Creators: Teatro Pomodoro
As you enter the cold, dark, back-room warehouse of Liverpool’s Make Studios, you are presented with a room of booths, each seating two people and all facing the arena. An arena where a twisted, dark, yet comic Battle Royale will take place.
We the audience are voyeurs into the madness, punters on the games the contestants must play, games where their survival is our gain. It’s a neat premise that clearly takes hold of our current fascination with post-apocalyptic science fiction and tv programmes like last year’s hit Squid Game. Here at the Peep Show, Teatro Pomodoro test us to see how far we will go for the sake of fun, what is and isn’t acceptable. This is clever clowning. While we are constantly in bouts of laughter, our morals and ethics are all being tested and that’s what makes Peep Show: Battle Royale so successful.
As we are guided through the games by our host played with a level of hyperactive energy by latex-clad Canadian Duncan Cameron , we bet on the outcome of the games – done by waving flags out of “Glory Holes” in the peep show booths if you are correct, you win points, the booth with the most points at the end of the battle may go home with a prize, depending on how far their conscience will take them.
The contestants (or victims) of this “televised” show try to garner our support throughout and are played brilliantly by a team of international clowns/physical theatre performers: Carmen Arquelladas (Spain), Leebo Luby (UK), Miwa Nagai (Japan) and Simone Tani (Italy). Games are broken up by small commercial breaks which are projected onto the glass panes of our booths and are surreal and bizarre and arguably it’s this side of the production that doesn’t quite feel as coherent as the rest of the production.
While the technology is cleverly designed at times the audio being fed into the booths from the arena could appear a little quiet and one instance of using our phones to take part in a game felt superfluous and doesn’t gel in the same way as the rest of the proceedings – either this element in future productions needs to be incorporated more or it should be taken out, one feels the latter is probably the better of the two options.
That said Peep Show: Battle Royale is a strong and enjoyable hour of devised theatre/clowning that will, despite all the dark elements leave you smiling at the madness you have taken part in over the last hour.
Hopefully, this isn’t the last we see of Peep Show and with a little more development could be bigger and better than ever!
Reviewed on 17 February 2022