The Game – Project Arts Centre – Review
13 April 2017-14 April 2017 @ 7.30pm
The Game by THEATREClub is a performance that aims to shock. It is a production that started life with a decision to investigate the oldest profession known to man, that of prostitution. There is no writing credit for this production, but rather it was ‘devised by Gemma Collins, Grace Dyas and Lauren Larkin with Rachel Moran, Mia deFaoite and other women who have exited prostitution and women currently involved in sex work.’ Some members of THEATREClub approached Rachel Moran, who wrote the book ‘Paid For’. Rachel shared her own experiences with the team and also put them in touch with a number of others involved in the industry. This production is the result of those interactions.
The notes on this production are deliberately vague. On their website, we are told it explores the act of buying sex and requires five men as volunteers each night. In a sense, performances such as this thrive on the anxiety they generate before you enter, so I’m not going to explain too much. One thing that occurs every night is that the volunteers are asked to give the reason they agreed to be involved. On the night I saw the production, one of the men said that he enjoyed putting himself in uncomfortable situations. Suffice to say he achieved his goal!
The performance relies on the real life accounts of sex workers. You can easily detach yourself from the events taking place on stage and say it is just a performance, but as we are repeatedly told over the course of the night, it did happen. Some of the place names are retained and one mention of Citywest towards the end of the evening felt uncomfortably close to home!
The performance discusses the various models used worldwide in relation to the legal status of prostitution, with repeated mentions of the Nordic Model which turns the person buying sex into the criminal and not the sex worker. We frequently see prostitutes on TV and film, but they are mostly American. It is not something we are used to seeing in an Irish context. Some of the stories told are actually surprisingly sweet. Men that lack intimacy in their day-to-day lives and find it with a sex worker. There are also some very troubling accounts of violence that will last with the viewer. It is quite an awkward and distressing experience, but ultimately a very rewarding one.