‘What do you want to do?’ asks Seth Kriebel. ‘Get naked!’ shout a raucous handful of audience members. Luckily, it’s not that kind of game. Its creator and gamesmaster Kriebel has been inspired by the speccy charms of 1980s text-based adventures to create a gently fascinating interactive world.
Split into two, the audience takes it in turns to issue commands like ‘head North’ or ‘enter the Council Chamber’ in a choose-your-own-adventure performance that’s inspired by the Battersea Arts Centre’s own landscape rather than dungeons, dragons or valiant quests. The baffled audience, me included, can’t always keep the game’s ‘map’ in mind long enough not to endlessly retrace our steps. This feeling of rubbing up against the game’s edges makes for an occasionally frustrating experience -- but it’s funny too, as Kriebel’s game accommodates our ever-sillier commands, then invites us to do some world-building of our own.
Performances at Battersea Arts Centre often turn inwards, exploring the nooks and crannies of a venue with mosaic bees on its floors and mould on its ceilings, and oodles of high-Victorian flourishes in between. But this fetishisation of its spaces feels doubly relevant at a time when it’s swathed in plastic, and being painstakingly restored from a fire that demolished its grand hall in March this year.
Kriebel’s text smashes through the walls of his game into lyrical flights of fancy. Whose game is this? And why are we playing? Lost in imagined corridors and byways, it doesn’t seem to matter.
BY: ALICE SAVILLE