Review: Odds On (online)

Felicity (Fiona Watson, who has facilitated this project) is on her last day at work in a hospital. She likes to gamble on the spin to win game Pearls of Fortune.

As a viewer of this half-hour show, which mixes animation, live action, pop-up chats and interaction, you start by playing the game yourself – creating a game name and avatar, having a couple of spins.

Odds On plays with a number of viewpoints from inside, outside and immersed in the game. There are a lot of characters: Felicity’s family alone numbers five people that we see, plus others.

It’s a stark warning about how seeking to make money can become an obsessive thrill. The game’s music is jaunty, its colours bright, its avatars have the cuteness factor.

Perhaps the plotline is a little bit too much for such a short timescale, but the build-up is handled well, and the closing scenes are very affecting.

Technically, Odds On is excellent. The game which sucks Felicity in is full of detail, and the various video calls chats, and support prompts all feel realistic.

I found the idea of being literally pulled into the game you are playing particularly interesting, and wondered what would happen if the invites to the viewer to join in were ignored.

Odds On, with its middle-aged female protagonist, is very accessible and moves the topic from online betting agents into what, on the surface, looks like innocent arcade play.

Odds On is written and directed by Daphna Attias and Terry O’Donovan, with animation direction and editing by John Brannoch.

Dante or Die have produced this piece, which I am reviewing from the digital version following its showing at Stone Nest on the 28 June. It next shows at The Lowry on 5 July and is currently on a virtual tour.

There is also a carefully curated support pack with links to various organisations who can offer help and advice on gambling addiction. This is accessible both at the end of the piece and from the host webpage.

Image credit: Studio 27 Eleven and Justin Jones Photography