Game of Life

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Game of Life

In 1970, 110 years after Milton Bradley came up with the heroically kitsch boardgame The Game of Life, British mathematician John Horton Conway devised the slightly less fun Game of Life. A 'zero player game', it is based on the automatic interaction of black and white tiles and is designed to demonstrate the phenomenon of emergence, wherein complex systems are generated by multiple simple interactions.

Now, with admirable pluck, Rose Lewenstein has written a drama about emergence. Set on a large Game of Life grid, it shows how five characters' smallest actions impact upon each other. Problem is, small actions with complex repercussions are pretty much the bedrock of most fiction.

Though bookended by more experimental scenes, Lewenstein's text and Russell Bender's production simply aren't formally daring, laden with emergence-related symbolism but unable to say much beyond 'actions have consequences'.

The characters – struggling couple, struggling mother and daughter, struggling mathematician – are nicely drawn and acted, but feel hemmed in by the conceit and the short running time.

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