Theatre Review: Biography: A Game

Theatre Review: Biography: A Game

In his comedy/drama, ‘Biography: A Game’ Max Frisch questions our ability to change against our own habits, our desire for immediate gratification, and our fear of the unknown.

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Presented by Bakehouse Theatre
Reviewed 4 August 2016

It’s a question most people ask themselves at some point: If I could live my life again with the knowledge I have now, what would I do differently?

Photo credit: Michael Errey
Photo credit: Michael Errey

Swiss playwright Max Frisch questions our ability to change against our own habits, our desire for immediate gratification, and our fear of the unknown. His comedy/drama plays out as a game, where protagonist Hannes Kürmann (Tim Lucas) is provided free will to relive any given point of his life. He cannot change anything except his own actions, but his choices will have a real affect on his life. The game is guided by The Director (Adam Carter), who manipulates the players as though they are actors in a rehearsal, pushing to get them to understand their motivations, accept their desires, and live with the consequences.

The Director and Kürmann easily hold the stage, with Krystal Brock on par as Kürmann’s wife. The other two players change roles according to the scene, showing extraordinary versatility in the variety of personalites they adopt. Lisa Harper Campbell is unimposing as The Director’s Assistant, but effervescent as the nurse, comical as the aged landlady and loud as the drunken friend. Patrick Clements begins as a non-descript male assistant only to suddenly upstage everyone in a stellar array of well-defined characters, each so very different from the last. What a masterful performance!

Photo credit: Michael Errey
Photo credit: Michael Errey

Biography: A Game takes several minutes to connect with. Its unusual staging is launched immediately with no explanation and it’s only after the first scene or two that one begins to get the gist of what’s going on. From there the story unfolds on a more predictable path with Kürmann riding a wave of wins and loses until the final twist.

Confusing only at first, director Joh Hartog turns the challenging script into an enjoyable comedy/drama with a very satisfying payoff.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

Venue: Bakehouse Theatre, 255Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: 4 – 20 August 2016
Duration: 2 hours plus interval
Tickets: $18-$30
Bookings: www.bakehousetheatre.com

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