Image – Escape from Woomera, 2003 (Game Still)
More of a choose your own experience than a show, audience members are able to leave and re-enter the space at any time. Upon entering the audience see a discussion panel setup in one area and a desktop gaming setup in the other, with a large projection screen running behind both.
They are invited to pick a number if they wish to play the video game that is live streaming onto the projector for the rest of the audience to watch. As the audience play and watch the game, Applespiel live commentates and special guests also join the discussion panel where the topic of Asylum and Refugees is fleshed out with input from the audience also encouraged at times.
Applespiel have crafted a great "way in" to a real human epidemic which has been a political puppet for far too long. The game itself is centred around the controversial topic of refugee camps. For any gamers out there, the game is a mod of half life where players take on the role of a detainee who has to escape the refugee camp. Its a race against the clock as your "hope" (health bar) slowly runs out.
Playing the game in this live audience scenario brought up an array of emotions, a sense of the struggle, a feeling you are playing a video game whilst real conversations about real people are happening around you, a constant choice between listening to other stories and trying skipping the story to succeed at escaping the camp.
Choosing to focus on escaping myself I was progressing through the game quickly until it crashed to desktop on me and literally took away my "hope" meter. This drove the point of the piece home like a headshot.
Informative, engaging and a great example of experimental theatre done well.
Return to Escape from Woomera
Lead artists Applespiel – Nathan Harrison, Emma McManus, Rachel Roberts, Simon Vaughan
Venue: Meat Market | 5 Blackwood Street, North Melbourne VIC
Dates: 21 – 25 May 2019
Tickets: $25 – $35
Bookings: artshouse.com.au | (03) 9322 3720