'A House Repeated' review or 'Does this door swing both ways?'
'A House Repeated', Seth Kriebel and Zoe Bouras
12th October 2015, Battersea Arts Centre
I'm not a big video game fan and I'm so bad at reading maps that it has become a family joke. Someone says 'North' or 'South' and I start to freak out. So 'A House Repeated' should have been my nightmare show. It's a bit like a 'real-life' video game that you create and navigate in your own head, alongside other audience members. It sounds like an ordeal designed specifically to torment me but turns out to be an uplifting and nostalgic joy.
The audience is split into two and each 'side' is guided around a sprawling house via verbal descriptions from two actors, Seth Kribel and Zoe Bouras. We remain seated at all times. Everytime an actor stumbles upon something juicy in the narrative (and Christ do these actors have some brain on 'em) they stop and turn to a member of the audience and ask what he or she would like to do. At first, I watch with a growing sense of proper, clawing panic - but it doesn't take long to be swept away by this one. This is a gorgeous collective adventure, which'll allow your inner kid - who doesn't give a shite about rules, compasses, the laws of physics - to roam free.
The beauty of 'A House Repeated' is that we aren't told the rules; instead, we pretty much make them up as we go along. Each time a new area is discovered, one person - eyes glinting - is asked: 'You are now in an echoing corridor (or something similarly enticing). You can go North or South. What would you like to do?'
At first, we faithtfully follow the hints but it only takes one rebel to bring the whole system crashing down and for the real play-time to begin. Soon we're demanding to push down walls, walk through fire and dance like demons. What once felt like a tidy and delineated space has become a world full of surprises, trap doors, secrets and magic. Just look at how a building can be transformed by the people inside it; it sounds prescient, doesn't it, considering the recent fire and destruction of great beautiful chunks of the BAC?
It doesn't take long for strong teams to form and leaders to emerge. It is amazing how infectious the urge to explore and create becomes. After all, it's a Friday night in London. We are all a little bit tired and a little bit jaded but there is something about this space - both fictional and real - that makes adventorous explorers of us all.