Friday 28 July 2017

Review: The Game - Stories leave trauma in their wake

'The Game', Project Arts Centre

Lauren Larkin and Gemma Collins in The Game at Project Arts Centre as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival
Lauren Larkin and Gemma Collins in The Game at Project Arts Centre as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival

Maggie Armstrong

They might have carefully timed it. As the Government moves to criminalise the buying of sex, yet Amnesty International calls for the decriminalisation of prostitution, THEATREclub's new play drags up what we really need to know.

'The Game' tells the true stories of women working in the sex industry through a drama that is arresting and disturbing, heartfelt and compassionate, all at once.

Each night, co-creators Grace Dyas, Gemma Collins and Lauren Larkin enlist five brave men to play sometimes monstrous male parts in a flyaway ream of astounding testimony.

The men are volunteers, so no night will be the same. Their presence, as vulnerable players in a 'game' they scarcely know the rules of, creates a thick air of suspense, fear and even excitement. Emotions sex workers experience with each client.

But we're in safe hands, with punchy duo Collins and Larkin tricked up in wigs, minis, thigh-high boots. The centrepiece, a bed. From a set straight out of a low-brow Italian chat show, our hosts present a spinning wheel of perspectives.

Many sex workers enjoy paid sex, we're reminded - there are scenes of fumbling intimacy. By and large, it is precarious: scenes of palpitating danger. It can be twisted and violent.

These are local stories. Dreadful incidents in Blanchardstown, City West, on our doorsteps, that go unreported. The pillowy, cream-covered bed is an emblem of safe sex, but nasty props lie underneath it, used to stunning effect.

With no audience aftercare, 'The Game' leaves a scattered trauma in its wake.

Irish Independent

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