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Brighton Fringe 2011

The Unbuilt Room

Seth Kriebel

Genre: Installation Theatre


The Nightingale Theatre


Low Down

In this 20 minute piece, Seth Kriebel guides a tiny audience though his performance, which tests logic and your sense of direction. This unusual installation created for the Nightingale Theatre and updated for the 2011 Brighton Fringe.


One doesn’t like to give the game away too much when reviewing a show, but in this instance, the play itself is a game.

After passing through the rowdy noise of The Grand Central Hotel in the evening, the small audience group moves upstairs into the surprisingly quiet Nightingale Theatre upstairs. Entering a black space, the group takes a seat around a large compass chalked on the floor. The single hanging lightbulb bathes the centre of the circle in a warm glow. Feeling inexplicably like I was about to take part in a mystical ritual in a witches’ coven, I turned focus to performer/deviser Seth Kriebel. He explains that we are going to play a game, and imparts the rules of the game in an even toned, American accented voice, and we start play.
We instantly become a team, attempting to discover key to this unexpected  game. We can’t (at least, we don’t) communicate with each other; we only make moves.
Kriebel remains neutral and impassive, almost infuriatingly so, as he refuses to give us an inch as we try to work out the objective of this game, testing its boundaries and trying to unlock its doors. 
A site-specific piece, this performance was built for the Nightingale, and in playing, the building we are sitting in is explored in great depth and from an unlikely perspective. 
My fellow players were, we confirmed afterwards, equally frustrated with a feeling of going around in circles and trying to decipher this seemingly inscrutable game. Or perhaps we were reading altogether too much into it, and there was no objective: there was no way of knowing.
It was also however surprisingly funny, helped by Kriebel’s ability to play the almost computerised games master, and his vert impressive grasp on the structure of the game.
Like many a childhood game, The Unbuilt Room calls on the audience to use their imaginations to visualise the game as they move through it. A panacea to the bombardment of, say, a video game or even some board games, The Unbuilt Room is a powerful reminder of how beguiling simplicity can be. At times however I did find myself frustratedly wondering when – and how – the performance would end.