it perfectly complemented the events on stage: giving added punch to comic moments and setting the scene for romantic embraces.

Games of Love and Chance is a polished, complete piece of comedy-drama worth paying to see. If you’re slightly fed up of hit-and-miss free theatre I’d give this show a watch: it’s practically guaranteed to entertain.

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Matthew Lavender

at 21:51 on 20th Aug 2014

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It was at times eccentric, and at times it straddles the boundary between comedy and silliness, but it is undeniable that Games of Love and Chance is wonderfully entertaining, and will leave you feeling cheerfully amused.

The show follows the stories of Sylvia Botcherby (Esmé Patey-Ford) and Roderick Brooke-Sharpe, (Ryan J. Brown) who have been betrothed against their wishes by their fathers, and the chaos that ensues when they both swap places with their respective servants in order to anonymously observe their future spouse. The show is a refreshingly light-hearted piece of comedy, drawing its humour both from the eccentric personalities of the characters, as well as the mixed-up situations they find themselves in.

An inspired addition to the show is the catchy music played by a trio situated at the side of the stage, who contribute a great deal, with interjections at appropriate moments. If any criticism can be made of this aspect of the production, it is that the music is, at times, too loud, obstructing the effective delivery of the actor’s lines, but, on the whole, it is an innovative move which enhances the show, particularly at moments of comedy, when small noises or notes are used to emphasise the character’s mood.

The concept behind the plot is simple, but leads to a very entertaining story, due to the fact that most of the characters spend the majority of the show impersonating another character vastly different in nature from their own. This only works, in practise, if the acting is good enough to pull it off, and fortunately the acting in this show is excellent, with no real weak link among an impressive cast.

The stand-out performer is Hamish Colville, who puts in a stellar performer as Sylvia’s father Sir Oscar Botcherby. Sir Oscar is uncannily reminiscent of Basil Fawlty – in personality as well as looks – in having a rather hideous nature, in terms of his values and convictions, but yet remaining strangely loveable. He is witty and sharp, and is superbly portrayed by Colville, who never fails to convincingly depict his character as charming and yet, at the same time, incredibly insensitive.

At times, the show comes dangerously close to being a little too silly, but fortunately Games of Love and Chance manages to stay, for the most part, on the correct side of the line. It is a very light-hearted, and genuinely funny, show, which will not disappoint an audience looking for a pleasant, stress-free hour (and ten minutes) of fun.

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