Gamble Review

Northern Stage Newcastle – until Saturday 21st May 2022

Reviewed by Sandra Little


This one woman show, which was written and performed by Hannah Walker, addresses issues relating to online gambling addiction. The show uses minimal props and a range of multimedia techniques to explore the impact that gambling addiction can have on families and relationships. All performances have integrated BSL interpretation from Faye Alvi and there is also a contribution to the performance from Rosa Postlethwaite.

At the beginning of the show Hannah, who is a very extrovert, larger than life character, describes her experience of gambling as a win at bingo in the village hall. She then progresses to casino gambling in the city and eventually the audience are introduced to the glitzy world of online gambling. The ease by which people can participate in online gambling is described in glowing terms, and we are told that you simply have to open your phone, log in online and start gambling from the comfort of your own home. There is also reference to online gambling as “ entertainment” and the availability of “free” £50 bets is mentioned.

The issues relating to addictive gambling are mainly addressed through a story line involving a young couple with a baby. There are also powerful recorded interviews with several gambling addicts whose identity is hidden. In the main this show has a comedic style and the style is very exaggerated ( think Patsy in Ab Fab) . There are also some quite risqué elements included, with references to nipples, vagina and periods. However, within this jokey delivery, there are some very stark facts and serious messages. One part of the show for example tells us that gambling addicts are either dead, homeless or in recovery.

For me, the most hard hitting and poignant part of this show was the interviews with gambling addicts. This part of the show really brought home the impact gambling addiction has on people’s lives and the ease with which online gambling can spiral out of control.

Clearly gambling addiction is a very serious, modern day problem and therefore this performance must be applauded for raising awareness and providing opportunities for further discussion. However, I felt that the very important issues presented in the show were sometimes overwhelmed by the comedy. I think that the the serious aspects would have had a greater impact if there had been more of a balance between the humour and the despair online gambling addiction brings.

Information provided by the theatre describes how interviews with industry experts, health professionals, people in recovery and their loved ones has contributed to the content of this show.

Each performance is followed by a post show discussion with Dr Matthew Gaskell ( Clinical Lead and Consultant Psychologist for the NHS northern gambling service) . There is also the opportunity for people to have an informal chat, either online or in person, with Hannah on Sunday 22nd May from 10:30 AM until 12:30 PM and information on organisations offering support is also provided.