New Stages

Sampler: Nottingham Banana Warehouse / Barclays New Stages (at Lift: 14-18 June, ICA)
Click to follow
The Independent Culture
On a bare stage, five people discover that their movements trigger sounds. They experiment, prodding and poking at each other, producing static signals, creaks, mechanical squeaks. The sounds become more specific and suddenly each performer is on a creaking plank: a move in the wrong direction and there is a sampled cry, a pause, and then a muddy slurp. Of course! It's a game, and each "dead" player is "out", but the players have to work out the rules for themselves. A disembodied voice provides instructions and "help" on request, like a live-action computer game.

In the next stage, the players (above) begin to create the rules themselves, and the parameters of creation are pushed out - first there is just a room, then a whole house, a garden, a pond, a road beyond the garden.

The games, and the simplistic gestures the players choose to signify actions ("sleeping" suggested by an arm across the eyes) suggests a gang of alternately cocky, pranksterish and scared children. When they encounter the "grown-up" world - a baby, a cocktail party - their game-bound responses offer a childishly telling pastiche of adulthood.

Gary Stevens's Sampler pursues its premise a little too long but overall it's a fascinatingly quirky, original, and ultimately slightly chilling experience.