Arthur’s World is an exciting new play by Helena Thompson. It questions race, class, age and society’s obsession with gaming. Shakespeare wrote: “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players” (As You Like it). Today we are ‘players’ of a different kind. Life can be seen as a game, with winners and losers.
Most people go through their lives hoping to belong somewhere. Race is still a strong label and most people cannot help but judge when parent and child look so different. That is the world we live in. The stereotypes concerning colour and class were shattered by the father and son characters in this play, Arthur and Mikey.
I enjoyed the intimate setting of the attic space of the Bush Theatre in west London. A table in the middle provided a centre for the action and the mirror on the wall provided us with a different perspective of the play. The audience were all seated on items of furniture around the room. At one point Paul Greenwood, who plays Arthur, was standing right next to me and I was impressed by his concentration!
With only three ‘players’, each character was exposed, the acting was constantly genuine. The sound effects of a radio and an angry mob, created a haunting atmosphere. I found myself waiting for the mob to burst in!
To me, the play sent a message about society’s engrossment in gaming and exposed the brutality that ensues when the level of violence of gaming comes to life. It also showed how isolation can make us short-sighted, one man’s world and perceptions of his son, were so irrevocably changed by one game.
Keno (Joseph Tremain) contrasted brilliantly with Mikey (Enyi Okoronkwo), his clothing and speech the opposite of Mikey’s well-dressed schoolboy façade. Keno’s journey through arrogance guilt and pain was fascinating.
A combination of honest acting, impeccable comedic timing and the shocking lighting made for an effective and thought provoking piece of theatre. After watching a play, I often think: “that was okay.” After Arthur’s World, I was questioning the world around me from a different perspective; a refreshing change.
Rating: Four stars
Arthur’s World runs at the Bush Theatre, 7 Uxbridge Road, London W12 8LJ until Saturday 14th February 2015. Box office: 0208 743 5050