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Review of Adam Hannigan’s Game Night | Drayton Arms Theatre

Game NightThere is nothing better when you have exciting news than getting your friends together to share it with and help you celebrate. At least that’s what the two boys in Adam Hannigan’s new play Game Night at the Drayton Arms Theatre believed at the start of their night.

It’s going to be a big night for Michael (Adam Hannigan). Not only is it the regular monthly get together with his friends, but he has exciting news for them all. He has got engaged to his partner Jacob (James Labdarbs). Okay, maybe the terminology isn’t right and the night should be focussed on both of them, but Michael is very excited about telling their friends the news. Unfortunately, things may not be as easy as Michael, and Jacob of course, hope. For a start, the first people to arrive, married couple Kate (Amelie Rose) and Tom (Jimmy Jameson) seem to be in the middle of a world-class row. Not only that, but they appear to have forgotten to bring Michael’s cousin Rory (Ryan McGonagle) who is distraught as he has recently lost someone very dear to him. As if that wasn’t enough to put the dampers on Michael’s night, there is also the arrival of his nemesis Claire (Tiffany Robinson) who has her own agenda to pursue and brings an additional guest in the shape of Shane (Blair Gibson) a man with an interesting past. With all these people competing for the limelight will Michael be able to ensure that when the light settles, it settles on him, and Jacob, of course.

I had a feeling I was going to enjoy Game Night as soon as the lights went down and Michael arrived on stage and started to check himself out in the mirror whilst practicing ways to tell his friends he was engaged. I began laughing then and pretty much didn’t stop until around seventy-five minutes later when the cast took their bows to a standing ovation that was as loud as it was deserved.

Adam Hannigan has written an excellent comedy/farce with a great bunch of characters who, though you may possibly not want to meet them all together in real life, completely light up the stage as their various stories come together. All of the characters are pretty recognisable – I could give you a real-life example for each of them without thinking too hard – but stay just on the right side of stereotypes to avoid being annoying. The couples – Michael & Jacob and Kate & Tom – really worked well together and the others slotted into the various relationships very well. This was down to both excellent writing and some extremely strong acting on behalf of the whole cast. My normal criticism of gay-themed plays is the lack of diversity among the cast – no oldies and everyone being super hot. Although this was true of Game Night for once it didn’t matter as this group of friends – all of whom were young and hot – felt very believable.

A post-show discussion with my companion Michael about everyone, and we both agreed our favourite character was Rory. Not only did Rory break the tension beautifully whenever things looked like getting a bit too heavy, but he also presided over one of the funniest games of Twister I’ve ever seen. Ryan McGonagle really seemed to be having great fun playing Rory and had a definite gleam in his eye every time his character said/did things that would not necessarily be accepted quite so readily in real life. In fact, part of the fun of the writing was the way all of the protagonists were able to get away with saying and apparently thinking things that might draw an offended gasp in other circumstances.

Adam Hannigan – yes it’s him again – directs the piece well and the cast move in a very natural fashion as the story runs through. Credit also to Amelie Rose for the highly appropriate costumes that summed up the wearer really well. For example, it was pretty obvious the type of person that Tiffany Robinson’s Claire was going to be just by looking at her. A fact that was reinforced when Tiffany opened her mouth and allowed Claire’s personality – and amazing lack of morals – to totally shine through.

Overall, Game Night was a highly entertaining production that had me and my fellow audience members almost crying with laughter. If I have a criticism, it is a minor one about pacing, as there were times when the laughing was so prolonged, it ran over the words coming from the stage. My advice, enjoy the laughter as long as possible before moving on. But forgetting that, both my companion and I had an excellent time and thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

4 stars

Review by Terry Eastham

It’s a snowy winter evening in this situational London comedy and Michael has invited his closest friends over for a thoroughly planned out games night to announce the news of his engagement to his fiancé Jacob. But with his eccentric and trouble-riddled friends arriving along with spiteful in-laws crashing it doesn’t exactly go to plan. Trapped in a house together, more alcohol being drank and more secrets revealed, will Michael and Jacob even make it down the aisle?!

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3 thoughts on “Review of Adam Hannigan’s Game Night | Drayton Arms Theatre”

  1. Extreme laughter workout! Great entertainment that just got better and better. Very real believable characters casually dropped into a familiarly awkward situation, delivered with a tounge in cheek, hilarious! Easy to follow but also with little extra stories intertwined which make me want to watch it again. I must get myself one of those shelves

  2. Fantastic night. Laughed till I cried. Looking forward to seeing more of these and enjoying more funny nights. Was worth the 2 hr drive without a shadow of a doubt.

  3. *****
    Hilarious! Game Night had me laughing from start to finish, fantastic writing and strong performances made for an entertaining, quick witted and diverse play! Would recommend to all!

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