Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne Festival and The Border Project
29 September 2011
The Tower Theatre, The Malthouse
Drugs or pink pyjamas? Nervous tick or dead wife? It's your choice in The Border Project's Half-Real, a whodunnit choose-your-own-adventure.
The Border Project are from Adelaide and if you haven't hear of them, pretend that you have because they're getting talked about, in the good way.
With the help of a rather cool Wii-like controller and a whizz-bang, just-like-a-real-computer-game-but-bigger-and-smoother video projection, the audience vote about what happens next and who we think did the deed.
Performers David Heinrich, Alirio Zavarce and Amber McMahon present us with three intriguing suspects and the most frustrating element is choosing whose story we don't hear.
The premise of handing control over to the audience is too tempting to miss, but it doesn't take long to realise that our choice is as limited as the choose-your-own-adventure books the idea is based on, rather than on a narrative as sophisticated as a contemporary computer game. (As I once happily play Pong on a black and white telly, today's games continue to leave my jaw on the ground.)
Interacting with a controller is fun (and how I wish I had one for other shows*), but it was clear that our choices weren't based on the evidence presented, and post-show chat wasn't about the results of our choices, but about the choices made for us and if indeed there was any real choice.
Half-Real looks like a game with it's drop-dead design and super (non-pixillated) cast, but it feels like being a child playing a board game with an adult who's letting you keep up, even if they don't let you win.
* Should this 50ish couple written by David Williamson a) discuss how horrible their view of the harbour is, b) moan about their adult children or c) jump into the harbour?
Photo by Steve Tilling
This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com.