The Game (Rerun)

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 April, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 April, 2001, 12:00am

ABOUT HALF-WAY through this show, the grotesque-looking old man on stage half addressed the full-house audience: 'Don't bring your children here, they'll be bored!'

A piece of advice that perhaps came too late for some, as already sitting among us were a handful of youngsters who probably felt as shocked as they were bored.

Theatre Ensemble's latest production The Game (Re-run) is no Oops! Belle The Witch Is Gone or Hugga Hugga Teddy Bear, the company's hugely popular children's shows.

Rather, this new adaptation of Eugene Ionesco's absurd play The Chairs is a dark, thought-provoking and, yes, absurd piece of theatre that even adults may find heavy-going.

But what a performance. Olivia Yan Wing-pui and Jim Chim Shui-man take on the demanding - both theatrically and physically - roles as two disillusioned characters trapped inside a grey world devoid of hope and love.

Life is so desperately pointless that the duo have to play the same game of pretence over and over again to keep themselves amused - until the exercise becomes unbearable.

Yet they don't seem to have much choice but to continue.

Very slowly and skilfully, the old man (Chim) and the old woman (Yan) draw us into their delusional world - which, disturbingly, reflects the reality we live in.

Like Ionesco's piece, and to a certain extent Albert Camus' existentialistic The Plague, both written after World War II, The Game is about 'spiritless people' losing their sense of value, direction and confidence in the world. It questions the way mankind has evolved.

It also echoes Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot in the sense of anticipation running through the performance. As in Godot, the orator with 'the message' in The Game never shows up.

Both Chim and Yan deservedly won an award for their performances when the show was first staged a year ago.

They tackle and sustain this 90-minute piece with both humour and stylised physical movements. A play strictly for adults.

Cultural Centre Studio Theatre, today and tomorrow, 8pm; Apr 16, 3pm. $100-$150 Urbtix.