New BA in Game Design and Art! ‘The Roof’ invites us to the game…
With our new BA in Computer Game Design & Art starting, I decided to go and see ‘The Roof’ by Fuel Theatre. Part of the ‘Arts by the Sea Festival’ in Bournemouth, they had a purpose built arena for the show down by the pier, designed by John Bauser (Para-Olympic arena designer). Entering inside, they take you on to the roof tops, an urban setting of the chimneys, high billboards and vents, graffiti and high-rise windows. They give you headphones as you enter and the 3D soundscape engulfs you. I didn’t know what to expect from ‘The Roof’, but walking into the arena I felt my excitement start to bubble.
A computer game world begins with a 70’s décor, bedroom DJ – ‘Supermoon’ radio and the superhero emerges behind in a red jump suit – player 611.
The voice in our ears tells us we are him, he is us, we are the hero…. about to play. He turns, a gap between the roof tops, he leaps!…he falls! We hear the computer blips and whizzes of our hero losing a life, as he then re-emerges out the start box again. The trial and error of movements and game play ensues, meeting one monster after another. A pattern of learning and starting again – hours of computer game playing memories flood back in to my head; the frustrations, the highs, the lows, the points, the secret levels and the power ups!
Fuel Theatres movement is beautiful to watch. Their body articulation and timing I couldn’t fault. The more you watch, the more you lose yourself into belief of watching this little ‘Mario’, the 3D sounds mimicking blips and noises of numerous cult-culture , ‘old skool’ games.
Each level he has a mission to complete and as he works his way through, his competence & learnt behaviour, actions, interactions with other players and monsters becomes more fluid and the pace quickens; bringing physical theatre, dance and free-running in to one.
They bring the world of abstract and surreal to the foreground, with each level completion having its own finale sequence played out to us – the players. Faceless rabbits, shapes & smoke create a poetic dream like scene of dance and movement…and then on to the next level!
Fuel Theatre incorporates humour throughout the piece. As each monster dies our headphones pause with a computerised voice stating ‘clean up required’. In comes a cleaner character with hair rollers, cigarette, mop and apron! Each time a monster is killed or a bonus picked up an inflatable duck pops out the air vent with a ‘QUACK’! As the hero improves and begins to takeover there’s a stampede of ducks flying out the air vent!
I loved the ‘siren’ majorettes, who enchanted our hero, leading him astray from his mission and delivering him into trouble. But I really loved the humour with the ducks!
The pirate radio linked us in to each scene/level and was the goalpost for our hero to collect what he needed to complete the level each time. The DJ became his trapped princess, where a story of love unfolded. There was a sweet moment on the roof top where each time he moved closer to her another duck flew out the vent!
When the window closed and the radio signed off and the applause came, I was shocked to see such a small cast of only 8-10 people! The speed at which they had doubled up and moved around the set was incredible!
For more details go to The Roof Show
This is a 1 hour performance and standing – so wear good footwear!
Click here for more details of our BA Game Design & Art degree.
Stephii Baker, Sept 2014