Review: Socialist* Games (Mammalian Diving Reflex)

Socialist* Games

A play with play where theatre truly gets social thanks to Mammalian Diving Reflex in Toronto

I do believe that was the most fun I have had all summer, and with strangers. For the past 2 weeks Mammalian Diving Reflex has used the Theatre Centre Pop-Up as their home base for their performance art show Socialist* Games. The show set about converting audience members into socialists*, that is the kind of person who is “inclined to seek out and enjoy the company of others”. I definitely felt much more like a socialist* after that evening.

The evening was 100% audience participation, and consisted of 6 classic camp games. There were definitely people there who had been before who could have been “actors” but the evening was lead by our wonderful, charming, and lively host Annie. She did a great job at making everyone feel welcome and included in the evening’s festivities.

Annie lead us in 6 classic camp games, an ice breaker name game, a spin off of musical chairs, bad neighbour (a panty throwing game), Snake, love tag, and murder shake.  My favourite games were snake and love tag, partly because we went on a field trip around Queen West. Snake, a live human version of the old cell phone game, had everyone who came link hands and walk through shops, restaurants, galleries, and backyards in the Queen West neighbourhood. While we were out we convicted some extra stranger strangers to join our line, which obviously called for a round of cheering.

When we, as the snake, found a courtyard at the bottom of some condo buildings we broke apart from and started playing love tag. As you may have guessed it works like tag, the twist being you are safe if you hug someone and both huggers say “I love you” (and you have to mean it). At this point some of the condo’s younger residents came out to join us (which, again called for a round of cheering). When we started to head back to the Theatre Centre Pop Up one of the children’s guardians came up to a group of us and said “this place has never seen so much fun”.

I have always wondered if play is so important for children why is it not also important for adults? Playing games can be a testing ground for new knowledge. Playing gives us the opportunity to step out of our normal comfort zones and look at our lives from a slight distance and see the world afresh. I think that is what Mammalian Diving Reflex was trying to do, kick our behinds off the sofa and into action.

It was a great to take a few hours to play, to get to know my neighbour, and to remember that the world is full of mostly awesome people. Give someone a smile and they will probably return it.


Photograph provided by Mammalian Diving Reflex.

One thought on “Review: Socialist* Games (Mammalian Diving Reflex)”

  1. Emma Letki,

    Thanks for checking out Socialist* Games. Glad you had a good time. Your review is historic, as this is the first time one of our very un-theatrish events has been reviewed as theatre. Thanks!

    lots more stuff to come in the fall and beyond,

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