The Vaults, London – until 25 August 2019
Making its world premiere at The Vaults underneath Waterloo station, Games For Lovers examines the fast-paced, complicated, often embarrassing and downright tough topic of love and how it fits into a modern world.
The play, written by Ryan Craig, follows four individuals looking for love, a connection or just someone to spend the night with. The incredibly talented actors are energetic and dynamic throughout, with many memorable moments, however, at times the dialogue does feel a little claggy. The interludes of playful, almost game-like scenes are entertaining but seem somewhat like games that would be played in the rehearsal room. That’s not to say they aren’t enjoyable to watch, but they have minimal effect on the storyline and therefore feel detrimental to the pacing of the play.
The small cast are really outstanding though. Calum Callaghan is believable and relatable as Logan as he struggles with his emotions and the pressures to have a relationship. Tessie Orange-Turner is completely in charge of the stage in the entirety of her scenes. A masterful actor, her subtle mannerisms, facial expressions and gestures convey a boat load of subtext behind each line of dialogue. She has fantastic chemistry with the other three; the role-play scene with Callaghan is particularly entertaining.
Evanna Lynch is beautifully warm as Martha, consistently bringing an aura of sincerity whilst also providing spades of humour. Billy Postlethwaite is utterly fantastic as the charismatic, often non-pc but always humorous Darren, who is imbued with both energy and vulnerability.
Simon Scullion’s vibrant and playful set with Ben and Max Ringham’s sound and Matt Haskins’ lighting, all add to the dynamic of the show and make it feel like a mix of game show and Netflix rom-com. Overall it feels very of the moment and perfectly fitting for millennials today.
Whilst there is definitely some room to make all four characters fully rounded and cohesive, this is a fantastic debut for Games for Lovers. The cast are clearly tight knit and thanks to Anthony Banks’ strong direction, everyone provides a comfortable, enjoyable and fun performance.
Games for Lovers isn’t going to leave you questioning your life choices but it will leave you beaming from an utterly hilarious and fantastically enjoyable two hours.
Games For Lovers plays at The Vaults until August 25th
photo credit: Geraint Lewis