Moralgorithm HiC

12:40 pm in Review, Reviews by EVNT

Since joining the Marylebone Gardens community of immersive theatre enthusiasts, I’ve been along to most of shows in this fantastic ex-BBC building. If you’re unfamiliar with the space, basically, in the heart of posh old Marylebone you step through one rather innocuous door on the high street into a 5 storey haven of creativity and fun.

The space is run by Theatre Delicatessen who also support work by a bunch of innovative creative talent including Stamp Collective – the team behind Moralgorithm HiC – who specialise in creating “Real Life Imaginary Playgrounds”.

So, about the show. Starting in the pop up bar, with very little idea of what to expect (the content of the show being deliberately hidden), I am allocated to the Green team before being frogmarched up the stairs to Malgorithm HiC by a very bossy and highly amusing Manager (Gaia Harvey Jackson).

On entering the space we see the stage set with desks dotted around the room and the station workers (all ladies) busily working away in a rather robotic fashion. The Manager and her humorously timid assistant (Ellie Stamp) then explain that we need to find and earn cookies in order to secure our holiday of a lifetime. A big fanfare erupts as one of the girls wins her holiday and leaves Malgorithm destined for a life of Paradise, a worthy reward for all her hard work!

At these early stages it seems that beyond the fun and frolics there is a message developing about the world at large; how many of us are willfully complicit in “the system”, giving over our lives to the drudgery of 9 to 5 for decades for some kind of future reward? It left me hoping for some kind of existentialist realisation & revolution…

Anyway, we moved from table to table, painting pictures with our green fingers, lining up bath ducks and playing with cotton buds, whilst the Station workers skillfully led the way with a mixture of storyline and improv (I was slightly bamboozled by how talented and pretty they all were, but I digress!)

Before we moved to the next table there was a pause in which the manager announced that some of our ideas were ready to be tested. All the station workers got up and went through a robotic process which is rather hard to describe! Ultimately they stuck their head in some kind of circuit board machine, turned around a few times, and came out looking rather dishevelled and more manic than when they went in before excitedly gathering around a dispenser to see what ideas were ejected from the machine (each hoping that their idea may be good enough to earn them this holiday of a lifetime).

Each team (green, blue, purple and yellow) then has a go at pitching these ideas to the audience, and we had to vote by shouting for the best one. The mission is to earn a cookie for the team that makes the best sales pitch, and cookies mean Holidays! One product  we all created was a colourful looking cockatoo, who by making love to insects, somehow magically created a cure for malaria…

At this juncture, it would be impossible to explain every nuance of the show, but it all’s gets rather interesting, although at times slightly confusing: we are seeded little clues that help us to progress the direction of the plot ourselves.

In sum it was truly immersive and very cleverly done. I don’t want to reveal too much, but eventually the audience and the actors come together, and the show reaches a lively outcome!

So, on one level, it was fun being in a “Real Life Imaginary Playground” a hall mark of Stamp Collective’s works. However, the production was also a whole lot more. The skill of interweaving an existentialist sub plot into the fun and the way in which the actors moved the story forward with skillful improv combined with the way the audience becomes involved in reaching the final conclusion to the night was very, very clever.

I’d highly recommend you check this out and keep an eye out too for The Stamp Collective’s next project.

Marcus Warry