Bingo – Voila! Festival, Cockpit Theatre

Reviewer: Maryam Philpott

Creators: Yael Karavan and Silvia Mercuriali

Online quizzes with family and friends have become a lockdown staple, something which Yael Karavan and Silvia Mercuriali build on as they take their international human rights bingo show online as part of the Voila! Europe 2020 festival at the Cockpit Theatre. Conceptually ingenious, this interactive show is part competition, part comedy show and part learning experience in multiple senses.

Managed via Zoom, the show itself lasts around an hour although the end-to-end process is close to 90-minutes as Karavan and Mercuriali greet each member of the 25 person audience individually in the virtual Box Office to take them through the rules of the game and assign bingo cards. Ideally, you will need a smartphone to receive the card, but the presenters can read a set of numbers to you to mark off with paper and pen.

It is a lovely and personal touch but it delays the start of the show by around 20-minutes beyond the advertised time. Once onboarded, the technical organisation of Bingo is particularly well managed, cutting to the ‘Juicy Ball Spinner’ to pick the numbers and then asking the lucky participants to switch their cameras on to participate in a human rights related task in order to mark off the number.

The way in which Karavan and Mercuriali align the tasks with the 30 human rights articles is very smart and it may not be obvious how they fit until the audience has correctly guessed the additional picture clue. Tasks such as discussing your dream job after which two brave souls volunteer to take an interview in which they cannot say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to represent the right to work, or being divided into breakout rooms to give feedback on the show as part of the right to self-expression, are subtle ways to coax the audience into understanding the serious purpose behind the game.

The transition to an online show is cleanly achieved, building a sense of community among the participants who are clearly instructed how to play and when to use their cameras. Each bingo card has seven numbers and the show limits itself to seven draws regardless of whether anyone achieves a full house which is a sensible cut-off point. It will also make each show relatively unique as any combination of tasks and games could emerge from the entirely random bingo spinner.

Perhaps, the show’s description could be a little clearer about how interactive Bingo is, as participants are expected to use their cameras and microphones when requested. On Bingo’s premiere run, the energy noticeably flagged for both audience and presenters after 45-minutes as the slightly tangential length and teasing nature of some of the tasks took its toll on the numbers of people willing to turn their cameras back on, although most complied.

Karavan and Mercuriali are engaging hosts who offer clear instructions but maintain a fun atmosphere throughout, even when they slightly lose control of their overeager audience towards the end. With a strong concept to link the show together, Bingo is a chance to put your human rights knowledge to the test. The full experience could be hastened along a little, perhaps with bingo cards sent in advance or online, but a lot depends on how much you are willing to put in, so once in the game be prepared for anything.

Available here until 21 November 2020

The Reviews Hub Score

Conceptually strong

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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