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Edinburgh Fringe 2021

Prison Game

Hercules Productions with HOME Manchester and Pleasance

Genre: On Demand, Online performance, Theatre

Venue: Pleasance Online


Low Down

When prison is your world, how do you function within society? This gripping and, at times, chilling one-man physical theatre performance is the story of how prison can define a man. Developed using real life accounts of extraordinary experiences, this mainly biographical story deals with the effects of institutionalisation on the psyche of an individual and the people around them. Told through a series of characters (brought to life by the physical dynamism of Marcus Hercules), you are taken on a young boy’s journey from primary school through to adulthood.


It’s Carnival time in Jamaica “party party party, community, community, community” Marcus Hercules proclaims vibrantly as the lights come up!

This is the story of Mike, searching for his field of dreams…based on different characters in Mike’s life, almost as it happened in this mainly biographical story. Starting in Jamaica when people were moving to England, settling in and getting to know their neighbours and a wider community. Mike’s mother is one of them, she arrived in England alone and later sent for her children to travel to Manchester, where Mike and his brother Clive grew up.

Mike goes to school, along the way he meets the ubiquitous TQ, and others, who lead Mike into trouble. There are other characters in his world and Mike has a certain naiveté about him and his good heart wants to help those around him – at least to not do harm – but he is caught in a spiral, being pulled down and into criminal situations.

Hercules plays every character with bravura. He invests himself into every fibre of each character by changing his stance, posture, movement, facial expressions, accent and tone of voice for each person. The large space of the black box theatre in which the show is filmed allows Hercules to leap about, dance wildly and move up and down stage as fast as his characters and accents change. The simple set with only one chair and an appealing lighting design to designate the space of certain characters is exactly right.

Mike is accused of attacking Fred Murphy, Mike insists he is innocent – a court case ensues, with the judgement “blah blah. Blah, blah, take him down”.

Mike is released from prison…he is free, bigger and stronger…and loves to dance! Smoothe jazz plays and he moves to the moody beat – but then his old friend TQ is hanging around and he offers Mike “anything you want” in a new temptation. 

At times it is difficult to follow each character because they come in such a rapid fire; and perhaps clarifying each one early in the performance might be the final polish needed to move the show to the next level. There is much quality here.

Written and performed by Hercules the one hour play is moving. It explores important times in a person’s life and how one is conditioned by the surrounding people, the community, and how this affects our expectations and dreams. Hercules is a very compelling performer who has created a snapshot of a microcosm that we can learn from, in this complex meaningful physical theatre story.