'Game Theory' review or 'Medical Review'

Game Theory, Odessa Celt
Tristan Bates Theatre, 1st April 2015 
Written for Time Out 

Halima wants her virginity back, and she wants her ex-boyfriend to do the honours. Emma wants her son to decide his future for himself, without the burden of medical forewarning. ‘Game Theory’ is a double bill about two controversial medical procedures: a hymenoplasty (where the hymen is reconstructed) and genome sequencing. They’re elevated by some timely and nuanced debate, even if the drama is a little flat. 

‘Membrane’ opens in a doctor’s surgery, which designer Fi Russell has washed in a clinical green glow. Halima (Nadia Shash), a Muslim, needs a favour from Paul, a doctor: she needs her hymen re-constructed before her wedding night. Paul (Andrew Pugsley), who lost his virginity to Halima and still loves her, isn’t too enthusiastic. Much heated (and occasionally horny) discussion ensues.

Odessa Celt is a thoughtful writer but some of the scenes in Lois Jeary’s production feel convenient rather than convincing. The central relationship is pushed to bizarre and frankly unbelievable extremes. But the piece raises some tough questions about the relative autonomy – or continued repression – that this procedure might bring about. Shash’s Halima is a tantalising enigma and the closing moments ripple with ambiguity. 

‘Mutiny’ is similarly uneven, stimulating if a tad silly. The play unfolds on the day after Charlie and Emma have given birth to their longed-for son. Most new parents are too knackered to even whimper hello, but these parents launch into a fraught discussion about the relative merits of genome sequencing. While I didn’t buy it, ‘Mutiny’ still got me thinking about this procedure – the equivalent of a medical horoscope – and whether it might free or fetter future generations. 


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