Personal theatre has come to London this summer in a big way. You can have a One-on-One experience at the BAC, ride the Bum Bum Train in Bethnal Green or come to the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith where, every night, Improbable Theatre's production of Lifegame asks: "does everyone have a comedy show inside of them?"
Starting life back in 1998, the show has been performed all over the UK, including previously at the Lyric Theatre and at the National Theatre, as well as in the US and Australia. The general concept each night is that a mystery guest is interviewed by a member of the cast with the remaining cast enacting elements of that person's life as they come up to comic effect. Think of it as This Is Your Life meets Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Previous guests have included Joanna Lumley and Barry Cryer as well as war veterans and other notables. Tonight's guest was Sean Holmes, artistic director of, er, the Lyric Theatre. Initial feelings of being swizzled dissipate when Sean opens up to discuss his early life. At one point, he is asked to play the role of his father talking to an actor playing a young version of himself. Sean, a tall, bald and imposing man, is forced to open up parts of his life he has probably not thought about for decades, while the actor uses innocent questions to prompt him into delving deeper into his relationship with a father who had very different values.
More questions and more answers deliver further scenes. No-one, not in the highly experienced cast, not in the audience, least of all Sean, knows where the questions will take us. The show, part therapy, part theatre, has a natural arc, with Sean being asked about his early years and finishing with how he met his wife but in between we hear about a past girlfriend, a life inspiration and the days after his second son was hospitalised soon after birth. All of these are expertly turned into improvised scenes or songs
You want it raw, edgy and unpredictable? In comparison to to this summer's cinema offerings, this show runs rings 'round remakes and demonstrates that theatre, as a live experience, can compete with any other form of entertainment in London.
Tickets can be bought here.