This is a Door

Reviewed by Cameron Woodhead

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Pop Up Playground
Theatreworks, season ended

AROUND the turn of the millennium, computer games killed a thriving scene of face-to-face social gaming. We used to have conventions that hosted everything from live role-playing to elaborate strategy; much of that has now migrated online.

Fashion is cyclical, though, and the international games carnival This is a Door at Theatreworks this past weekend was an opportunity for nostalgia as well as an innovative look at new possibilities for interactive play. It wasn’t theatre. It wasn’t even art. But it was spirited, anarchic fun.

Many of the best games are simple to learn and hard to master. The first, ”You’re Making A Scene”, involved 15 people playing guests at a wedding.

The aim was to find a seating arrangement such that no one was sitting next to a family member they despised: achievable only through a combination of sharp memory, luck and a talent for outrage.

The funniest game, ”Senior Prom”, re-enacted the worst high-school ball ever. Braving bad hair, outlandish pranks and appalling dancing, a large cast worked their way towards secret adolescent objectives.

Those with a more strategic bent could try ”London Burning”, an elegant co-operative game about fighting the Great Fire of 1666 that proved harder than it looked.

Pop Up Playground had a huge range of games on offer; many remained unplayed. Let’s hope the carnival returns. This is a Door is a disarming and enjoyable experience with broad appeal.