Do-Theatre / Fabrik, Hopeless Games

Review in Issue 12-1 | Spring 2000

Whether this was a case of the emperor’s new clothes, or a cutting-edge slice of theatre, Hopeless Games left me feeling bemused, and, dare I say, hopeless. If nothing else, the main theme of the piece marked out life’s absurdities and pointlessness, and if this was the message, then Do-Theatre/Fabrik were certainly effective in getting that idea across.

The five-strong Russian/German ensemble danced, mimed, and literally threw themselves around to convey a series of dark and surreal snapshot images of the twentieth century. Clad in bowler hats, tutus, and macs, they moved through an ethereal world of timetables, nine-to-five routines, the highs and lows of living on the edge, and finally, the joy of getting out of the system. Sporadically, Hopeless Games sparkled with innovation. The headless businessman waddling across the stage holding a balloon for a briefcase was a particularly memorable moment, as was the use of a screen. For three minutes, a blank, flickering screen had us fooled, thinking we were going to see something. Nothing happened. A little later, the screen broadcast a two-minute film showing nothing but the underbelly of a very long train. Again, we all watched with interest despite the monotony of the image. It seemed to be begging us to question the futility of our routine lives, or perhaps we should just have been laughing at ourselves for bothering to concentrate.

Generally, though, too much Laurel and Hardy style slapstick ensued, and the performance never centred itself. Its overall quest to convey hopelessness never shifted a gear. There was no complexity of feeling, nor enough shades of darkness and light, or texture to rise above the hopelessness. However, I must add that the audience seemed to love it.

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Issue 12-1
p. 25