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Director: Alex Baldry
Producer: Laurel Hill
Writer: Alan Ayckbourn
Venue: Drama Barn
Set in the simple and intimate surrounding of a Docklands flat, GamePlan offers a farcical insight into the deeper issues that come hand in hand with a broken family in an era of austerity. Lynette (played by Flora Ogilvy) and Sorrell (Sophie Mann) portray a mother and daughter struggling to survive the repercussions of abandonment by the father of the family, both subconsciously vying to fill his still- warm shoes in order to provide for each other's welfare. In her desperately sad attempt to mother her mother, Sorrell hatches a plan with best friend Kelly (Maria Terry) that strikes an optimistic chord with the idealist imagination and benign innocence expected of two young girls, yet slowly unravels to expose the stark realist implications of the adult world that the roots of this plan were entwined with all along.
Set in the style of a sitcom, humour skates merrily over everything else in the play, with especially exaggerated scene changes set to inconspicuous nineties music that fought to keep the potentially dark nature of the scenes at bay. The acting could not be faulted, with particularly poignant performances from Maria Terry, whose portrayal of the introverted and bashful Kelly had the audience eating her humour from the palm of her hand, and Flora Ogilvy, who maintained the strong and desperate presence of a mother yearning to provide for her daughter yet materially incapable of doing so.
The set maintained a solid continuation of this sitcom, with all the furnishings of a simple flat's living room and kitchen, as well as tangible additional food smells and steaming mugs. The usual intimacy of the barn served perfectly as the arena in which the game plan was born and died, swallowing the audience into its sinkhole drama and spitting them out when it was all over. This tightly knit atmosphere was further reinforced by a notably recognizable number of The Vagina Monologues cast showing their front row support for the stage they had recently graced with their feminine footsteps just last week.
If you are seeking easy entertainment, GamePlan is it. It lacks the intricately complex nature and deeply buried metaphors that many other plays carry, yet it never ceases to amuse and had the audience hooked onto its rod of curiosity-provoking humour from the first scene. Left on a cliff-hanger the audience faces the two paths previously considered by Sorrell: do we follow the one that harks to the idealist within us and thus satisfies our subconscious longing for a happy ending, or do we dare tread down the realist route and accept what fate has in store?