Voila! Europe 2020: Bingo! at the Cockpit Theatre Online
Applying the Human Rights Treaty to a game of bingo seems absurd, but Yael Karavan and Silvia Mercuriali of Karavan Ensemble prove that reality begs to differ, using audacious methods to confront the irony of our “all-inclusive” system. Bingo! concludes Voila! Europe 2020’s adapted theatre festival, and the duo deliver with fighting spirit. Putting rule-makers to shame, the online game forces its audience to hold their definition of equality against what they actually see, shining a bright light on the blatant indifference and terrifying element of chance that decides who enjoys rights and freedom in this world.
Each viewer receives an individual bingo card and instructions for the event in a makeshift box office “room,” aided by nifty Zoom features and sound effects that conjure a pleasant pre-show ambiance. It is even possible to witness other audience members chatting in anticipation, just as in a real-life theatre. Each bingo card contains a personal set of rights, and every ball drawn reveals a quirky illustration and an activity hinting at a corresponding human rights article.
Despite the physical distance, the hosts, presenting live from afar, are animatedly synced and co-ordinated far beyond matching shiny background curtains; their bravery projecting such energy into the daunting space of unreliable bandwiths is commendable.
Activities are cleverly and comically spun to circle back to serious discussion of flaws in the system, a shrewd example being a group dance moment, with encouragement to enjoy our freedom of “movement” before Brexit kicks in. Viewers’ refusal to remove items of clothing from a list of high street brands elicits a scolding for wearing slavery – just one of the messages that hit home once the drinking game-style laughter wears off.
The game is a tipsy but rewarding experience, with intergalactic themes managing to find their place among weighty topics. Karavan and Mercuriali are extremely likeable, and juggle the unpredictability of an interactive audience with impressive spontaneity. The layered format ensures the show barrels on, even if audience input is minimal, and the duo play on Zoom’s glitches with blazing confidence, bouncing off each other’s quick thinking and exuding infectious personality through the screen.
Bingo! is a wild re-imagining of the familiar game, and a celebration of Voila! Europe’s intentions. The competitive element fades quickly as collective involvement becomes top priority. It’s a nudge to let ourselves off the hook, but remember our rights, and a bold illustration of our corrupt reality, where agency of freedom comes down to the same kind of luck as a game of numbers. Nobody screamed “bingo!” at the end, making everyone a loser, only “some were more losers than others.”
Bingo! is online at the Cockpit Theatre as part of Voila! Europe 202 festival from 19th November until 21st November 2020. For further information or to book visit here.