Imagine that for one night only you could do absolutely anything you wanted, and get away with it.
Welcome to Game Show.
It is 1992, and in a Bosnian town a small family cowers in their basement. The Serbian militia is coming—an assorted rabble of malcontents given authority by a uniform and inflamed by the idea that they’re owed something, big-time, and the Bosnians are going to pay. When they get to the town they will ransack the houses, round up the men and rape the women. Who’s to stop them? Who’s to accuse them? Who will be left to tell the tale?
Meanwhile, in a nondescript northern UK town, a group of contestants make their way to the TV studios to take part in a radical new Game Show. There’s money to be won and fun to be had. They’ll be able to throw off their inhibitions and do what they want because they’ll all be in disguise and no one will ever know.
In a disturbing denouement, war and game meld into each other as action and consequence are divided, the words ‘blame’ and ‘fault’ have no meaning and impunity reigns.
Game Show asks whether the situation that fostered the Bosnian war, the genocide in Rwanda, the rise of so-called Islamic State in Syria and the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar could ever happen in the West. The answer will shock you.
Leo gyrated across the floor, an icon, resplendent in uniform a-glitter with medals and insignia. The lights swirled and flashed. Cameramen swooped across the floor. The music was deafening. Soon everybody in the seating area was on their feet, clapping, stamping, encouraged by the personnel in headphones. At the end of an unoccupied row towards the back of the auditorium, Celia alone retained her seat, her face a ghastly mask.
Finally, he had come.
‘Come on now, come on now, let me see now, let me see now,’ Leo intoned, his voice amplified all around the studio, extending an immaculately tailored arm and pointing a finger tantalisingly at members of the audience.
‘Pick me, pick me!’ they chorused, responding obediently to his beckoning finger.
He kept them waiting, playing them, drawing them. Then: ‘Who have we here?’ He stabbed his finger at one of the youngsters, a member of the coach party. She screamed, clapping her hands to her mouth. Her friends all cheered, pushing her forward. The music decreased a few decibels as Leo pulled his prey to centre stage.