Game/Place/Show | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Game/Place/Show, Neo-Futurists, through June 28. It would be a leap of faith to believe that game shows open a window on the world--though they do promote the idea that escape from the prison of drab mediocrity is possible, even easy. Game shows require viewers to identify deeply with the people and contests they're observing, an act that requires both passion and empathy. And that's the angle that Connor Kalista and Genevra Gallo intend to exploit with Game/Place/Show, an interactive performance inspired by this curious article of mass consumption.

Unlike other Neo-Futurist pieces, this one draws an indelible line between spectator and performer. Audience members are only superficially engaged in a series of petty amusements for prizes of beef jerky and crackers, but during the show's meatier moments we're railroaded into observing the performers deconstruct the roles of host, presenter, and contestant. Considering how much control is dangled before the audience during the carnivallike opening, the conclusion--a preordained, tangentially relevant quiz show--feels like a breach of trust.

Game/Place/Show doesn't encourage the genuine moments of self-discovery that Kalista and Greg Allen's choose-your-own-destiny Crime and Punishment did. And while the subject has been caricatured with appropriate garishness, the cast is too divorced from the process (in a running motif, the performers answer cell phones midscene). This disconnection and all the gimmicks obscure any deeper insight into game shows--much less this show.

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